Security Experts:

MIT Launches Bug Bounty Program

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has launched a bug bounty program to encourage responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities found on its websites.

The program, currently in alpha testing, is only for MIT affiliates with valid certificates. Other security experts who find flaws on the organization’s domains can report them to MIT’s security team.

Students who report serious vulnerabilities found on student.mit.edu, atlas.mit.edu, learning-modules.mit.edu, and bounty.mit.edu can earn TechCASH rewards. TechCASH is a stored value account plan that allows MIT students, affiliates and employees to pay for food, books and various services on and off campus.

Top contributors will also be allowed to keep their Kerberos accounts after they graduate. MIT noted that rewards will only be given when the program is publicly launched.

The bug bounty program can be used to report remote code execution, SQL injection, authorization bypass, information leak, cross-site scripting (XSS) and cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities. Issues related to denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, social engineering, exploits that require physical or local access, and bugs that do not pose a real security risk are not in scope.

The program has only a few rules: focus on in-scope domains, do not access any private data, do not disclose vulnerabilities before they’re patched, do not conduct disruptive tests, and do not use “noisy” automated scanners.

“All bounties given are intended to show thanks, and are by no means payments for services. We reserve the right to not reward any report if we so choose, and will not be held accountable for time spent researching,” MIT noted on its bug bounty website.

An increasing number of organizations launched bug bounty programs over the past period in an effort to encourage researchers to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities. The U.S. Department of Defense announced last month that it allocated $150,000 for its “Hack the Pentagon” initiative.

The list of companies that launched bug bounty programs over the past year also includes Uber, antivirus maker Malwarebytes, United Airlines and Dropbox.

Related Reading: Army Experts Call for Vulnerability Response Program

Related Reading: Bugcrowd Raises $15 Million to Expand Bug Bounty Business

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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.