A bug bounty is a reward handed out by companies to people who disclose bugs or vulnerabilities to them in a responsible manner. Think of it like the wild west where anyone is deputised with powers to chase after the Kid and claim the reward dead or alive.
Traditionally companies like Google and Facebook offered bounties, but seeing the potential benefits, more and more smaller companies have been getting in on the act with companies like BugCrowd offering a brokerage service to bring together testers and companies.
After years of ‘will they, won’t they’ Microsoft jumped into the bounty-offering scheme with whooping $100k being paid out for cool windows 8 hackery. What is even more interesting about Microsofts bounty offering, as described by its Senior Security Strategist Katie Moussouris, was that it was designed to disrupt the vulnerability and exploit markets.
In other words, if an unsavoury person finds a vulnerability they would rather not disclose because they’d rather try to use it to make illicit gains, then any one of their associates can do a “Huggy Bear” and hand in the vulnerability whilst making off with the cash.
Wild west indeed – as J4vv4D and Girl Cynic found out.