Former director of DARPA, Arati Prabhakar, joins others on stage during "What Are They Thinking? Man Meets Machine" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, California. The research and development arm for the Department of Defense have successfully demonstrated a limited set of use cases for applying zero-knowledge proofs to the software vulnerability disclosure process. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

There are few relationships in cybersecurity more delicate than the one between a security researcher who discovers a vulnerability in commercial software or hardware and the company they notify.

The company may not care about the flaw or its impact on customers, or it might downplay the severity to avoid payment, fail to prioritize patching or simply go after the researcher with legal threats. The researcher may try to extort the company, or disagree on its potential for harm or simply believe that a timelier public disclosure will incentivize the business to develop a quicker patch to protect end users.

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