Security Experts:

Facebook Password Reset Flaw Earns Researcher $15,000

A researcher says he has earned $15,000 for informing Facebook of a vulnerability that could have been exploited to reset the password of any user account.

India-based bug bounty hunter Anand Prakash discovered that he could change user account passwords due to a brute-force vulnerability in beta.facebook.com, the Beta Tier domain which gets major code changes and hotfixes ahead of the production version to allow developers to perform tests and report any issues before they impact production services.

When users forget their password, they can reset it by confirming their account with a 6-digit code received via email or text message. Users can normally only try up to a dozen codes before Facebook’s brute-force protections kick in and attempts to enter the account confirmation code are blocked.

However, Prakash discovered that the protection was not implemented on beta.facebook.com, which could have allowed malicious actors to easily find the 6-digit code by launching a brute force attack.

In a video demonstrating the issue, the expert used Burp Suite, the popular web app security testing toolset, to show how easily the 6-digit codes could have been guessed, allowing an attacker to reset user account passwords.

According to Prakash, the vulnerability was reported to Facebook on February 22 and it was patched by the next day. The expert said the social media giant rewarded his work with $15,000.

Facebook revealed last month that it had paid out a total of $4.3 million to researchers since the launch of its bug bounty program in 2011. Last year, the company awarded nearly $1 million to 210 researchers who submitted a total of 526 valid reports. The highest number of rewards went to India, Egypt, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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