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Comments on the Wassenaar Arrangement 2013 Plenary Agreements Implementation: Intrusion and Surveillance Items
by Decius at 7:57 pm EDT, Jul 20, 2015

Submitted by:
Tom Cross
CTO – Drawbridge Networks

Thank you for opening a public comment period regarding the proposed implementation of export controls on Intrusion items. I am writing because I believe that these regulations may interfere with important work that computer security professionals do to protect the Internet from attacks. Breaches of both government and private sector computer networks are a regular item in the headlines, and they have significant impacts on our economy and our national security. The recently disclosed breach at the Office of Personnel Management that resulted in the loss of security clearance information about millions of Americans is stark example of the problem that we are trying to combat.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) should exercise caution before taking steps that could make this problem worse than it already is. Export Controls on computer security information can have a chilling effect on important international collaboration, even if that is not intended. Furthermore, it may be difficult to measure the security failures that are the secondary effects of that break down in collaboration.

I am qualified to address this topic because I have professional expertise with both US Export Controls and Computer Security Vulnerability Research. From 2003 to 2012 I worked for Internet Security Systems (ISS), which was acquired by IBM in 2006.

At ISS, I served as an engineering advisor to their export compliance program. I helped the company understand how the software we were building fit into the framework of US Export Controls. In collaboration with our attorneys, I wrote Letters of Explanation to BIS for a number of different Export Classifications and I wrote one Commodities Jurisdiction request to the State Department.

Additionally, as part of my job, I engaged in primary computer security vulnerability research and for some time I managed the organization’s vulnerability research work. I identified vulnerabilities in popular commercial software applications, disclosed those vulnerabilities to the responsible software vendors, and worked with them to fix those issues. I participated in security industry information sharing programs in which technical information about vulnerabilities, and attack tools, is privately shared between information security companies, coordination centers, and the broader software industry. I had access through those programs to more technical detail about certain security vulnerabilities than was ever disclosed to the general public. It was my responsibility to ensure that ISS’s products correctly detected attack activity targeting those vulnerabilities. Those products are used by thousands of organizations around the world to protect their computer networks from attack.

I have broken my comments into four sections:

I. Technical Information about computer security issues that i... [ Read More (1.8k in body) ]

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