Apple Increases Bug Bounty Payouts, Launches macOS Program

Apple Increases Bug Bounty Payouts, Launches macOS Program”

The prize will go to anyone who can hack an iPhone or Mac under certain conditions. It's by far the highest bug bounty on offer from any leading tech company. Researchers who uncover safety flaws that have an effect on platforms apart from iOS are eligible to obtain payouts as massive as $200,000.

Apple announced the changes to its bug-bounty program during the Black Hat cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas alongside other critical updates.

Following the launch of the Apple Bug Bounty program for iOS back in September 2016, the company wants to even cement its research program by providing unlocked iPhones for security researchers.

Continuing its bug bounty program to all of its platforms is a very long time coming for Apple, and maybe motivated by individuals withholding disclosure of bugs due to the dearth of incentive. One of the features of these special-variant devices is the ability to pause the processor and look at what's happening with the data in memory. Thereafter, there are half a million dollars on offer for anyone who can manage to gain unauthorized zero-click access to confidential user info over a network without requiring user intervention.

There will also be smaller rewards, up to $500,000, for disclosing other types of vulnerabilities; for example, bypassing an iPhone's lock screen while having physical access to the device will net you $100,000, while kernel code execution via a user-installed app is worth $150,000. There's also a 50 percent bonus for hackers who can find weaknesses in software before it's released. Deep-level and sophisticated iPhone hacks are highly sought after. Apple's new bug bounties are in the same range as some published prices from these contractors, presumably in a bid to deter hackers from approaching those companies and report to Apple instead.

A number of private companies, such as Israel's NSO Group, sell hacking capabilities to governments.

A user on Hacker News comments, "1M is a lot of money to me, a regular person, but when you consider that top security engineering talent could be making north of 500k in total compensation, 1M suddenly doesn't seem all that impressive".

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