Apple Ups Bug Bounty Payouts, Expands Access to All Researchers and Launches macOS Program
Apple is introducing an expanded bug bounty program that covers macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and iCloud as well as iOS devices, Apple's head of security engineering Ivan Krstić announced this afternoon at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.
Apple introduced its bug bounty program for iOS devices in August of 2016, allowing security researchers who locate bugs in iOS to receive a cash payout for disclosing the vulnerability to Apple. Prior to now, non-iOS devices were not included, a move that has previously been criticized by the security community.
Apple's lack of a macOS bug bounty program made headlines earlier this year when a German teenager initially refused to hand over details of a major macOS Keychain security flaw because Apple didn't have a payout. While he did ultimately provide the info to Apple, he said that he hoped his refusal would inspire Apple to expand its bug bounty program, which the company has indeed done.
With the launch of the new macOS bug bounty program, Apple is opening its bug bounties up to all researchers later this year and it is increasing the maximum size of the bounty from $200,000 per exploit to $1 million depending on the nature of the security flaw. A zero-click kernel code execution with persistence will earn the maximum amount.
Researchers who discover vulnerabilities in pre-release software before general release can qualify for up to a 50 percent bonus payout on top of the base bug bounty amount.
As reported earlier this week, Apple also plans to provide vetted and trusted security researchers and hackers with "dev" iPhones, aka special iPhones that provide deeper access to the underlying software and operating system that will make it easier for vulnerabilities to be discovered.
Apple is providing these iPhones as part of its new iOS Security Research Device Program, launching next year. Apple's aim with these new bug bounty efforts is to encourage additional security researchers to disclose vulnerabilities, ultimately leading to more secure devices for consumers.