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Re: Two MSIE 6.0/7.0 NULL pointer crashes
From: Michal Zalewski <lcamtuf () coredump cx>
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 16:53:21 -0800

Testing takes time.  That's why both Microsoft and Mozilla test.

Testing almost never legitimately takes months or years, unless the
process is severely broken; contrary to the popular claims,
personally, I have serious doubts that QA is a major bottleneck when
it comes to security response - certainly not as often as portrayed.

The generalization made earlier in this thread - that closed source
projects are always bad when it comes to security response, while the
open source community is inherently responsive - does not even deserve
a proper rebuttal. I am cc:ed on quite a few open security bugs in
major open source software - and when a problem is kept under wraps,
it is not unheard of to wait 6-12 months for a fix.

Both in the open source and in the closed source world, the real story
is almost always that the security issues you report need to be
prioritized against hundreds of other internally discovered security
problems; and thousands of high-priority but non-security bugs that
affect market adoption or annoy key customers. On top of this, many
security changes may require significant rewrites that the vendor is
hesitant to implement because of having no resources or no long-term
plan to do so.

In other words, in many cases, most of the waiting period is a
prolonged no-op that may serves no legitimate function, and may be
putting users at an unreasonable risk.

Even without assuming malice on the side of the vendor, this
demonstrates an inherent weakness of the "responsible disclosure"
process (understood as accepting arbitrary vendor-provided disclosure
timelines): while some vendors are quite willing to give security
issues top priority, and will actually work to get things done -
others may exploit the rhetoric to mask staffing problems or the
inability to drive engineering decisions effectively.

Cheers,
/mz

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