Google’s Project Zero is making essential changes to its disclosure policies to allow developers more time to fix the problems while still being able to enforce strict policies if the companies don’t respect the allotted timeline.
There’s no official rule that says security researchers have to wait a certain amount of time before making their discoveries public. However, there’s a widely adopted policy across the industry of a 90-day waiting period, inspired mainly by Google’s example in this regard.
Until now, Google waited for 90 days before publically reporting the vulnerability. In this time, companies had to build the patch and deploy it in the wild. The same 90-day disclosure timeline is in place, but Google decided to add an extra 30 days before publishing any technical details. But this is not the only significant change.
“Disclosure deadline of 7 days for issues that are being actively exploited in-the-wild against users,” is another option offered by Google. “If an issue remains unpatched after 7 days, technical details are published immediately. If the issue is fixed within 7 days, technical details are published 30 days after the fix. Vendors can request a 3-day grace period* for in-the-wild bugs.”
The rationale for these changes is pretty straightforward. Google’s goal is to have patches delivered faster to the public and ensure enough time for companies to deploy a patch in the wild.
“This 90+30 policy gives vendors more time than our current policy, as jumping straight to a 60+30 policy (or similar) would likely be too abrupt and disruptive. Our preference is to choose a starting point that can be consistently met by most vendors, and then gradually lower both patch development and patch adoption timelines,” Google also said.
Project Zero is a security research group within Google that’s focused on discovering zero-day vulnerabilities in their own software or from other companies.