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Mozilla ups the ante, boosts bug bounties to $10,000

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June 11, 2015

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Mozilla said earlier this morning that it has up the ante on the various cash rewards under its 'dusty bug bounty' to beyond $10,000 per case reported.

The decision could be viewed as some proof that the Mozilla Foundation appears to improve the security of its software.

The rewards are only for high-severity security bugs such as those leading to remote code execution without requiring other vulnerabilities.

Mozilla engineer Raymond Forbes says the bounty had not been updated in more than 5 years and had fallen out of step with the rest of the IT industry. "The amount awarded was increased to $3,000 five years ago and it is definitely time for this to be increased again," Forbes added.

"We have dramatically increased the amount of money that a security vulnerability is worth and we are moving to a variable payout system based on the quality of the bug report, the severity of the flaw, and how clearly the vulnerability can be exploited", he added.

"Finally, we looked into how we decide what vulnerability is worth a bounty award as well," he concluded.

Mozilla previously awarded $3,000 for critical security vulnerabilities that could seriously endanger users. It paid smaller amounts for only some moderate vulnerabilities that will under the revamp now attract up to $2,000.

The Firefox team also launched its 'security bug hall of fame' which is a common but important component of bug bounty programs, and will also soon open a version for web services.

Overall, bug bounties are enjoying a boom of late with many large organizations opening in-house and also outsourced programs of sorts to attract security vulnerability researchers from all over the world.

The new programs promise to increase the security profile of organizations while providing hackers with an opportunity to practice their skills and earn cash or prizes without the threat of legal ramifications.

On average, various programs must be properly set up prior to launch including clear security policies and contact details posted to an organization's web site, and strong communication between various IT staff and bug hunters.

Hackers will often drop unpatched security vulnerabilities to the public domain if an organization fails to respond or refuses to fix the bugs.

Source: The Mozilla Foundation.

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