Security Experts:

Google Pays $25,000 Reward for Critical Chrome Flaw

Google has released a Chrome update to patch a critical vulnerability reported by a researcher who has asked the search giant not to reveal his identity.

The stable channel of Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux has been updated to version 48.0.2564.116 in order to address a security bug identified as CVE-2016-1629.

The flaw, described as a same-origin bypass in the Blink web browser engine and Chrome sandbox escape, earned the anonymous bug bounty hunter $25,633.7. Additional details will be disclosed by Google only after most users have updated their installations.

The reward paid by Google to the researcher who reported the critical Chrome vulnerability is considerably higher than the usual amounts given out by the company.

However, there are ways bounty hunters can earn much more for such flaws. Researchers who want to make a significant amount of money for Chrome exploits can save them for the upcoming Pwn2Own competition, which promises $65,000 to participants who hack Google’s web browser.

Another option, which is in a grey area, would be to sell it to an exploit acquisition firm like Zerodium. According to its website, Zerodium is prepared to offer up to $80,000 for a Chrome exploit that includes a sandbox escape. Finally, selling such an exploit on the underground market could fetch even more, but this comes with added risk for the seller.

Last month, when it updated Chrome to version 48, Google patched a total of 37 vulnerabilities, including several medium and high severity issues reported by external researchers. The company paid out a total of just over $10,000 to the experts who disclosed the flaws.

Mozilla also updated Firefox this month to patch a critical same-origin policy (SOP) violation and a series of critical flaws related to the Graphite 2 library.

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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.