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Google Offers Bucks For Bugs In Its Web Applications
Security
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 17:08

From Dark Reading


New vulnerability reward program could set precedent in white-hat Web hacking

Google has launched a bold, experimental vulnerability reward program that pays researchers who discover legitimate, critical flaws in its Web applications -- including Google.com, Blogger.com, Orkut.com, and YouTube.com.

Web hacking traditionally has posed some tricky legal challenges for researchers. Google's new program encourages researchers to poke holes in its Web services and pays anywhere from $500 to $3,133.70 for a severe or "clever" vulnerability -- a move experts say could open the door for other cloud-based providers to do the same.



"Google is the first major company to come forward and invite attacks against its online in-production applications," says HD Moore, creator of Metasploit and chief security officer at Rapid7. "While security researchers have spent years testing software applications and reporting the findings, those that decided to take this approach online have faced legal challenges. This is a great precedent for the security community and will hopefully encourage other services providers to take a similar approach."

Google says its Web properties under the program include any that manage or show sensitive, authenticated user data or accounts, but its client apps, such as Picasa, Google Desktop, and Android, are off-limits for now.

The program comes on the heels of a similar program to reward bug finds in its Chromium software, which was started back in January.

Buying Web bugs from researchers is not the norm: HP TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative, for example, doesn't purchase Web services vulnerabilities because the codebase changes so regularly and rapidly, says Aaron Portnoy, manager of the security research team at HP TippingPoint. "This is interesting because Google is kind of going into some uncharted territory," Portnoy says. "We've seen a lot of vulnerabilities in Facebook or YouTube or Google, but our policy is we don't buy them."

"Google is filling a gap we don't deal with," he adds. "This is nice to see because it means someone is going to be patching these."

 

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