Vulnerability Disclosure Policy
United States Environmental Protection Agency
March 01, 2021
EPA is committed to ensuring the security of the American public by protecting their information from unwarranted disclosure. 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 want security researchers to feel comfortable reporting vulnerabilities they’ve discovered – as described in this policy – so we can fix them and keep our users safe. We have developed this policy to reflect our values and uphold our sense of responsibility to security researchers who share their expertise with us in good faith.
We request that you:
- Notify us as soon as possible after you discover a real or potential security issue.
- Provide us a reasonable amount of time to resolve the issue before you disclose it publicly.
- Make every effort to avoid privacy violations, degradation of user experience, disruption to production systems, and destruction or manipulation of data.
- Do not submit a high volume of low-quality reports.
- Only use exploits to the extent necessary to confirm a vulnerability’s presence.
- Once you’ve established that a vulnerability exists or encounter any sensitive data (including personally identifiable information, financial information, proprietary information or trade secrets of any party), you must stop your test, notify us immediately, and not disclose this data to anyone else.
If you make a good faith 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 the issue quickly, and EPA will not recommend or pursue legal action related to your research.
Disclosure of vulnerabilities is completely voluntary. In no case shall disclosure of vulnerability information to the EPA constitute a contractual or any other type of relationship with the EPA. By submitting a vulnerability, the researcher acknowledges that, there is no expectation of payment for these services and waives any future payment claims against the U.S. Government related to the submission.
This policy applies to the following EPA systems and services:
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. We will increase the scope of this policy over time.Any service not expressly listed above, such as any connected services, are excluded from scope and are not authorized for testing. Additionally, vulnerabilities found in non-federal 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 or endpoint is in scope or not, contact us at VSMT@EPA.GOV or contact the security point of contact for the system’s domain name listed in the .gov WHOIS before starting your research.
Security researchers must not:
- Test any system other than the systems set forth in the ‘Scope’ section;
- Disclose vulnerability information except as set forth in the ‘Reporting a Vulnerability’ section below;
- Engage in physical testing (e.g. office access, open doors, tailgating), social engineering (e.g. phishing, vishing), or any other non-technical vulnerability testing;
- Send unsolicited electronic mail to EPA users, including “phishing” messages;
- Execute or attempt to execute “Denial of Service” or “Resource Exhaustion” attacks or introduce malicious software;
- Test in a manner known to degrade the operation of EPA systems; or intentionally impair, disrupt, or disable EPA systems;
- Test third-party applications, websites, or services that integrate with or link to or from EPA systems;
- Delete, alter, share, retain, or destroy EPA data, or render EPA data inaccessible; or,
- Use an exploit to exfiltrate data, establish command line access, establish a persistent presence on EPA systems, or “pivot” to other EPA systems.
Security researchers may:
- View or store EPA nonpublic data only to the extent necessary to document the presence of a potential vulnerability.
Security researchers must:
- Cease testing and notify us immediately upon discovery of a vulnerability,
- Cease testing and notify us immediately upon discovery of an exposure of nonpublic data, and
- Purge any stored EPA nonpublic data upon reporting a vulnerability.
Information submitted under this policy will be used for defensive purposes only – to mitigate or remediate vulnerabilities.
Reports are accepted via electronic mail at VSMT@EPA.GOV and may be submitted anonymously. Acceptable message formats are plain text, rich text, and HTML. Please include “Vulnerability disclosure” in the subject line.
Reports should provide a detailed technical description of the steps required to reproduce the vulnerability, including a description of any tools needed to identify or exploit the vulnerability. Images, e.g., screen captures, and other documents may be attached to reports. It is helpful to give attachments illustrative names. Reports may include proof-of-concept code that demonstrates exploitation of the vulnerability. We request that any scripts or exploit code be embedded into non-executable file types. We can process all common file types, and also file archives including zip, 7zip, and gzip.
Researchers may submit reports anonymously. Or, researchers may provide contact information, and any preferred methods or times of day to communicate, as they see fit. We may contact researchers to clarify reported vulnerability information or other technical interchange.
The EPA utilizes opportunistic Transport Layer Security (TLS) for both incoming and outgoing electronic mail; however, we prefer that vulnerability report also be encrypted using attached password-protected archive files, like those in ZIP format. Passwords should be provided in a separate communication or email.
By submitting a report to the VSMT, researchers warrant that the report and any attachments do not violate the intellectual property rights of any third party and the submitter grants the VSMT a non-exclusive, royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual license to use, reproduce, create derivative works, and publish the report and any attachments. VSMT will not share names or contact information without explicit permission from the researcher.
What we would like to see from you
In order to help us triage and prioritize submissions, we recommend that your reports:
- Describe the vulnerability, where it 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), and
- 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 (3) 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 on issues or challenges that may delay resolution.
- We will maintain an open dialogue to discuss issues.
The EPA is committed to timely correction of vulnerabilities. However, we recognize that public disclosure of a vulnerability, in absence of a readily available corrective action, likely increases versus decreases risk. Accordingly, we require that you refrain from sharing information about discovered vulnerabilities for 90 calendar days after you have received our acknowledgement of receipt of your report. If you believe others should be informed of the vulnerability prior to our implementation of corrective actions, we require that you coordinate in advance with us.
We may share vulnerability reports with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), as well as any affected vendors. We will not share names or contact data of security researchers unless given explicit permission.
Questions regarding this policy may be sent to VSMT@EPA.GOV. The EPA encourages security researchers to contact us for clarification on any element of this policy. Please contact us prior to conducting research if you are unsure if a specific test method is inconsistent with or unaddressed by this policy. We also invite security researchers to contact us with suggestions for improving this policy.
Document change history
|1.0||August 10, 2020||First Draft|