Uber, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook offer cold hard cash to their users for finding bugs in their software, and now Apple does too. The news came yesterday as Apple announced the invite-only program, expected to begin in September, will offer cash rewards to users who identify vulnerabilities in their system.
These so called ‘Bug Bounty’ programs are nothing new to big tech. Google paid out $2 million in bounties last year alone which included the now famous purchase of ‘google.com’ by Sanmay Ved who was awarded $6006.13 or ‘google’ spelled in numbers. Apple’s top reward will be $200,000, though only for the most critical security vulnerabilities. This change may have come following public criticism following the Apple vs. FBI San Bernardino feud earlier this year. Following a lengthy public dispute during which Apple refused the FBI’s requests to unlock an alleged murder’s device, the FBI was able to purchase an undisclosed vulnerability to unlock the device.
By opening the bug search to the wider public and offering cash rewards, hackers will have an incentive to share this information with the tech giant. As the program rolls out to only a few dozen select researchers, more will be added as time passes. Apple admits that nonmembers may still approach the company and may even earn a member seat if a significant bug is identified.