Coders who can find bugs in software connected to one of Facebook's latest acquisitions -- Oculus Rift Virtual Reality -- could receive a reward of at least $500 for doing so. That's because the social networking giant has just added Oculus to its White Hat bounty program.
Facebook launched its "Bug Bounty" program three years ago, and has since paid millions of dollars in rewards to security researchers who have identified code flaws in its products and infrastructure. The program applies not only to Facebook itself but to several of its other properties, including Instagram, Parse, Onavo, Moves and -- now -- Oculus.
Announced this past March, Facebook's acquisition of Oculus carried a price tag of around $2 billion. According to a Facebook news release issued at the time, "Facebook plans to extend Oculus' "existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas. Given these broad potential applications, virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform."
$3 Million and Counting
We reached out to Facebook to learn more about its bounty program.
Launched in 2011, the program has now resulted in more than $3 million in awards to researchers who have identified software issues, a Facebook spokesperson said in an e-mail. Facebook paid $1.5 million to 330 bug-finders in 2013 alone.
Bounty amounts are based on "severity and creativity," the spokesperson added. While reward amounts start at $500, there is no upper limit for bounties.
As of August of 2013, the largest bounty paid for identifying a security issue was $20,000, according to Facebook's security blog. The post added that some individuals have already collected more than $100,000 through the program, and two have gone on to join Facebook as full-time members of the company's security team.
Ready for Market by 2015?
Based in Irvine, California, Oculus VR (for "virtual reality") was founded by Palmer Luckey and financed via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $2.4 million for the startup. Its Oculus Rift gaming headset for the consumer market is in development.
Oculus began shipping out its Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 this summer. Designed for developers who want to create virtual reality content for the device, the kit includes a headset, two pairs of vision lenses, an external camera, a camera USB cable, an HDMI-DVI adapter, a sync cable and a power cord. The price for the kit is set at $350.
A July 24 blog post at the Oculus VR Web site said the company expected to have "over 9,000 DK2s in developers' hands by Aug. 1. Over one year in development, the new release features "a major update" to the software development kit, the post added.
A spokesperson for Oculus said the company is not currently offering any interviews or comments. However, according to a Business Insider report earlier this year, a consumer version of Oculus Rift could hit the market in 2015.