[This was originally published on the OSVDB blog.]
In 2002, iDefense started their Vulnerability Contributor Program. The VCP was created to solicit vulnerability information from the security community and pay researchers for the information. Paying up to US$15,000 for a vulnerability or exploit, iDefense proved there was a significant market for such information after years of debate. The VCP also served as a stark reminder that researchers do not have an obligation to report vulnerabilities to vendors, that doing so is a courtesy.
The VCP pays for “actionable research”, meaning exploits in prominent software (e.g., Microsoft, Oracle) and infrastructure devices (e.g., Cisco). With the information in hand, iDefense in turn leverages researcher’s time by notifying their customers as an early warning system while handling the responsible disclosure of the information to the vendor. This activity can save a world of time for researchers who are long since tired of the headache that often comes with disclosure.
The list of vulnerabilities disclosed by iDefense is impressive. They attribute the large number of advisories to “250 security researchers worldwide”.
In the past few months, an OSF employee (Nepen) has begun to add creditee information for many vulnerabilities in prominent software. This has resulted in creditee information being added for all of the iDefense vulnerabilities. Using OSVDB, we can now look at their advisories in a new light.
iDefense employees have released 131 advisories, credited to 11 unique researchers and “iDefense Labs”. The VCP program has released 479 advisories, credited to 78 unique researchers and “anonymous”. If we assume the 250 researcher number is an estimate and includes both iDefense and VCP, then 89 researchers are distinct and public. That means the “anonymous” submissions make up approximately 161 unique people and cover 326 advisories out of the 479 released.
Using OSVDB’s new creditee system, we can see a neat timeline of the advisories as related to both iDefense and their VCP:
iDefense VCP (79 researchers, 479 advisories): http://osvdb.org/affiliations/1139-idefense-labs-vcp
iDefense Labs (12 researchers, 131 advisories): http://osvdb.org/affiliations/1091-idefense-labs
This is one of many neat ways to use the enhanced creditee system. Over time, as more information is added to the database, we can begin to look at other researchers and organizations.