A new Facebook program that pays cash rewards to people who report security bugs on the social networking site doled out more than $40,000 in its first three weeks.
According to a post published Monday by Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, researchers in 16 different countries have collected the bounties, which can reach as high as $5,000 for the best reports. One person has already received a total of $7,000 for flagging six different issues.
“We feel great knowing that we've launched another strong effort to help provide a secure experience on Facebook,” Sullivan wrote. “A bug bounty program is a great way to engage with the security research community, and an even better way to improve security across a complex technological environment.”
When Facebook announced the program last month, it joined Mozilla and Google in rewarding researchers who privately report vulnerabilities that could jeopardize the privacy or security of their users. To date, Google has paid more than $300,000 for bugs found on its various web properties – and that doesn't include bounties paid for vulnerabilities reported in Google's Chromium browsers.
At the other end of the spectrum are companies such as Microsoft and Adobe, which steadfastly refuse to pay bounties for private bug reports, even though their products greatly benefit from them. Last month, Microsoft offered a $250,000 reward leading to the conviction of the operators of the recently dismantled Rustock botnet, and earlier this month it promised more than $250,000 to researchers who develop new security defenses to protect Windows users against attacks that exploit software bugs.
In today's post, Sullivan clarified several fine points in its bug bounty program. The minimum amount paid is $500. The program has already awarded a $5,000 bounty “for one really good report.” He didn't say if there was a maximum amount, and he didn't spell out the criteria for determining when one report is better than another.
The program covers bugs found only on the main Facebook website. There are no plans to extend it to third-party apps that work with the website. ®