It’s one of the most popular browsers in the world, and people expect to be safe — so why wouldn’t Mozilla want to increase the rewards in its bug bounty program for Firefox to $10,000?
According to the details available online, Mozilla’s rules are much like those of other bug bounty programs, which insist that those reporting problems are not the ones causing them, the issue involves remote exploits and that it be a new issue the company hasn’t yet seen. An internal committee reviews all submissions, and awards are distributed at its discretion.
Mozilla may be tweaking its rewards in part to keep up with competitors such as Microsoft, which raised the top tier of compensation of its own bug bounty program to a maximum of $15,000 a few months ago. A spokesperson at Mozilla told ZDNet the increases were long overdue and represent a 70 percent increase over what was offered a handful of years ago. That said, getting to the $10,000 mark will mean bringing forward an extremely high-risk threat to Firefox, though there are also some rewards for bugs deemed “moderate.”
The concept of a bug bounty program is becoming standard business practice, Threatpost suggested, because it offers a way of crowdsourcing IT security analysis. The alternative is to rely solely on in-house resources, which can be expensive, or simply responding to flaws after they are reported by customers who have experienced a problem. Obviously, the potential cost for the latter scenario is incalculable, and the wide use of browsers in particular make them a popular target for cybercriminals.
In some respects, of course, the most important aspects of a bug bounty program is the follow-through. As The Register pointed out, cybercriminals have a history of taking advantage of software flaws that aren’t properly patched. Besides having consistent and transparent guidelines for a program, there should be some sense of how quickly bugs will be dealt with by the company involved. For example, a few months ago a security researcher published a blog post stating that, despite its well-known bug bounty program, eBay had left a cross-site scripting (XSS) flaw unresolved for more than a year after it was first reported.
Besides offering more cash, Mozilla will differentiate itself by showing it can be a lot quicker to get bugs fixed. Raising the stakes of threat reporting should also motivate security professionals to dig a little deeper to find vulnerabilities within a system, meaning fewer running flaws and a more solid end product for Mozilla and Firefox users — hopefully.