Mozilla Asks President Obama to Help Strengthen Cybersecurity

Last week’s cyber attack on Dyn that blocked access to popular websites like Amazon, Spotify, and Twitter is the latest example of the increasing threats to Internet security, making it more important that we acknowledge cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Governments, companies, and users all need to work together to protect Internet security.

This is why Mozilla applauds Sens. Angus King Jr. (I-ME) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) for calling on President Obama to establish enduring government-wide policies for the discovery, review, and sharing of security vulnerabilities. They suggest creating bug bounty programs and formalizing the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) – the government’s process for reviewing and coordinating the disclosure of vulnerabilities that it learns about or creates.

“The recent intrusions into United States networks and the controversy surrounding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s efforts to access the iPhone used in the San Bernardino attacks have underscored for us the need to establish more robust and accountable policies regarding security vulnerabilities,” Senators King and Heinrich wrote in their letter.

Mozilla prioritizes the privacy and security of users and we work to find and fix vulnerabilities in Firefox as quickly as possible. We created one of the first bug bounty programs more than 10 years ago to encourage security researchers to report security vulnerabilities.

Mozilla has also called for five specific, important reforms to the VEP:

  • All security vulnerabilities should go through the VEP and there should be public timelines for reviewing decisions to delay disclosure.
  • All relevant federal agencies involved in the VEP must work together to evaluate a standard set of criteria to ensure all relevant risks and interests are considered.
  • Independent oversight and transparency into the processes and procedures of the VEP must be created.
  • The VEP Executive Secretariat should live within the Department of Homeland Security because they have built up significant expertise, infrastructure, and trust through existing coordinated vulnerability disclosure programs (for example, US CERT).
  • The VEP should be codified in law to ensure compliance and permanence.

These changes to the discovery, review, and sharing of security vulnerabilities would be a great start to strengthening the shared responsibility of cybersecurity and reducing the countless cyber attacks we see today.