We are committed to ensuring the security of the American public by protecting their information. As part of this, we recognize that public contributions can greatly enhance our ability to remediate security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by an adversary. We encourage security researchers to report potential vulnerabilities in our systems so that we can address any associated security issues.


In accordance with Department of Homeland Security Binding Operational Directive 20-01, we are issuing this Vulnerability Disclosure Policy to provide potential security researchers from the public with clear guidelines for conducting these vulnerability discovery activities. Our policy is drawn from the Department of the Interior (DOI) Vulnerability Disclosure Policy. It addresses what Service systems are within the scope of vulnerability reporting and provides instructions for submitting discovered vulnerabilities.

So long as you make a good faith effort to comply with this policy during your security research, we will consider your research to be authorized. Our Cyber Security personnel will work with you to understand and resolve the issue quickly and the Service will not recommend or pursue legal action related to your research. Should legal action be initiated by a third party against you for activities that were conducted in accordance with this policy, we will make this authorization known.


We would like to emphasize that once you’ve established that a vulnerability exists or encounter any sensitive data (including personally identifiable information (PII), financial information, or proprietary information or trade secrets of any party), you must stop your test, notify us immediately, and not disclose the data to anyone else.

For reference, PII includes any information that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information that is linked or linkable to an individual. This could include information like names, contact information, Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, date of birth, biometric identifiers (e.g., fingerprints, facial images), and medical or health information.

For more information on our security research guidelines, including allowable testing methods, please review the DOI Vulnerability Disclosure Policy “Guidelines” section.

Prohibited Testing Methods

The following test methods are not allowed:

  • 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


The following systems and services are currently under scope for this document:

  • *.rivers.gov

This list will be updated over time as new systems and services are placed under the scope. No testing or research activities should be conducted on any FWS systems or services that are not expressly included within this section.

Reporting a Vulnerability

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 DOI, 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.

Vulnerability reports can be submitted through Bugcrowd. Reports may be submitted anonymously. If you share contact information, we will acknowledge receipt of your report.

What We Would Like To See From You

In order to help us triage and prioritize submissions, we recommend that your reports:

  • Describe the location 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 in English, if possible.


Questions about this policy can be sent to VulnerabilityDisclosures@fws.gov.