01 February 2010 | 5,918 views

Google Willing To Pay Bounty For Chrome Browser Bugs

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This is a pretty interesting development from Google and also seems to be coming much more common now, companies openly offering payments for bugs/vulnerabilities discovered in their software.

It’s a chance for the white-hat guys to earn a few bucks, but honestly I don’t think it’s going to change anything. Especially not when we’re talking $500 per vulnerability.

A serious browser 0-day exploit that can allow execution of malware will go for 100 times that much on the black market so there’s no real incentive for the bad guys to give up their code for $500.

Google yesterday announced a bug-bounty program that will pay researchers $500 for each vulnerability they report in the Chrome browser and its underlying open-source code.

In a post to the Chromium project’s blog , Chris Evans, who works on the Chrome security team, said the base bounty would be $500, but that “particularly severe or particularly clever” bugs would reap rewards of $1,337 each.

The latter amount is a reference to “leet,” a kind of geek-speak used by some researchers; there, “leet” is rendered as “1337.”

New vulnerabilities in Chrome, Chromium — the open-source project that Google uses to craft Chrome — and plug-ins that ship with Chrome, such as Google Gears, are eligible for bounties, said Evans. Bugs that are ranked “high” or “critical” in Chrome’s rating system get preference, he added, but others may be considered.

Even for the particularly severe or clever bugs they can award up to $1,337, that’s still peanuts compared to what they can sell the exploit for on the open market – or even to companies like TippingPoint ZDI who claim to pay 10 times more (which would be more reasonable, $5000 for a working exploit).

I hope it helps though and gives some legitimate security researches a little more incentive to focus on Chrome, the bad guys won’t pay much attention though as Chrome is still a relatively small player in the browser world.

“We are hoping that … this program will encourage new individuals to participate in Chromium security,” said Evans. “The more people involved in scrutinizing Chromium’s code and behavior, the more secure our millions of users will be.”

“Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox…those browsers have been out there for a long time,” said Pedram Amini, manager of the security research team at 3com’s Austin, Tex.-based TippingPoint, which operates Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), one of the two best-known bug-bounty programs. “But Chrome, and now Chrome OS, need researchers. Google needs people to put eyes on the target.”

Google’s new bounty program isn’t the first from a software vendor looking for help rooting out vulnerabilities in its own code, but it’s the largest company to step forward, Amini said. Microsoft , for example, has traditionally dismissed any calls that it pay for vulnerabilities. “This will be beneficial to Google,” Amini added. “There are actually very few vendors who play in the bounty market, but Google doing it is definitely interesting.”

I don’t realistically expect any groundbreaking bugs to come out of this initiative, but I think a few people might bust out their browser fuzzing tools and see what they can find.

Worth a bit of effort if you can find 10 decent bugs in a couple of hours and net yourself $5000usd.

Source: Network World



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3 Responses to “Google Willing To Pay Bounty For Chrome Browser Bugs”

  1. cbrp1r8 1 February 2010 at 3:21 pm Permalink

    I wouldn’t waste my time for 500 bucks…I can make that pan-handling the street off the interstate in about 6-8hrs…

    If they really wanna make it worth while then they need to add a zero to the end of it and making it $5000…then people might think about it….like said in the article and you find it 10x that amount on the black market for a hot new exploit…

    Here’s my suggestion for google:

    Crit- $5000
    High- $1000
    Med- $500
    Low- $100

    they might get some takers then…

  2. Darron 2 February 2010 at 5:26 pm Permalink

    I think that the valuable part of this is that Google is saying “If you tell us about a security bug we will listen to you, and not try to prosecute you for hacking”.

  3. Daniel 9 February 2010 at 1:38 am Permalink

    A practice that would surely bankrupt Microsoft..