Vulnerability Disclosure Policy

 

Introduction

The Internal Revenue Service is committed to safeguarding the people we serve by protecting their information. This policy gives security researchers clear guidelines for conducting vulnerability discovery research and testing and reporting 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 to wait before publicly disclosing vulnerabilities.

We encourage you to contact us to report potential vulnerabilities in our systems.

Authorization

If you make a good faith effort to comply with this policy during your security research, we will consider your research to be authorized, we will work with you to understand and resolve the issue quickly, and the Internal Revenue Service will not recommend or pursue legal action related to your research.

Guidelines

Under this policy, "research" means activities in which you:

  • Notify us as soon as possible after you discover a real or potential security issue.
  • Make every effort to avoid privacy violations, degradation of user experience, disruption to production systems and destruction or manipulation of data.
  • Use exploits only to the extent necessary to confirm a vulnerability's presence. Do not use an exploit to compromise or exfiltrate data, establish persistent command line access or pivot to other systems.
  • Give us a reasonable amount of time to resolve the issue before you disclose it publicly.
  • Do not submit a high volume of low-quality reports.

Once you establish that a vulnerability exists or encounter any sensitive data (including personally identifiable information, financial information or proprietary information or trade secrets of any party), stop your test, notify us immediately, and do not disclose this data to anyone else.

Test methods

The following test methods are not authorized:

  • Network denial of service (DoS or DDoS) tests or 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
  • Full red-team penetration testing that involves unauthorized access to our servers.

Scope

This policy applies to the following systems and services:

  • *.irs.gov
  • *.irsnet.gov
  • *.irsvideos.gov
  • *.tax.gov
  • *.eftps.gov

Any service not expressly listed above, such as any connected services, are excluded from scope and are not authorized for testing. Vulnerabilities found in systems from our vendors also fall outside of this policy's scope and should be reported directly to the vendor according to their disclosure policy (if any). If you aren't sure whether a system is in scope or not, contact us at irs@responsibledisclosure.com before starting your research (or at the security contact for the system's domain name listed in the .gov WHOIS).

Though we develop and maintain other internet-accessible systems or services, we ask that active research and testing only be conducted on the systems and services covered by the scope of this document. If there is an out-of-scope system that you think merits testing, please contact us to discuss it first. We will increase the scope of this policy over time.

Reporting a vulnerability

We accept vulnerability reports at Internal Revenue Service Responsible Disclosure. You may submit reports anonymously. If you share contact information, we will acknowledge receipt of your report within 3 business days.

Information submitted under this policy will be used for defensive purposes only – to mitigate or remediate vulnerabilities. If your findings include newly discovered vulnerabilities that affect all users of a product or service and not solely the Internal Revenue Service, we may share your report with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, where it will be handled under their coordinated vulnerability disclosure process. We will not share your name or contact information without express permission.

What we would like to see from you

To help us triage and prioritize submissions, we recommend that your reports:

  • Describe where the vulnerability was discovered and the potential impact of exploitation
  • Offer a detailed description of the steps needed to reproduce the vulnerability (proof of concept scripts or screenshots are helpful)
  • Be written in English, if possible

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 issues.

Questions

Send questions regarding this policy to irs@responsibledisclosure.com. We also invite you to contact us with suggestions for improving this policy.

For information on how to report unauthorized disclosures of Federal Tax Information, visit the IRS Privacy Policy and select Privacy Complaints. 

Revision History

Date Revision
1-11-2024 Added this revision chart.
1-10-2024 Added four additional applicable URL domains under Scope heading: irsnet.gov, irsvideos.gov, tax.gov, eftps.gov.
11-16-2022 Added IRS Privacy Policy link and instruction to select the option "Privacy Complaints" for reporting unauthorized disclosures of federal tax information.
5-25-2022 Moved page from "Privacy Policy" section of site; made "Vulnerability Disclosure Policy" a separate navigation area in the left menu under "Our Agency."
5-20-2022 Web page published.