White House Announces Vulnerabilities Equities Policy and Process
On November 15, 2017, the Trump administration released the Vulnerabilities Equities Policy and Process. This document describes the process by which U.S. agencies and departments determine whether to disclose or restrict information on vulnerabilities in information systems and technologies. The Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) balances whether to disclose vulnerability information to the vendor or supplier in the expectation that the vulnerability will be fixed or to temporarily restrict disclosure of the information so that it can be used for national security and/or law enforcement purposes.
The Equities Review Board (ERB), consisting of individuals from numerous agencies, functions as the forum for interagency deliberation and determination concerning the VEP. The National Security Agency will function as the VEP Executive Secretariat. The VEP Executive Secretariat will oversee communications, documentation and recordkeeping for the VEP. The VEP Executive Secretariat will also publish a report of unclassified information on an annual basis.
The VEP provides steps for submitting and reviewing identified vulnerabilities:
- When an agency determines that a vulnerability reaches the threshold for entry into the VEP, it will notify the VEP Executive Secretariat and provide a recommendation for disclosure or restriction of the vulnerability.
- The VEP Executive Secretariat will provide notice to all agencies of the ERB and request agencies to respond if they have a strong interest (i.e., “equity”) in the vulnerability. Any agencies with a strong interest in the vulnerability must concur or disagree with the recommendation.
- The ERB will then reach a consensus on whether or not to disclose or restrict the vulnerability