Security Experts:

Mozilla to Researchers: Stay Away From User Data and We Won’t Sue

Security researchers looking to find bugs in Firefox should not worry about Mozilla suing them, the Internet organization says. That is, of course, as long as they don’t mess with user data.

Mozilla, which has had a security bug bounty program for over a decade, is discontent with how legal issues are interfering with the bug hunting process and has decided to change its bug bounty program policies to mitigate that.

Because legal protections afforded to those participating in bounty programs failed to evolve, security researchers are often at risk, and the organization is determined to offer a safe harbor to those researchers seeking bugs in its web browser.

According to the Internet organization, bug bounty participants could end up punished for their activities under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA),the anti-hacking law that criminalizes unauthorized access to computer systems.

“We often hear of researchers who are concerned that companies or governments may take legal actions against them for their legitimate security research. […] The policy changes we are making today are intended to create greater clarity for our own bounty program and to remove this legal risk for researchers participating in good faith,” Mozilla says.

For that, the browser maker is making two changes to its policy. On the one hand, the organization has clarified what is in scope for its bug bounty program, while on the other it has reassured researchers it won’t take legal action against them if they don’t break the rules.

Now, Mozilla makes it clear that participants to its bug bounty program “should not access, modify, delete, or store our users’ data.” The organization also says that it “will not threaten or bring any legal action against anyone who makes a good faith effort to comply with our bug bounty program.”

Basically, the browser maker says it won’t sue researchers under any law (the DMCA and CFAA included) or under its applicable Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy for their research performed as part of the bug bounty program.

“We consider that security research to be ‘authorized’ under the CFAA,” Mozilla says.

These changes, which are available in full in the General Eligibility and Safe Harbor sections of organization’s main bounty page, should help researchers know what to expect from Mozilla.

Related: Inside the Legislative and Regulatory Minefield Confronting Cybersecurity Researchers

Related: Mozilla Revamps Bug Bounty Program

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