EU tightens cyber defenses: member states required to adopt Coordinated Vulnerability Policy by October

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coordinated vulnerability disclosure

With the projected cost of cybercrime soaring to $10.5 trillion by 2025, the imperative to fortify security measures for organizations has reached a critical juncture. As cyber threats continue to advance in sophistication, organizations must implement robust strategies to protect their digital assets, with the Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD) policy emerging as a pivotal component.

The European Union’s landmark Network and Information Security (NIS2) Directive, in effect since 2023, mandates Member States to adopt and publish a coordinated vulnerability disclosure policy by October 17, 2024. This directive seeks to facilitate the implementation of CVD for all relevant Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products and services.

What is Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure?

Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure serves as a secure mechanism for hackers to report security issues, enabling continual improvement in security postures. The policy is vital as it provides insights into potential vulnerabilities that could be overlooked during software updates or due to logic faults in processes. The CVD policy not only proactively addresses cybersecurity concerns but also nurtures collaboration between organizations and ethical hackers, thereby enhancing overall security postures.

CVD is a straightforward method to showcase a company’s commitment to security. It not only offers insights to political leadership, government policymakers, and other stakeholders to implement crucial elements of a CVD policy but also aims to shape a unified international approach and support the establishment of national CVD policies. However, a report from Zerocopter reveals that 60% of vulnerabilities discovered by hackers go unreported, emphasizing the crucial role of a CVD policy in bridging this gap.

How to implement CVD?

The Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure process involves several key steps, including the discovery of vulnerabilities by security researchers or ethical hackers, confidential reporting to affected organizations, vendors, or relevant third parties, verification of the reported vulnerabilities, remediation efforts by organizations or vendors, and finally, public disclosure with credit given to the researcher.

There are many benefits of practicing responsible disclosure through CVD. These are:

  • Increased Security: Mitigates the risk of data breaches, identity theft, and cybercrime by allowing organizations to address vulnerabilities proactively.
  • Improved Collaboration: Promotes collaboration between security researchers and vendors, leading to the development of more robust and secure products and systems.
  • Trust and Reputation: Enhances the trustworthiness and reputation of both vendors and security researchers by responding promptly and professionally to security vulnerabilities.
  • Legal Protection: Offers legal protection for security researchers by reporting vulnerabilities before public disclosure, minimizing potential legal issues.
  • Public Safety: Contributes to public safety by reducing the risk of cyberattacks and security incidents that could harm individuals or organizations.

How tech giant Microsoft approaches CVD

In alignment with the Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure principle, Microsoft’s strategy involves researchers unveiling newly identified vulnerabilities in hardware, software, and services. These disclosures are systematically directed to the responsible vendors of the affected product, a designated coordinator such as a national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), or a private service that privately reports to the vendor.

Under this principle, Microsoft ensures that vendors are given the opportunity to thoroughly assess and provide fully tested updates, workarounds, or other corrective measures before any detailed vulnerability or exploit information is made public. Beyond the initial disclosure, ongoing coordination between the vendor and the researcher is prioritized, with regular updates on the progress of the vulnerability investigation.

Upon the release of an update addressing the identified vulnerabilities, Microsoft acknowledges the efforts of the researcher, recognizing them for their research and private reporting of the issue. In instances where ongoing attacks are observed, and the vendor is still in the process of developing the necessary update, a close collaboration ensues between the researcher and the vendor to facilitate early public vulnerability disclosure. The goal is to offer customers timely and consistent guidance, empowering them to take proactive measures in navigating the ever-changing threat landscape.

Wrapping up: By embracing Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure practices, organizations can collectively fortify the digital realm, enhancing security, fostering collaboration, and ultimately safeguarding public safety in an interconnected and vulnerable digital landscape.

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