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CVD process discussions tend to focus on the handling of individual vulnerability cases rather than the social fabric surrounding vulnerability coordination we construct over time. Shifting away from the individual units of work to the social structure can suggest a way out of some of the more contentious points in any given case.

We previously described the multiparty delay problem. Game theory provides us with the prisoners' dilemma as model for thinking about this concern. The main takeaway from research into the prisoners' dilemma is that by shifting one's perspective to considering a repeated game, it's possible to find better solutions than would be possible in a one-shot game with no history. The recognition that it's a repeated game leads to improved cooperation among players who would otherwise be motivated to act solely in their own self-interest in each round [1].

One approach we've found to work is to remind the parties involved that this will likely not be the last multiparty vulnerability coordination effort in which they find themselves. A vendor that repeatedly releases early will likely get left out of future coordination efforts. Because of this, the quicker vendors might be motivated to delay so they get the vulnerability information the next time. Perhaps most important for those wanting to release early is to remember that this is a repeated game; you might be first one ready to publish this time but that may not always be the case. Consideration for the other parties involved in any given case can yield better outcomes in the long run.

In the end, everyone benefits from vendors improving their vulnerability response processes, so helping the laggards become more efficient can sometimes become a secondary goal of the coordination process.


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