Federal Communications Commission
March 1, 2021
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is committed to ensuring the security of the American public by protecting their information. This policy is intended to give security researchers clear guidelines for conducting vulnerability discovery activities and to convey our preferences in how to submit discovered vulnerabilities to us.
This policy describes what systems and types of research are covered under this policy, how to send us vulnerability reports, and how long we ask security researchers to wait before publicly disclosing vulnerabilities.
We encourage you to contact us to report potential vulnerabilities in our systems.
All fcc.gov domains are within scope of the FCC’s vulnerability disclosure program and are authorized for testing. Vulnerabilities found in systems from our vendors fall outside of this policy’s scope and should be reported directly to the vendor according to their disclosure policy (if any). If you aren’t sure whether a system is in scope or not, contact us at NSOC-Monitor@fcc.gov. before starting your research. Though we develop and maintain other internet-accessible systems or services, we ask that active research and testing only be conducted on the systems and services covered by the scope of this document. If there is a particular system not in scope that you think merits testing, please contact us to discuss it first. The scope of this policy will increase over time.
If the FCC determines that you made a good faith1 effort to comply with this policy during your security research, we will consider your research to be authorized, we will work with you to understand and resolve potential issues quickly, and the FCC will not recommend or pursue legal action related to your research. Should legal action be initiated by a third party against you for activities that were conducted in accordance with this policy, we will make this authorization known.
1 “In the context of [the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Binding Operational Directive 20-01], “good faith” means security research conducted with the intent to follow an agency’s [Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP)] without any malicious motive; [the FCC] may evaluate an individual’s intent on multiple bases, including by their actions, statements, and the results of their actions. In other words, good faith security research means accessing a computer or software solely for purpose of testing or investigating a security flaw or vulnerability and disclosing those findings in alignment with the VDP. The security researcher’s actions should be consistent with an attempt to improve security and to avoid doing harm, either by unwarranted invasions of privacy or causing damage to property.” Additional information on what is meant by good faith can be found at https://cyber.dhs.gov/bod/20-01/#what-does-the-directive-mean-by-good-faith.
Under this policy, “research” means activities in which you:
- Notify us as soon as possible after you discover a real or potential security issue.
- Make every effort to avoid privacy breaches, degradation of user experience, disruption to production systems, and destruction or manipulation of data. In the event you encounter personally identifiable information during your testing, you will immediately cease testing and notify the FCC.
- Only use exploits to the extent necessary to confirm a vulnerability’s presence. Do not use an exploit to compromise or exfiltrate data, establish command line access and/or persistence, or use the exploit to pivot to other systems.
- Provide us a minimum of 90 day’s to resolve the issue before requesting to publicly disclose the report.
- Do not submit a high volume of low-quality reports
Once you’ve established that a vulnerability exists or encounter any sensitive data (including personally identifiable information, financial information, or proprietary information or trade secrets of any party), you must stop your test, notify us immediately, and not disclose this data to anyone else.
The following test methods are not authorized:
- Network denial of service (DoS or DDoS) tests or other tests that impair access to or damage a system or data (Such as Brute Force Testing).
- Physical testing (e.g. office access, open doors, tailgating), social engineering (e.g. phishing, vishing), or any other non-technical vulnerability testing.
Information and Assistance
Reporting a vulnerability
Information submitted under this policy will be used for defensive purposes only – to mitigate or remediate vulnerabilities. If your findings include newly discovered vulnerabilities that affect all users of a product or service and not solely the FCC, we may share your report with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, where it will be handled under their coordinated vulnerability disclosure process.
We accept vulnerability reports through our bugcrowd program (https://bugcrowd.com/fcc-vdp) and questions can be directed to NSOC-Monitor@fcc.gov.. Reports may be submitted anonymously. If you share contact information, we will acknowledge receipt of your report within 5 business days.
What we would like to see from you
In order to help us triage and prioritize submissions, we recommend that your reports:
- Describe the location the vulnerability was discovered and the potential impact of exploitation.
- Offer a detailed description of the steps needed to reproduce the vulnerability (proof of concept scripts or screenshots are helpful).
- Be in English, if possible.
What you can expect from us
When you choose to share your contact information with us, we commit to coordinating with you as openly and as quickly as possible.
- Within 5 business days, we will acknowledge that your report has been received.
- To the best of our ability, we will confirm the existence of the vulnerability to you and be as transparent as possible about what steps we are taking during the remediation process, including any issues or challenges that may delay resolution.
- We will maintain an open dialogue to discuss issues.
Questions regarding this policy may be sent to NSOC-Monitor@fcc.gov. We also invite you to contact us with suggestions for improving this policy.