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Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:19:35 -0700
From: Michal Zalewski <lcamtuf@...edump.cx>
To: "Nicholas Lemonias." <lem.nikolas@...glemail.com>
Cc: full-disclosure <full-disclosure@...ts.grok.org.uk>
Subject: Re: Google vulnerabilities with PoC

Nicholas,

I remember my early years in the infosec community - and sadly, so do
some of the more seasoned readers of this list :-) Back then, I
thought that the only thing that mattered is the ability to find bugs.
But after some 18 years in the industry, I now know that there's an
even more important and elusive skill.

That skill boils down to having a robust mental model of what
constitutes a security flaw - and being able to explain your thinking
to others in a precise and internally consistent manner that convinces
others to act. We need this because the security of a system can't be
usefully described using abstract terms: even the academic definitions
ultimately boil down to saying "the system is secure if it doesn't do
the things we *really* don't want it to do".

In this spirit, the term "vulnerability" is generally reserved for
behaviors that meet all of the following criteria:

1) The behavior must have negative consequences for at least one of
the legitimate stakeholders (users, service owners, etc),

2) The consequences must be widely seen as unexpected and unacceptable,

3) There must be a realistic chance of such a negative outcome,

4) The behavior must introduce substantial new risks that go beyond
the previously accepted trade-offs.

If we don't have that, we usually don't have a case, no matter how
clever the bug is.

Cheers (and happy hunting!),
/mz

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