Thanks to the unorthodox release of the DNS bug, there’s been a lot of debate in the past few weeks over disclosure. I posed a question here on the blog, and reading through the responses it became obvious that all of us base our positions on gut instinct, not empirical evidence. Andrew Jaquith, in the comments, suggested we take a more scientific approach to the problem, and this inspired my latest Dark Reading article, and a poll. Here’s an excerpt:
Sure, we all have plenty of anecdotal evidence to support our personal positions. We can all cite cases of this or that vendor tirelessly defending its customers, or putting them at mortal risk based on their handling of some vulnerability. We all know someone that suffered real losses at the hands of the latest random Metasploit exploit module, and someone else who used it to close critical holes in their security defenses before the bad guys made it in. We all talk about Blaster, Code Red, and other past incidents like they have any relevance in today’s world, which we all also admit has changed completely from a few years ago. There’s a word for picking and choosing examples to support a pre-existing belief without any scientific basis. It’s called religion. I propose that it’s long past time we brought some current science into the game. It’s time to move past anecdotal evidence or one-off cases into wider-ranging realm of epidemiological studies. It’s time to ask the users what they want, while developing risk metrics to allow them to make informed decisions despite their personal opinions. We may not reach definitive conclusions, and even if we do, they probably won’t last nor change the minds of the truly religious. But it’s always better to seek more data than to dismiss it before we even see it.
As a small first step, we attached a poll to the article to measure how different demographic groups, users, researchers/testers, and vendors, feel about disclosure. It’s not truly scientific, both due to the wording of the question and the self-bias of the readers, but I’ll always error more on the side of more data over less.
So take the poll, and we’ll get the results up in a couple of weeks. Until then, see ya at Black Hat and DefCon!