Security Experts:

Facebook Paid Out $5 Million in Bug Bounties Since 2011

Five years after the launch of its bug bounty program, Facebook says it has paid out a total of more than $5 million to the researchers who have helped the company find and patch vulnerabilities in its systems and products.

In its report for 2015, Facebook said it had awarded bounty hunters a total of $4.3 million since the launch of its program in 2011. The total amount has increased considerably since then, with more than $611,000 awarded to 149 researchers in the first half of 2016.

The company received over 9,000 bug reports between January and June. Similar to the previous period, the highest percentage of payouts went to researchers based in India. The United States and Mexico also made the top three in the first half of 2016 – positions occupied in 2015 by Egypt and Trinidad and Tobago.

According to Facebook, 900 researchers earned rewards since the launch of its program. These experts have also helped the company improve the program. For instance, participants are now provided information on how their bounty amount was determined.

“While five years is a great milestone, we're not resting on our laurels. We are always looking to improve and expand the program,” explained Joey Tyson, a security engineer on the Facebook Bug Bounty team. “This year, we added WhatsApp to our program, expanded payment options to include Bitcoin, and switched to an automated payment process so we can pay researchers faster.”

The company has promised to continue improving its program and share more resources that can be of use to white hats interested in analyzing Facebook.

There are many satisfied researchers who have earned thousands of dollars in bug bounties, but not everyone is happy with how Facebook operates its bug bounty program. Some accused the social media giant of being inconsistent in its assessment of bug reports, and one expert even claimed he was threatened.

Related: Facebook's "Osquery" Security Tool Available for Windows

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Related: Researcher Finds Malicious Web Shell on Facebook Server

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.