Re: Bank Exploit

Ahhhh....but therein lies one of the biggest and most debated issues/problems -- when (as a security professional) should I 'do the right thing'?

Some might argue, "OK, you're receiving a paycheck from your client. Do they want the world to know that they have a vulnerability?" If ABC is your client, and you've signed an NDA, legally, you can't approach EFG, perhaps even if you wanted to. Ethically, you are 'honor bound' to divulge to EFG; civilally, you may be 'legally bound' to ABC.

One (possible) way out of this mess might be to:

(1) Have ABC acknowledge that EFG has vulnerabilities.
(2) Have ABC acknowledge that you, as a security professional, are NOT legally bound to divulging into to EFG.
(3) That you will not be prosecuted, either civil or criminally.
(4) Have an ABC officer sign-off on the document.

The problem stems from what happens if ABC *refuses* to oblige in signing said document. If there are criminal ramifications, do you notify the FBI or DOJ? Legally, ABC could come after *YOU* afterwards. So could the federal government. In some circumstances, if you were simply hired to perform "X" function for ABC and found "X" for ABC and "Y" for EFG, reveal only what you were requested to perform. If you have significant amounts of data on EFG's vulnerabilities, it may be simply be better to destroy the findings. Again, you were requested ONLY to perform "X" for ABC. You weren't requested to perform "Y" for EFG. ;)

As a professional, you need to abide by what other professionals do. Would your doctor do the same if he conducted a test and found out that you and your wife (or girlfriend) had the same (or similar) disease (if communicable)? The fact is, the doctor is honor-bound up to a point; same goes with legal notification. A doctor, depending on the circumstances may -- or may not -- notify your spouse or girlfriend of the disease. Legally, they may or may not have to -- again, depending on the circumstances. The same may hold true here.


----- Original Message -----
From: Jax Lion [mailto:jv4l1n4@xxxxxxxxx]
To: Scott Race [mailto:srace@xxxxxxxxxxx]
Cc: Warren V Camp [mailto:wcamp@xxxxxxx], Jason Thompson [mailto:securitux@xxxxxxxxx], securityz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, security-basics@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Bank Exploit

In a scenario where you have been hired to test company ABC, in the
process you discovered that there is vulnerability in company EFG.

You inform company ABC of your findings, but should you inform company
EFG what you have discovered?

If company EFG is a client of company ABC, company ABC might* choose
not to divulge the finding to company EFG due to reasons of their own.

As a security professional, do you have an obligation to inform
company EFG of the finding, even though you were not hired to test?


On 7/26/07, Scott Race <srace@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Obviously there are many ways to look at this one.

The bottom line is you have discovered a security hole that the bank
be aware of. Your letting the bank know will benefit them, but at cost
your services. Will they think you are looking out for them, or will they
think you are just trying to justify a job?

It's all about communicating your INTENTION (as with everything in life
that matter).

Approaching it like "I have hacked you, now pay me to fix it" is like

If your intention is to help them, you need to clearly communicate that to
them, with the risk that they don't understand, in which case you need to
ready to seriously explain in way they understand (we don't know your
so only you know the way to communicate this).

As with all jobs, it comes down to communication. I've always felt a good
IT professional needs to cultivate both techincal skills AND people

So, it's up to you. Can you communicate in a way they can understand and
TRUST? If so, go for it. If you are not confident then I would not
you hold off.

From: listbounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on behalf of Warren V Camp
Sent: Wed 7/25/2007 2:32 PM
To: Jason Thompson; Jax Lion
Cc: securityz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx;
Subject: Re: Bank Exploit

This does not sound good. On the surface it appears that a "good" hacker
wants to tell the bank that he/she has see evidence of "bad" hackers on
their system and that the "good" hacker wants to sell consulting services
the bank. The "good" hacker could be in just as much trouble as the

---- Jax Lion <jv4l1n4@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
So Jason - what happened to your collegue?

IMHO - I don't think option 2 is a good idea. Questions will come up
such as - how did you discover the vulnerability in the first place.
What were you doing... and it all goes downhill from there.

I don't agree with keeping quiet either...

Is there a medium where we can report the "accidental discoveries"
without risk of prosecution? Like a hot tip line with the FBI or

On 7/25/07, Jason Thompson <securitux@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Risky... is this person a security professional?

This has happened to one of my colleagues before as well. There are
two solutions that are possible:

1) Do not reveal this or tell anyone about it. Leave it be. As there
is this heightened sense of urgency among banks to thwart potential
attackers the person could be in trouble with the bank for simply
discovering the issue. It really all depends on the person he or she
deals with there. Not saying it would hold up in court, it likely
wouldn't, but anyone who has the ability to find exploits is generally
regarded in a dim light by those who are uneducated on the subject.

2) Notify the bank's incident response team / security staff, OFFER a
non-disclosure agreement to them saying that you will not disclose
this to anyone regardless of what actions the bank decides to take on
their vulnerability, and state that this was discovered by accident
and that he or she simply wants to notify them about the issue and IS
NOT seeking ANY SORT of compensation. If they are notified and it
follows with the statement 'I would be willing to help consult you on
the solution for a small compensation' it instantly becomes extortion
and this person will likely be thrown in jail.

I am not a lawyer by any means, I am simply speaking from past
experiences and what I have seen happen to those who did things the
right way and the wrong way.

Solution 2 is a lot easier if your friend's client works in
information security and holds federal clearances and security
designations. Real ones, not Cisco or something :)


On 25 Jul 2007 13:34:29 -0000, securityz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
<securityz@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Friend of mine (not me, really) is working with a client of his who
claims to have inadvertently discovered a few web exploits of several
financial institutions. Does anyone have any insights as to how this guy
could bring these to the attention of the organizations involved without
being seen as a hacker? His minimal goal is to help the institutions,
optimally he would like to consult to help them rectify the issues.



Warren V. Camp, CPA, CISA, CDP

Relevant Pages

  • RE: Bank Exploit
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  • Re: Bank Exploit
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