RE: Disclosure of vulns and its legal aspects...

This is simple. You have NO rights to go looking for vulnerabilities on a web site you do not control.

You can check your own systems all you like (excluding reverse engineering laws in some jursitictions). You can NEVER check a site which you do not copntrol without EXPLICT and EXPRESS permission legally.

"i would like carte blanche to investigate a bit more about it." Is just wrong. You are not the authorised protector of the Web. You have no rights to do this. To do otherwise is to be a vigilantee. People have the right to be insecure. As an analogy, I can leave my house unlocked - it is my right to be insecure and there is nothing you may do about it legally. After the fact this may (and will) impact my insurance, but this is MY decision and you have no right to go about checking my proverbial door.

If you think that you have a right - look at Mr Cuthbert last year [1]. Maybe Mr Gray [2]. Even as Mr Cuthbert discovered, doing "../.." "testing" or checking SQL input fields is illegal and usually criminal.

The laws in the US and UK differ in statute. The common law foundation of property has deviated, but has a common basis. The law of license is such that you never have a right in either place to do this. What varies is the penalty. It will be a "simple" civil penalty in some places (ie you pay money) and a criminal felony offense in others. Worse this may be International in that web sites are rarely local to you and this makes it worse again.


[1] R v Daniel Cuthbert {Horseferry Road Magistrates Court 07/10/2005} Computer Misuse Act 1990, s 1 Unauthorised access
IT security consultant donated £30 to Disasters Emergency Committee Tsunami appeal website, then "checked" site security. Defendant found guilty of unauthorised access "with deep regret", convicted and fined £400.

[2] R v Raphael Gray {Swansea Crown Court 06/07/2001} Computer Misuse Act 1990 Unauthorised access - Unauthorised modification
Teenage hacker aka Curador demonstrated security weaknesses in e-commerce web-sites and accessed 23,000 credit card records, some posted on his web-site. Guilty plea. Defendant convicted and sentenced to three years probation and medical treatment for obsessive mental disorder.

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-----Original Message-----

From: listbounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:listbounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Dark Cold Ice
Sent: Wednesday, 30 May 2007 8:12 AM
To: pen-test@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; security-basics@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Disclosure of vulns and its legal aspects...

Hi all,

It was earlier today whilst testing some websites as a personal
research/leisure time that i found a quite critical bug in a major
computer related website which will not be disclosured until all the
legal aspects of the disclosure process itself are dealt with.
After detecting the aforementioned vulnerability i was, like many have
been before, "jailed" between the decisions of reporting it or not, it
didn't take me long to decide to report it to the vendor as the flaw
itself was on it's website... My first step and only one so far was to
write the vendor the typical "praxis" e-mail saying that there MIGHT
be a vulnerability SOMEWHERE on their website and that i would like
carte blanche to investigate a bit more about it. I am now stuck with
3 thoughts, first of all, if the answer is no ( most common perhaps)
the vendor will be losing its chance to know where and what flaw is
it... will i be stuck with that and not be able to publicize it to the
security community?
Second thought, if the vendor says yes, i will report them the
vulnerability but, what entitles me the right to do it legally... a
simple e-mail would be enough perhaps...
Third and last thought, if they indeed agree to give me the chance to
test and report them the vulnerability i will only be entitled to
publicize it once solved, but even then, will it be legal to make a
full disclosure?

Thank you all in advance,


PS: What would the difference be between the US and UK laws on that
final aspect?