What do I need to properly report a vulnerability?
The best advice is to document your vulnerability well. This typically means providing:
- the exact software version or model version affected
- a description of how the vulnerability was discovered (including what tools were used) or what you were doing when you encountered the vulnerability
- a proof of concept (PoC) code or instructions demonstrating how the vulnerability may be exploited; ideally, a suggested patch for the issue may be included
- description of the impact of the vulnerability and attack scenario (for example, see BugCrowd's write up on the topic: https://forum.bugcrowd.com/t/writing-a-bug-report-attack-scenario-and-impact-are-key/640)
- any time constraints (for example, give a date of publication or presentation at a conference if you know)
By providing this information to the vendor or the CERT/CC, you can help expedite the process of addressing and fixing your vulnerability.
When this information is available, you may request coordination assistance by submitting the Vulnerability Reporting Form (VRF).
We typically will respond within 24-48 hours. Depending on the request, further analysis and decision may take further time.
Please note that as a security researcher or penetration tester, you or your company may be subject to a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) regarding vulnerabilities you find. Please investigate this possibility and consider any legal implications of an NDA before reporting a vulnerability. For more information on legal implications of disclosure, please see the EFF's Vulnerability Reporting FAQ: https://www.eff.org/issues/coders/vulnerability-reporting-faq
How does the CERT/CC decide if we will accept a request?
Please note, the CERT/CC always reserves the right to decline to assist in coordination or to publish, especially for low priority reports or reports that are lacking information.
Even if a high quality vulnerability report is submitted, we may still decline to assist. This is not a reflection on the reporter or the quality of the report, but rather a result of limited time and resources. The CERT/CC attempts to take a balanced approach to the numbers and types of vulnerabilities handled in order to maximize benefit to the global community.
Some common reasons for decline are:
- Low CVSS score
- We evaluate the CVSS v2 Environmental score for all new reports, and use this score to help set priorities on reports. We generally place more emphasis on vulnerabilities with higher scores, and generally decline reports with low Environmental scores. For more information on how to perform CVSS scoring on your vulnerability, please see the CVSS website.
- One result of CVSS Environmental scoring is that software that is not widely distributed (i.e., has a very small global user base) will often be declined.
- Lack of strong evidence
- Evidence must be provided before action can be taken. Reports lacking a proof of concept or proposed patch will be considered low priority or even declined.
- Only a CVE ID is needed
- The CERT/CC typically only provides CVE IDs for vulnerabilities we take an active role in coordinating. Reports only requesting a CVE ID will generally be declined. CVE IDs can be requested directly from MITRE by emailing <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
- Only publication is requested
- The CERT/CC typically only publishes on vulnerabilities we take an active role in coordinating, and will generally decline reports on an already substantially coordinated issue.
Please be aware of these guidelines when submitting a request to the CERT/CC.
What happens next?
If the request is accepted, the CERT/CC will begin reaching out to the vendor. The CERT/CC will then work with the vendor as necessary to develop a patch and provide this patch to the community. The CERT/CC may decide to publish a vulnerability note on your vulnerability at the end of the process, depending on circumstances.
Please note that when a vulnerability is reported to the CERT/CC, we will take the reporter's comments into our decision process, but by submitting a report, the reporter agrees that CERT/CC has final decision authority over any coordination and publishing on the CERT.ORG website. As the vulnerability reporter, you are the owner of the vulnerability information and are free to disclose it on your own at any time, if you wish.
What if the CERT/CC declines my report?
If your vulnerability report is declined by the CERT/CC, we still encourage you to attempt contact with vendor or maintainer.
If your contact attempt fails despite acting responsibly, you may consider self-publishing (on a personal blog or website) information about your vulnerability, or perhaps submitting information about your vulnerability to a security mailing list such as Bugtraq or Full Disclosure. If you do, please take care regarding how much information is released; ideally, provide only enough information for users to understand the issue and mitigate attacks, but not a full proof-of-concept that can be misused.