A zero day is a previously unknown security vulnerability in software or online services that a researcher has discovered, but the developers have not yet had a chance to patch. A thriving market has emerged for these zero days; in some cases governments--including
EFF filed a FOIA request for records related to these processes on
"This FOIA suit seeks transparency on one of the least understood elements of the U.S. intelligence community's toolset: security vulnerabilities," EFF Legal Fellow Andrew Crocker said. "These documents are important to the kind of informed debate that the public and the administration agree needs to happen in our country."
Over the last year, U.S. intelligence-gathering techniques have come under great public scrutiny. One controversial element has been how agencies such as the NSA have undermined encryption protocols and used zero days. While an intelligence agency may use a zero day it has discovered or purchased to infiltrate targeted computers or devices, disclosing its existence may result in a patch that will help defend the public against other online adversaries, including identity thieves and foreign governments that may also be aware of the zero day.
"Since these vulnerabilities potentially affect the security of users all over the world, the public has a strong interest in knowing how these agencies are weighing the risks and benefits of using zero days instead of disclosing them to vendors," Global Policy Analyst
For the complaint: https://www.eff.org/document/eff-v-nsa-odni-complaint
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