Security.txt - one small file for an admin, one giant help to a security researcher

Published: 2020-08-27
Last Updated: 2020-08-27 07:09:33 UTC
by Jan Kopriva (Version: 1)
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During the last few months, I’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of vulnerability reports for domains registered to some of our customers. I would guess that this increase probably stems from more time being devoted by bug bounty hunters and security researchers to finding vulnerabilities due to their Covid-19 related self-isolation. Whatever the cause is however, the increased number of reports is probably felt by many organizations around the world.

If you’ve ever found a vulnerability on a website, which wasn’t operated by you or your organization, chances are you’ve had a bit of a difficult time finding the right person to report the vulnerability to. If you lack this experience, just try to imagine how easy (or difficult) it might be to get in touch with the responsible department or person in your company if someone were to find a vulnerability on the website of your organization. Identifying the right contact for domains registered by companies, which run their own CSIRT or PSIRT, is usually quite straightforward, but for the rest of them it can be quite a headache.

If you think this might be the case for websites/domains you are responsible for as well, one way, in which you might make it much easier for third parties to report vulnerabilities to you (or to the relevant department your organization), would be to publish the relevant contact according to the not-yet-RFC called "A File Format to Aid in Security Vulnerability Disclosure"[1].

This draft standard covers the creation of a file called "security.txt" in the /.well-known/ path on a web server, or in its root, which contains information relevant to the security of the server – most notably information about a contact, to which vulnerabilities may be reported. Bug bounty hunters and other security specialists tend to look for this file any time they find something worth reporting as the proposed standard is well known in the community since it has been with us for more than a couple of years now[2].

The draft covers much more than just publishing contact information so if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend that you take a look. But if you find yourself with just a couple of minutes to spare today and would like to make the life of anyone who might wish to report a vulnerability to you a lot easier, consider creating security.txt file in the /.well-known/ path or next to your robots.txt file. Even if you put in it just the relevant information about a contact where vulnerabilities and other security issues may be reported, it may help someone trying to do the right thing immensely.

To make this a bit easier, here is an example of the formats for contact information taken from the draft, on which you may base your first security.txt file.

Contact: tel:+1-201-555-0123



Jan Kopriva
Alef Nula

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