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Google ups bug bounty to $20,000 per flaw

Researchers offered major payday

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Google is increasing the amount it is willing to pay to security researchers for bugs, with the most serious flaws now priced at up to $20,000.

Google's security team has changed its payments plan and will now pay up to $20,000 for flaws that would allow code execution on its production systems. There's a $10,000 bounty for SQL injection or similar flaws, and some information disclosure, authentication, and authorization bypass bugs. XSS, XSRF, and other high-impact flaws in highly sensitive applications are also due for a payout, if just $3,133.7.

"The new rules offer reduced rewards for vulnerabilities discovered in non-integrated acquisitions and for lower risk issues. For example, while every flaw deserves appropriate attention, we are likely to issue a higher reward for a cross-site scripting vulnerability in Google Wallet than one in Google Art Project, where the potential risk to user data is significantly smaller," said the Google security team in a blog posting.

All awards are scrutinized and awarded by an internal committee before being handed out, but so far Google says it has paid out around $460,000 to over 200 security researchers since it started offering cash for flaws in 2010.

Google is far from alone in offering financial incentives for researchers who find bugs, with Mozilla, Facebook and Secunia among the companies that have a similar attitude. So far, Microsoft has resisted the temptation (it's got a big cash pile but a hell of a lot of flaws as well) but Redmond isn't above offering specific bounties for botnet controllers. ®

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