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Security UPDATE--Taking the Initiative on Bug Bounties--July 27, 2005

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Protecting Your Company by Managing Your Users' Internet Access


1. In Focus: Taking the Initiative on Bug Bounties

2. Security News and Features

- Recent Security Vulnerabilities

- Zero Day Initiative

- Microsoft to Acquire FrontBridge

- Microsoft Invests in Finjan, Licenses Software Patents

- Microsoft Launches OneCare Beta

3. Security Toolkit

- Security Matters Blog


4. New and Improved

- Add Two-Factor Authentication to IAS


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==== 1. In Focus: Taking the Initiative on Bug Bounties ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

Two weeks ago, VeriSign announced that it had made a deal to acquire iDEFENSE (see URL below). You probably know that iDEFENSE routinely pays security bug hunters for exclusive access to their discoveries. iDEFENSE then uses such information to work with vendors to create solutions to the problems. The company also uses that information to update the products that it sells to its customers.

This week, TippingPoint, a division of 3Com, announced it too will institute a bug bounty program. The new Zero Day Initiative will pay bug hunters for their discoveries, work with vendors to develop fixes for those problems, share the discoveries with other security vendors, and subsequently release some amount of information about the problems after a vendor has released a solution.

As iDEFENSE has shown, bug bounty programs are a concept that work. The concept does, however, raise a couple of interesting questions. The first is why don't vendors have their own bounty programs for problems related to their products?

The only entity I know of that pays for security bug reports regarding its products is Mozilla Foundation, which announced its program in August 2004. Dozens of security problems have been corrected as a result, and the foundation has paid thousands of dollars in rewards to the various discoverers. Obviously, the program is working.

Certainly, in some cases, a flaw found in a product can be a detriment, particularly when the discoverer releases vulnerability details before the vendor is notified that the vulnerability exists. However, it seems to me that an in-house bug bounty program is a partial remedy that could encourage discoverers to report a flaw to the company first (or forfeit the bounty) and mitigate at least some unfavorable media attention.

The second question that comes to mind is why do companies such as 3Com and iDEFENSE go it alone in their bug bounty programs? The concept could readily become an industry-wide collaborative effort. Product and service vendors (including those who benefit by operating businesses related to information security) could band together to form a group designed specifically to pay security researchers for their discoveries. A group like that could improve overall security for everyone by stemming the haphazard release of security vulnerability details before people have a chance to protect themselves. A collaborative effort would even help protect people who don't use computers (but whose private information is nevertheless stored on bank, credit card company, and mortgage company computers). Forming such a group seems like a great idea. I can only imagine why the industry hasn't already taken the initiative to do so.


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==== 2. Security News and Features ====

Recent Security Vulnerabilities

If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries at

Zero Day Initiative

3Com and its TippingPoint division announced Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), a security bug bounty program that will pay researchers for their discoveries.

Microsoft to Acquire FrontBridge

Microsoft announced its intention to acquire privately held email security vendor FrontBridge Technologies. Terms of the acquisition haven't been made public; however, Microsoft stated that as soon as it receives regulatory approval, integration will begin.

Microsoft Invests in Finjan, Licenses Software Patents

Security software and appliance maker Finjan Software announced that Microsoft made an equity investment in the company and negotiated a worldwide license to some of its security software patents.

Microsoft Launches OneCare Beta

Microsoft began sending out beta invites for its upcoming Windows OneCare Live product, an MSN service that will provide Windows XP users with managed antivirus and antispyware software, a two-way firewall, data backup and restore capabilities, and other services.


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==== 3. Security Toolkit ====

Security Matters Blog: Polly Want a Password Cracker?

by Mark Joseph Edwards,

I couldn't resist the joke, but seriously, check out the LCP password cracker. It's similar to @stake's incredibly popular LC 5 (formerly known as L0phtCrack), with several differences, at least one of which is major: It's free.


by John Savill,

Q: What's Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) 2.0?

Find the answer at


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==== 4. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Add Two-Factor Authentication to IAS

VASCO Data Security's Digipass Plug-In for Microsoft Internet Authentication Server (IAS) is an add-on that lets IAS customers use two-factor authentication instead of a password for network access. Digipass secrets are stored in Active Directory (AD), and policy-driven administration is via Microsoft Management Console (MMC). In addition, a Web site lets end users perform regular operations themselves. Digipass Plug-In for IAS supports most authentication protocols. For more information, go to

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Editor's note: Share Your Security Discoveries and Get $100

Share your security-related discoveries, comments, or problems and solutions in the Windows IT Security print newsletter's Reader to Reader column. Email your contributions (500 words or less) to [email protected]. If we print your submission, you'll get $100. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length.


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