Dear Mr. Leonard,
As well you are aware; the Hacker Safe brand has long been viewed by those in the information security field with varying levels of skepticism, if not vehement disdain. As there are a plethora of blogs, articles, and exposed vulnerabilities available for you to review, I will not waste your time with excerpts validating our position. Suffice it say, the community at large shares certain doubt about the service offering ScanAlert arrogantly calls Hacker Safe.
It is our view that this is a marketing position only. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, is truly "hacker safe". You claim that websites are free of vulnerabilities when they are clearly not. This is disingenuous and is at the root of what angers information security professionals. If a site is vulnerable while under the auspicious care of ScanAlert's Hacker Safe program should it not lose its Hacker Safe credential until such a time as the vulnerability is remediated? If I take this down to a fundamentally simple premise, saying a site is Hacker Safe while vulnerable to SQL injection, XSS, CSRF, etc. is, in essence, a misrepresentation. If a consumer commits a transaction on a site that is vulnerable, are they not at risk due to vulnerabilities your service claims to scan for? While we understand that you are in the business of growing revenue by indicating websites as “hacker safe”, we believe you are also beholden to the consumers using those sites.
We ask of you this: if a site is found to be vulnerable during your scans, or as reported by third parties, then enforce the findings and suspend their certification. Strive to improve your scan engine where possible. It is your responsibility to NOT label a site “Hacker Safe” when it is not. Then, at least, you are telling the truth, and a consumer can make an informed choice as to how confident they feel about the site's security practices.
There are, at the time of this writing, sites still vulnerable to XSS, yet branded Hacker Safe, that were identified as vulnerable MORE THAN A YEAR AGO. These sites should not be reported as Hacker Safe, period.
Please don't insult us with more of Joseph Pierini’s pearls of wisdom like “XSS vulnerabilities aren't material to a site's certification”. Adopting a view like this is ridiculous and blatantly ignorant given the risks to consumers. You scan for XSS and clearly denote it in your How We Scan section. Therefore, if a site is vulnerable to XSS it is not “Hacker Safe”.
This is far from the first round, credit sla.ckers.org with driving this point home in 2006, only to be shrugged off by Pierini then too. I think there may be a job opening for him over at Zango. Perhaps he could change his mantra from “XSS is not our problem” to “We don’t make spyware.”
What about the PCI argument? If a site is vulnerable to XSS, it’s simply not compliant. See this post for details. It all adds up to consumers at risk. ScanAlert should remember, above all, that safety for the consumer is paramount. Why not live up to your marketing hype and offer a service that truly, honestly, and with integrity, lives up to even a fraction of its namesake.
"What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so. - Mark Twain"
Those information security professionals wishing to lend your name to this plea, please add your name as a comment.
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