Project Zero (Google)

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Project Zero
Owner Google
Launched July 15, 2014 (2 years, 285 days ago)
Current status Online

Project Zero is the name of a team of security analysts employed by Google tasked with finding zero-day vulnerabilities. It was announced on 15 July 2014.[1]


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.[1] 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.[2] Other notable members include security researchers, such as Ben Hawkes, Ian Beer and Tavis Ormandy.[3]

Bug finding and reporting[edit]

Bugs found by the Project Zero team are reported to the manufacturer and only made publicly visible once a patch has been released[1] or if 90 days have passed without a patch being released.[4] 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.[4]

Notable members[edit]

Past members[edit]

Notable discoveries[edit]

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.[6] Microsoft was notified of the problem immediately but did not fix the problem within 90 days, which meant the bug was made publicly available on 29 December 2014.[4] Releasing the bug to the public elicited a response from Microsoft that they are working on the problem.[4]

On 19 February 2017 Google discovered a flaw within Cloudflare's reverse proxies,[7] 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.[8] A member of the Project Zero team referred to this flaw as Cloudbleed.[7]

On 27 March 2017 Tavis Ormandy of Project Zero discovered a vulnerability in the popular password manager LastPass[9].The issue was quickly resolved and all extensions have now been updated with the fix.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Evans, Chris (15 July 2014). "Announcing Project Zero". Google Online Security Blog. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Chris Evans on Twitter". Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Greenberg, Andy (15 July 2014). "Meet 'Project Zero,' Google's Secret Team of Bug-Hunting Hackers". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d Dent, Steven (2 January 2015). "Google posts Windows 8.1 vulnerability before Microsoft can patch it". Engadget. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Lawfareblog Hard National Security Choices Matt Tait". Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  6. ^ "Issue 118: Windows: Elevation of Privilege in ahcache.sys/NtApphelpCacheControl". google-security-research group on 30 September 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Issue 1139: cloudflare: Cloudflare Reverse Proxies are Dumping Uninitialized Memory". google-security-research group on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "Incident report on memory leak caused by Cloudflare parser bug". Cloudflare. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "Another hole opens up in LastPass that could take weeks to fix". Naked Security. 2017-03-29. Retrieved 2017-03-29. 

External links[edit]