Feeds

Google (finally) pays bounties for Chrome bug reports

Up to $1,337

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Google will begin paying bounties as high as $1,337 to researchers who privately report high-severity security bugs in its Chrome browser and Chromium open-source project.

The "experimental new incentive," which Google announced Thursday, is for external researchers only. It addresses a key complaint among many researchers that the security of far too many applications is built on the backs of people who receive no compensation for the countless hours they spend discovering and reporting critical vulnerabilities.

"It's a step in the right direction because it's compensating security researchers for their time in looking for vulnerabilities," said Dino Dai Zovi, a researcher who last year launched a campaign with the rallying cry "No more free bugs". "A lot of companies treat vulnerabilities as accidental discoveries, which is really not the case."

Over the years, Dai Zovi has reported critical bugs in Sun Microsystems' Solaris and Apple's Mac OS X that could have caused considerable harm to users had the vulnerabilities been exploited by criminals. To date, neither company has paid him a dime. Microsoft, Oracle and virtually every other commercial software manufacturer also steadfastly refuse to reward responsible disclosure, even though their products also benefit from it.

The Internet Explorer bug that criminals used to pierce the defenses of Google and other companies has probably cost Microsoft hundreds of thousands of dollars in man hours and damage to reputation. One can only guess if the vulnerability, which lurked in the browser for years, would have been fixed sooner had white-hat hackers had more of an incentive to find it.

Adobe might also benefit from such a program.

To date only a handful of software makers offer security bug bounties. They apply almost exclusively to open-source projects such as Mozilla's Firefox, Daniel J. Bernstein's djbdns.

Google's program will offer a base reward of $500 for certain reports and as much as $1,337 (the number is often used as hacker shorthand for "elite") for "high and critical impact bugs." A panel established by Google will have sole discretion for awarding cash rewards. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.