The Social Security Administration (SSA) is committed to ensuring the security of the American public by protecting their information. This policy is intended to give security researchers and the general public 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 and the public to wait before publicly disclosing vulnerabilities. Another purpose of this policy is to provide safe harbor from litigation against security testers that discover system vulnerabilities in an authorized manner.
We encourage you to contact us to report potential vulnerabilities in our systems.
The SSA welcomes and authorizes good-faith security research. Such research is defined to include a researcher's access to an information system listed within the scope of this policy, in a manner that comports with this policy, and where the researcher reports any vulnerability that is discovered through the research pursuant to the reporting requirements in this policy. Discovery of a vulnerability is not a condition of good-faith security research. Once a vulnerability is reported to the SSA, we will work with you to understand and resolve the security weakness quickly.
The SSA will not recommend or pursue legal action related to your research if the agency concludes you made a good faith effort to follow the policy, and we deem that activity authorized. Should legal action be initiated by a third party against you for activities that were conducted in accordance with this policy and you notify us of that action and the contact information for the parties involved, we will make this authorization known to that party.
Those conducting research under this policy must discover, test, and submit vulnerabilities or indicators of vulnerabilities in accordance with the guidelines in this policy. Your research activities are limited exclusively to the discovery of vulnerabilities and sharing with, or receiving from, the SSA information about vulnerabilities or indicators related to possible vulnerabilities. You must not damage or disrupt access to SSA systems and must not exploit any vulnerability beyond the minimal amount of testing required to prove that a vulnerability exists or to identify an indicator related to a vulnerability.
In conducting authorized good-faith security research, you must:
- Take steps to identify security weaknesses in SSA online systems.
- Make every effort to avoid privacy violations, degradation of user experience, disruption to production systems, and destruction or manipulation of data.
- View and store SSA nonpublic data only to the extent necessary to document the presence of a potential vulnerability.
- Notify us as soon as possible after you discover a real or potential security issue.
- 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), you must stop your test, notify us immediately, and not disclose sensitive data to any third parties (i.e. those beyond SSA).
The following test methods are not authorized by this policy:
- Network denial of service (DoS or DDoS) tests or resource exhaustion attacks.
- 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.
- Deleting, altering, sharing, retaining, or destroying SSA data, or rendering SSA data inaccessible.
- Other test methods are authorized as long as they do not otherwise violate this policy.
This policy applies to the following publicly accessible systems and services:
Any service not expressly listed above, such as any connected services, are excluded from the scope of this policy and are not authorized for testing. Additionally, vulnerabilities found in systems operated by 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 are unsure whether a system is in scope or not, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org before starting your research.
Though we may develop and maintain other internet-accessible systems or services, active research and testing may 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 may increase the scope of this policy over time.
Reporting a Vulnerability
Vulnerability reports must be sent via email to email@example.com. Reports may be submitted anonymously and you are not required to provide contact information beyond the email address used for submission. We will acknowledge receipt of your report within 3 business days.
If your findings include newly discovered vulnerabilities that affect all users of a product or service and not solely the SSA, we may share your report with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, where it will be handled under their coordinated vulnerability disclosure process.
By submitting a vulnerability, you acknowledge that you have no expectation of payment and that you expressly waive any future pay claims against the U.S. Government related to your submission.
What we require from you
In order for us to triage and prioritize submissions, your reports must:
- Describe the location the vulnerability was discovered and the potential impact of exploitation, if known.
- Offer a detailed description of the steps needed to reproduce the vulnerability (technical information needed to reproduce, any proof of concept code, etc.).
- Be in English, if possible.
You must wait at least 90 days after the date of our acknowledgement of receipt of your report before publicly disclosing any reported vulnerabilities.
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 reported vulnerabilities, including regular follow-up communications with the vulnerability reporter, to include an agency-defined timeline for remediation or coordinated disclosure.
Document Change History
|1.0||January 25, 2021||First Issuance|