The recently closed Full Disclosure security mailing list, which served as an open discussion forum for security researchers since 2002, was replaced Tuesday with a new list that will serve the same purpose, but will require former members to resubscribe.
The new list will continue to be called Full Disclosure, but will be managed by Gordon Lyon, a well-known network security expert and creator of the popular Nmap security scanner. Lyon is known in the security community by his online handle Fyodor.
In a message posted on his site Tuesday, Lyon said that he decided to set up a replacement for the Full Disclosure mailing list after he spoke with the list’s former maintainer, John Cartwright, who actually suggested the idea.
“After some soul searching about how much I personally miss the list (despite all its flaws), I’ve decided to do so!” Lyon said. “I’m already quite familiar with handling legal threats and removal demands (usually by ignoring them) since I run Seclists.org, which has long been the most popular archive for Full Disclosure and many other great security lists. I already maintain mail servers and Mailman software because I run various other large lists including Nmap Dev and Nmap Announce.”
Cartwright co-founded the original list in July 2002 and managed it until last Wednesday when he abruptly suspended the service. In a final message posted to the list at the time, Cartwright expressed his disappointment with the overall state of the hacker community and said his decision was prompted by a content removal request received from an unnamed security researcher.
Like the old list, the new one will be a public and vendor-neutral forum of discussion about vulnerabilities and exploitation techniques, and will only be lightly moderated by a team of volunteers selected from active users.
“FD [the Full Disclosure mailing list] differs from other security lists in its open nature, light (versus restrictive) moderation, and support for researchers’ right to decide how to disclose their own discovered bugs,” Lyon said. “The full disclosure movement has been credited with forcing vendors to better secure their products and to publicly acknowledge and fix flaws rather than hide them. Vendor legal intimidation and censorship attempts won’t be tolerated!”
The security expert disagrees with people who suggested in the past week that such a list is no longer needed because researchers can just host their advisories on websites like Pastebin and post links to them on Twitter.
“Mailing lists create a much more permanent record and their decentralized nature makes them harder to censor or quietly alter in the future,” he said.
The problem with hosting security advisories in different places around the Internet instead of a centralized place is that they could be removed silently for various reasons and it would be hard to refer to them in the future.
“The ‘Tweet + link’ method simply does not cut it unless you want vulnerability provenance to vanish in large amounts,” said Brian Martin, a moderator of the Open Sourced Vulnerability Database who’s known in the hacker community as Jericho, in a blog post last week. “It is bad enough that VDBs [vulnerability databases] have to rely on the Internet Archive so often […], but forcing us to set up a system to mirror all original disclosures is a burden.”