Since it is becoming more difficult to find serious vulnerabilities in Chrome, Google has decided to increase the amount of money it pays to researchers who contribute to making the Web browser more secure.
Tim Willis of the Chrome Security Team revealed in a blog post that the new bug bounty range is between $500 and $15,000, which is a considerable increase from the previous maximum of $5,000. Of course Google handed out some impressive rewards in the past, including $30,000 last month to a researcher who found an interesting combination of vulnerabilities, but the official maximum up until now was $5,000.
The company also published a table outlining the amounts of money it’s prepared to pay for the most common types of vulnerabilities. For example, a high quality report with a functional exploit for an information leak issue will be rewarded with $4,000. Researchers who identify a universal XSS flaw and provide Google with a report containing a minimized test case can earn $5,000 as long as they can demonstrate that exploitation of the bug is very likely. Experts who report a sandbox escape issue and provide a reliable exploit can get the maximum reward of $15,000.
Those who provide a well-written patch along with their report can earn an extra $500 or $1,337.
The rewards listed by Google are for Chrome on Windows 7 and later, Mac OS X 10.9 and later, Linux, Android 4.4 and later, iOS 7 and later, and current versions of Chrome OS. Vulnerabilities affecting Chrome on Windows XP and Vista can also be eligible, but they are rewarded with less money. The good news for those who have reported bugs starting with July 1, 2014 is that they will be rewarded according to the new reward levels.
“Researchers now have an option to submit the vulnerability first and follow up with an exploit later. We believe that this a win-win situation for security and researchers: we get to patch bugs earlier and our contributors get to lay claim to the bugs sooner, lowering the chances of submitting a duplicate report,” Willis said.
In addition to monetary rewards, researchers who report flaws will also be listed in the Google Hall of Fame.
Google has also provided some details on its Trusted Researcher program, which allows fuzzer developers to really put their creations to the test and earn money in the process. Vulnerabilities uncovered by fuzzers are rewarded with the exact same amount of money as those identified through other means, but only if Google’s own fuzzers don’t find the same bug within 48 hours.
The Trusted Researcher program is invitation only. Those who want to have a chance at taking part in the program are advised to submit quality vulnerabilities found by their fuzzers. “If we like what we see, we’ll reach out with the details!” Google said.