Microsoft and Facebook are serious about exterminating bugs. So serious, in fact, that they are sponsoring a bug bounty campaign that aims to find vulnerabilities in some critical software supporting the Internet stack.
HackerOne is putting on the bug hunting contest and will serve up rewards that range from $300 to $5,000 or more, depending on how widespread the vulnerability is and its severity.
“We've selected some of the most important software that supports the Internet stack, and we want you to hack it,” HackerOne’s Internet Bug Bounty Web site reads. “If the public is demonstrably safer as a result of your contribution to Internet security, we'd like to be the first to recognize your work and say ‘thanks’ by sending some cash to you or your favorite non-profit.”
Scouring the Internet
So what software is in the program? Here’s the list: Sandbox Escapes; Open SSL; Python; Ruby; PHP; Django; Rails; Perl; Phabricator; Nginx; Apache httpd; and the Internet at large.
“The Internet Bug Bounty is managed by a panel of volunteers selected from the security community,” HackerOne said. “These security experts are responsible for defining the rules of the program, allocating bounties to where additional security research is needed most, and mediating any disagreements that might arise.”
Facebook, Microsoft, iSEC Partners, Etsy and Chrome are on the panel. Along with HackerOne, these groups are working to foster a community of hackers who are incentivized to improve the state of Internet security for the world. Part of the program’s goal is also to remove the negative stigma from the “hacker” label.
A Welcome Addition
We turned to Chester Wisniewski, a senior security Advisor at Sophos, for his take on the HackerOne contest. He told us he thinks it is a welcome addition to existing bug bounty programs, particularly considering that it covers many open source projects that might normally not have the funding or staff to run a program themselves.
“Projects like Ruby on Rail and OpenSSL are critical components of our computing infrastructure, but like much of the Internet are showing their age,” he said. “If exploitable, these components pose a risk to all Internet surfers and it is good that more time and attention might be put toward finding their flaws because of a cash incentive.”
Hacking Contests Risings
Hackathons are gaining momentum this fall. Salesforce.com is turning heads with a $1 million #salesforcehack during its Dreamforce event that begins on November 18. Here’s the deal: Developers will create the next killer app on the Salesforce Platform for a chance to win a cool $1 million.
Salesforce has noticed a trend: with social networks rising -- and with the simultaneous proliferation of mobile devices -- developers are looking to capitalize on the potentially lucrative technology shift to create a new class of apps.
“We’re in the midst of a mobile app renaissance,” said Adam Seligman, vice president of Salesforce Platform developer and partner marketing. “Developers are reinventing how business works, and how companies connect with their customers. With the Salesforce Platform, they have the proven mobile, social and cloud services to create exponentially more productive apps for the enterprise.”