Security Experts:

GitHub Updates Policies on Vulnerability Research, Exploits

Code hosting platform GitHub says it has updated its policies regarding vulnerability research, malware, and exploits, to permit dual-use security research.

Previously, the policies could be considered hostile toward projects with dual-use content, but the updated guidelines aim to make it clear that GitHub “enables, welcomes, and encourages” dual-use security research -- i.e. research that can be used for both good and bad purposes.

“We explicitly permit dual-use security technologies and content related to research into vulnerabilities, malware, and exploits,” the Microsoft-owned platform announced.

GitHub proposed some policy updates after some members of the cybersecurity community raised concerns over the removal of proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit code for some Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities. The company proposed some changes and asked for feedback, but the initial modifications were seen as problematic by many experts.

Many projects hosted on the platform are dual-use, and GitHub says it understands that these are beneficial to the security community. Furthermore, the platform notes that it assumes these are used for good, to promote and drive improvements.

In addition to making it clear that it welcomes dual-use content, GitHub shed more light on how and when it may take action against attacks that abuse the platform as an exploit/malware content delivery network (CDN), underlining that it does not tolerate the use of GitHub in support of unlawful attacks.

The code sharing service also allows users to appeal its decisions to restrict their content or their access to accounts, a policy considered highly important for security researchers.

Furthermore, the platform recommends including an optional file in projects to provide contact information that could be used in resolving conflicts directly with project maintainers, before filing abuse reports.

“We continue to welcome feedback and improvements on our various site policies and look forward to working together with the community to continue to drive improvements in this space,” GitHub concluded.

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