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Google offers white hats $3,000 for open source project security patches

10 Oct 2013
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Google has extended its Vulnerability Reward Program to pay bug hunters and security professionals up to $3,133 for security improvements to a number of open source projects.

Google Security Team member, Michal Zalewski, announced the extended Patch Rewards scheme in a blog post, arguing current bug bounty programs are not doing enough to improve open source projects' general cyber security.

"We all benefit from the amazing volunteer work done by the open source community. That's why we keep asking ourselves how to take the model pioneered with our Vulnerability Reward Program - and employ it to improve the security of key third-party software critical to the health of the entire Internet," he wrote.

"So we decided to try something new: provide financial incentives for down-to-earth, proactive improvements that go beyond merely fixing a known security bug. Whether you want to switch to a more secure allocator, to add privilege separation, to clean up a bunch of sketchy calls to strcat, or even just to enable ASLR - we want to help!"

Zalewski confirmed the Patch Rewards scheme will initially apply to a select number of projects. Current projects included in the program are OpenSSH, BIND, ISC DHCP, libjpeg, libpng, giflib, Chromium, Blink, OpenSSL, zlib and a select number of security critical parts of the Linux kernel.

The Google security professional added the company plans to extend the program to include upgrades to Apache httpd, lighttpd, nginx, Sendmail, Postfix, Exim, GCC, binutils, llvm, and OpenVPN in the near future.

Professionals looking to take advantage of the payment scheme will have to submit their application to the security-patches@google.com email address. In order to be eligible for payment developers will first have to show their work has already been submitted and used by the relevant open source project. Rewards on offer range from $500 to $3,133. The exact payout is determined by a panel of Google judges.

Security reward programs are an increasingly common tool used by technology companies. Prior to the Google Patch Rewards scheme's announcement Microsoft paid a UK researcher $100,000 for uncovering a new type of mitigation bypass technique that could be used to attack a number of its products.

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

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