Since a vulnerability rewards program for open source web browser project Chromium was instituted in early 2010, many vulnerabilities have been found and dealt with, and researchers have been rewarded by Google with amounts that ranged from $500 to $1337 – depending on the severity of the bug – or even $10,000 for multiple bugs and impressive reports.
But as the years passed, the majority of “low-hanging” vulnerabilities have been reported and fixed, and the offered prizes seem now like too small sums for researchers to make the effort of finding more complex ones.
The significant drop-off in externally reported security issues has been taken as a signal that that bugs are becoming harder to find and that Chromium has become significantly stronger, so the people behind the project decided to introduce some changes to the reward structure, which are as follows:
- A bonus of $1,000 or more on top of the base reward for “particularly exploitable” issues,
- A bonus of $1,000 or more on top of the base reward for bugs in stable areas of the code base, and
- A bonus of $1,000 or more on top of the base reward for serious bugs which impact a significantly wider range of products than just Chromium (for example, certain open source parsing libraries).
Chris Evans, a Software Engineer with the project, also made examples of individual items that might impress the panel awarding the $10,000 prizes, which include Nvidia / ATI / Intel GPU driver vulnerabilities, local privilege escalation exploits in Chrome OS via the Linux kernel, serious vulnerabilities in IJG libjpeg, 64-bit exploits, and renderer to browser exploits.
So far this year, Google has paid researchers more than $250,000, nearly half of it to a pair who exploited Chrome at this year’s Pwn2Own hacking contest.
Google last patched security vulnerabilities in Chrome on Aug. 8 and last paid bounties on July 31.