|Launched||July 15, 2014 (4 years, 113 days ago)|
After finding a number of flaws in software used by many end-users while researching other problems, such as the critical "Heartbleed" vulnerability, Google decided to form a full-time team dedicated to finding such vulnerabilities, not only in Google software but any software used by its users. The new project was announced on 15 July 2014 on Google's security blog. While the idea for Project Zero can be traced back to 2010, its establishment fits into the larger trend of Google's counter-surveillance initiatives in the wake of the 2013 global surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden. The team was formerly headed by Chris Evans, previously head of Google's Chrome security team, who subsequently joined Tesla Motors. Other notable members include security researchers, such as Ben Hawkes, Ian Beer and Tavis Ormandy.
Bugs found by the Project Zero team are reported to the manufacturer and only made publicly visible once a patch has been released or if 90 days have passed without a patch being released. The 90-day-deadline is Google's way of implementing responsible disclosure, giving software companies 90 days to fix a problem before informing the public so that users themselves can take necessary steps to avoid attacks.
On 30 September 2014 Google detected a security flaw within Windows 8.1's system call "NtApphelpCacheControl", which allows a normal user to gain administrative access.Microsoft was notified of the problem immediately but did not fix the problem within 90 days, which meant information about the bug was made publicly available on 29 December 2014. Releasing the bug to the public elicited a response from Microsoft that they are working on the problem.
On 19 February 2017 Google discovered a flaw within Cloudflare's reverse proxies, which caused their edge servers to run past the end of a buffer and return memory that contained private information such as HTTP cookies, authentication tokens, HTTP POST bodies, and other sensitive data. Some of this data was cached by search engines. A member of the Project Zero team referred to this flaw as Cloudbleed.
Project Zero was involved in discovering the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities affecting many modern CPUs, which were discovered in mid-2017 and disclosed in early January 2018. The issue was discovered by Jann Horn independently from the other researchers who reported the security flaw and was scheduled to be published on 9 January 2018 before moving the date up because of growing speculation.
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