Google Introduces New Measures to Enhance Security and Support Vulnerability Researchers
In a bid to improve security and reduce the risk of vulnerabilities, Google has announced new initiatives designed to protect researchers and elevate the cybersecurity industry as a whole. These initiatives were revealed in a blog post published on Google’s official blog on April 13, 2023.
As detailed in the post, the security industry has seen many advances in both technology and collaboration. However, challenges persist in the realm of vulnerability management, particularly in breaking the seemingly endless cycle of identifying, patching, and discovering new vulnerabilities. To address these challenges, Google’s Project Zero, a vendor-agnostic security research team that studies zero-day vulnerabilities, has been at the forefront of developing patch and disclosure timelines.
The post also highlighted an “unpatched ecosystem” where risks remain even after vulnerabilities are known and fixed. These risks range from delayed adoption of patches by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to end-user update issues. Google’s analysis revealed that over one-third of zero-day vulnerabilities exploited in 2022 were variants of earlier patched vulnerabilities, indicating the prevalence of incomplete fixes.
To mitigate these risks, Google has proposed several initiatives:
- Greater transparency: Google is advocating for increased transparency from vendors and governments regarding vulnerability exploitation and patch adoption. This will help the community determine whether existing approaches are effective.
- Addressing friction points: Google is calling for a focus on friction points throughout the vulnerability lifecycle to comprehensively address risks to users.
- Modern software development practices: Google emphasizes the need to address the root causes of vulnerabilities by prioritizing secure software development practices.
- Legal protection for researchers: In an effort to safeguard good-faith security researchers who face legal threats, Google announced the creation of the Security Research Legal Defense Fund. The fund aims to provide legal representation for individuals conducting good-faith research that advances public cybersecurity.
In addition to these initiatives, Google has become a founding member of the Hacking Policy Council, which will advocate for policies and regulations that support best practices for vulnerability management and disclosure without undermining user security.
Lastly, the tech giant has committed to exploitation transparency as part of its vulnerability disclosure policy. Google will publicly disclose evidence of exploitation of vulnerabilities in its products.
Google expressed its commitment to working alongside stakeholders—including industry, researchers, users, and governments—to drive progress, reduce risks, and build a safer ecosystem for all.
The initiatives and announcements come at a critical time for the security industry and reflect Google’s dedication to advancing cybersecurity practices and supporting the invaluable work of security researchers