Google has long had a team of dedicated security researchers looking for security weaknesses in its own products and occasionally other popular software used widely across the Internet, but the company has announced a new initiative in an effort to make the Internet more secure for all.
On Tuesday Google said it would create a new, “well-staffed” security team called Project Zero with the objective to significantly reduce the number of people harmed by targeted attacks.
“You should be able to use the web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets or monitor your communications,” Chris Evans, Researcher Herder at Google wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “Yet in sophisticated attacks, we see the use of “zero-day” vulnerabilities to target, for example, human rights activists or to conduct industrial espionage.”
This needs to stop, Evans said.
“We’re not placing any particular bounds on this project and will work to improve the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers,” Evans explained. “We’ll use standard approaches such as locating and reporting large numbers of vulnerabilities. In addition, we’ll be conducting new research into mitigations, exploitation, program analysis—and anything else that our researchers decide is a worthwhile investment.”
Under Project Zero, Google says it will be committed to transparency, explaining that every bug they find will be entered in an external database.
According to Evans, bugs found by the Project Zero team will be reported directly to the software’s vendor—and no third parties.
“Once the bug report becomes public (typically once a patch is available), you’ll be able to monitor vendor time-to-fix performance, see any discussion about exploitability, and view historical exploits and crash traces,” Evans said. “We also commit to sending bug reports to vendors in as close to real-time as possible, and to working with them to get fixes to users in a reasonable time.”
Google also said it would look at ways to involve the wider community, such as extending its bug bounty initiatives and guest blog posts.