Google has increased the amount it will pay security researchers for information about flaws in its Chrome browser, having already shelled out more than $2 million in bug bounties across its various security reward programs. ”In a nutshell, bugs previously rewarded at the $1,000 level will now be considered for reward at up to $5,000,” Chris Evans and Adam Mein, the Chocolate Factory’s ‘masters of coin’, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
The online ad-slinger says it has already paid out more than $1 million in bounties through its Chromium Vulnerability Reward Program and its Pwnium competition, plus another $1 million or so for its Google Web Vulnerability Reward Program.
The bounties have been good business for some hackers, several of whom have claimed multiple awards. One of the most frequently rewarded Chrome bug hunters, Sergey Glazunov, has claimed bounties totaling more than $150,000 to date.
But then, that’s still peanuts compared to what Google would have to pay Glazunov and his fellow bug-bounty winners to work as security staffers on the Chrome team. In fact, a recent paper published by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that over a three-year period, Google’s bug bounty programs cost it less than it would likely have paid a single full-time employee.
In effect, Monday’s rate increase means Google’s crowdsourced, virtual security researcher just got a raise – albeit not a very big one.