The Department of State (DOS) 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 in accordance with this policy.
If you make a good faith effort to comply with this policy during your security research, we will consider your research to be authorized and we will work with you to understand and resolve the issue quickly, and Department of State 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 to such third party.
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 violations, degradation of user experience, disruption to production systems, and destruction or manipulation of data.
- 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 reasonable amount of time (typically 100 calendar days) to resolve the issue before coordinated disclosure.
- 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 (PII), medical 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.
In addition to any proscriptions in the guidelines above, the following test methods are not authorized:
- Network denial or distributed denial of service (DoS or DDoS) tests or other tests that impair access to or damage a system or data
- Physical testing (e.g., office access, open doors, tailgating), social engineering (e.g., phishing, vishing), or any other non-technical vulnerability testing
This policy applies to all Department internet accessible systems and services to include those on the following Department second level domains and source code repository:
- Source code at https://github.com/USStateDept
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 firstname.lastname@example.org before starting your research (or at the security contact for the system’s domain name listed in the .gov WHOIS).
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.
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 Department of State, we may share your report with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, where it will be handled under their coordinated vulnerability disclosure process. We may also share your report with other U.S. Government entities if required by law or regulation. We will not share your name or contact information without express permission.
We accept vulnerability reports via this web form or via email@example.com. Reports may be submitted anonymously. If you share contact information, we will acknowledge receipt of your report within 3 business days.
We do not support PGP-encrypted emails. For particularly sensitive information, submit through our HTTPS web form.
What we would like to see from you
In order to help us triage and prioritize submissions, we recommend that your reports:
- Describe when the vulnerability was discovered, its location, and the potential impact of exploitation.
- Offer a detailed description of the steps needed to reproduce the vulnerability (proof of concept scripts or screenshots (if they don’t contain sensitive data) are helpful).
- Provide a mitigation recommendation and include any related technical information.
- 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.
Questions regarding this policy may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to contact us with suggestions for improving this policy.
Document Change History
|1.0||March 4, 2021||First issuance|