Mobile security firm Zimperium has launched an exploit acquisition program that aims to bring undisclosed attack code for already patched vulnerabilities out in the open.
Paying for old exploits might seem like a waste of money, but there are technical and business arguments to justify such an acquisition system and they ultimately have to do with the difference between exploits and vulnerabilities.
A vulnerability is a software defect with potential security implications, while an exploit is the actual code that takes advantage of that bug to achieve a specific malicious goal, often by bypassing other security barriers along the way.
In practice, many vulnerabilities that get reported to vendors are not accompanied by working exploits. Showing that a programming error can lead to memory corruption is typically enough for the vendor to understand its potential implications — for example, arbitrary code execution.
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