Do bug-hunting security firms put users at risk?

Thursday, 31 October 2002, 2:21 PM EST

When researchers at GreyMagic Software discovered a batch of security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Internet Explorer earlier this month, their first response was to test the vulnerabilities and make sure they were for real. What they did next, however, raised the ire of Microsoft and others within the software industry.

In addition to sending information about the vulnerabilities to Microsoft, GreyMagic published information on their public Web site about the vulnerabilities along with code showing how the vulnerabilities could be exploited. They also sent e-mail announcing their discovery to a variety of public Web sites frequented by computer security experts and computer hackers.

"Under the full disclosure policy, we're releasing these vulnerabilities to the public and to Microsoft at the same time," the company, which is based in Israel, said in an e-mail notifying the public about the vulnerabilities. "Notifying Microsoft ahead of time and waiting for them to patch the reported issues proved as nonproductive."

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