Feeds

Google to award bounties for fixing non-Google open source code

Patch pillars of the internet, earn valuable crumbs

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Google is expanding its bug bounty program to include awards for patches that make material security improvements to open source software - even when the software isn't directly maintained by Google itself.

The Chocolate Factory has been rewarding developers for security fixes to its own software since 2010, when it kicked off its bounty program for the Chrome web browser. Now the company says it will also shell out cash to developers who submit fixes to select non-Google software, too.

To qualify for the program, developers must produce "down-to-earth, proactive improvements that go beyond merely fixing a known security bug," according to a blog post by Google security team member Michal Zalewski on Wednesday.

Initially, the bounty program applies only to a select group of open source projects, such as the OpenSSL and OpenSSH secure communications libraries, the BIND DNS software, and security-critical components of the Linux kernel, to name a few.

After an initial trial period, it will be expanded to include even more projects, including such popular packages as the Apache webserver, the Sendmail, Postfix, and Exim email servers, and the Gnu software development tools.

Zalewski said Google chose this selective approach because it believes it will be more productive than offering bug bounties for just any old open source software.

"In addition to valid reports, bug bounties invite a significant volume of spurious traffic – enough to completely overwhelm a small community of volunteers," he wrote. "On top of this, fixing a problem often requires more effort than finding it."

Aside from ponying up the cash, Google's approach will be mostly hands-off. Developers don't need to clear their fixes with Mountain View before submitting their patches. Instead, they should submit them directly to the maintainers of the projects in question. Once the patches are accepted and the updated code has shipped, they can then email security-patches@google.com with a description of what they did.

"If we think that the submission has a demonstrable, positive impact on the security of the project, you will qualify for a reward ranging from $500 to $3,133.7," Zalewski writes.

In fact, the online ad giant may choose to cough up even more in cases of "unusually clever or complex submissions" – the actual amount of each award being left to Google's sole discretion.

Then again, some developers may choose to contribute security patches strictly out of a sense of duty. In these cases, Google says they can opt to donate their bounty awards to charity and it will match their donations. Bounties that haven't been claimed after 12 months will be donated to a charity of Google's choice. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.