Menu
Zero-day flaws in Tails aren't for sale, vulnerability broker says

Zero-day flaws in Tails aren't for sale, vulnerability broker says

Exodus Intelligence will provide a report to Tails by the end of the week, a company executive said

A company that specializes in selling information on software vulnerabilities has reignited a debate over the handling of such information, especially when it pertains to privacy-focused tools.

Exodus Intelligence, based in Austin, Texas, tweeted on Monday it had found several vulnerabilities in Tails, an operating system and suite of applications designed to make it harder to track a user's activity online.

Exodus researches and sells information on software vulnerabilities, a legal business but one that attracts criticism for its opaque nature and worries over how governments or other entities might use the information.

The company has since announced it will supply a report with the vulnerability information to Tails' developers by the end of this week. Exodus will not share that information outside of the company before then, wrote Aaron Portnoy, vice president, in an email exchange Tuesday with IDG News Service.

When asked if Exodus was making a special exception for Tails, Portnoy wrote: "We evaluate every vulnerability we deal with on a case-by-case basis, therefore the Tails vulnerability is not an exception as we have no baseline standard."

Tails is a Linux-based operating system that uses several privacy-enhancing tools such as Tor to make using the Internet more anonymous. It is designed to be used on-the-go, such as at public Internet access points, and is considered one of the best but not foolproof ways to reduce leaving a digital footprint on a computer.

The tweet from Exodus provoked a reaction from Tails, which wrote on its blog that it was not contacted prior to the tweet. But Tails was pleased it will have the chance to see the information.

"We're told they won't disclose these vulnerabilities publicly before we have corrected it, and Tails users have had a chance to upgrade," the blog post read. "We think that this is the right process to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities, and we're really looking forward to read this report."

Portnoy said that Exodus doesn't exclude certain kinds of software from its analysis and that "we focus on things that are widely deployed."

It wasn't clear if public pressure influenced the decision by Exodus to disclose the information privately to Tails. The way the issue was handled generated a largely negative reaction against Exodus on Twitter, with some accusing the company of potentially putting users at risk.

Portnoy noted some tweets from Christopher Soghoian, who is the principal technologist with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. Soghoian has long been critical of the vulnerability broker business.

Soghoian took a swipe at Portnoy, writing "I'm pretty sure @aaronportnoy isn't interested in keeping anyone safe. He is interested in selling awesome 0-day for cash money."

Portnoy said in an email that he understood why Tails' developers "may have been irritated due to the hyperbolic reactions from some of the more vocal individuals on the outskirts of this industry who were under the impression we were selling the information to others."

Referring to Soghoian, Portnoy wrote: "When people have upwards of 35,000 followers, false ideas can easily spread without any attempt at validation."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Exodus Intelligence

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments