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Google Offers Bonus Bounties for Flaws in Popular Android Apps

Google announced on Thursday that it’s prepared to offer a bonus of $1,000 to researchers who find serious vulnerabilities in some of the popular applications present on Google Play.

Google announced on Thursday that it’s prepared to offer a bonus of $1,000 to researchers who find serious vulnerabilities in some of the popular applications present on Google Play.

The new Google Play Security Reward Program was launched by Google in partnership with HackerOne. For the time being, the project only covers a handful of applications whose developers have opted in to the program.

The list includes Alibaba’s AliExpress, Dropbox, Mail.ru, Snapchat, Tinder, the Duolingo language learning app, meditation app Headspace, and the Line messenger app. All of the Android apps developed by Google itself are also eligible for a bonus reward. Other applications may be added in the future.

Researchers who discover a serious vulnerability in one of these Android apps need to report their findings to the respective developer via their HackerOne page or their self-managed bug bounty program. Once the flaw has been fixed, the bounty hunter can request a bonus reward from Google via its Play Security Reward Program.

For the time being, only remote code execution vulnerabilities are eligible for the $1,000 bonus, but other types of security holes may be added in the future. The report must include a proof-of-concept (PoC) and it must work on Android 4.4 and later, but it’s not required to achieve a sandbox escape.

Google noted that the bonus bounty needs to be requested within 90 days of a patch being made available by the developer.

“The program is limited to a select number of developers at this time to get initial feedback. Developers can contact their Google Play partner manager to show interest,” Google employees said in a blog post. “All developers will benefit when bugs are discovered because we will scan all apps for them and deliver security recommendations to the developers of any affected apps.”

Flaws found in Google’s own Android apps can be reported via the Google Vulnerability Reward Program and there is no need to separately request the bonus bounty once the issue has been addressed.

Related: Google Offers $200,000 for TrustZone, Verified Boot Exploits

Related: HackerOne Offers Free Service to Open Source Projects

Related: HackerOne Penetrates VC Pockets for $40 Million

Related: Google Pays $10,000 Bug Bounty to High School Student

Written By

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.

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