Intel Boosts Bug Bounties in Wake of Spectre & Meltdown

Intel is increasing its bug bounty program in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities found within the company's x86 CPUs.

Scott Ferguson, Managing Editor, Light Reading

February 15, 2018

3 Min Read

Intel created its first bug bounty program in March with the purpose of engaging the security community and incentivizing researchers to find vulnerabilities in the company's chips.

Now, in the wake of Spectre and Meltdown, the program is expanding.

The expanded Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) Bug Bounty Program, which the chip maker announced February 14, highlights three specific improvements to help deal with issues such as Spectre and Meltdown, as well as Intel's pledge to be more open to security concerns. (See Security Warning: Intel Inside.)

Specifically, the bug bounty program update focuses on side-channel vulnerabilities, which are akin to Spectre and Meltdown, which came to light earlier this year, following the release research paper that has dinged Intel's reputation in the security community. (See Intel CEO Promises Chips That Fix Spectre & Meltdown Flaws .)

(Source: Intel)

(Source: Intel)

These updates include:

  • A shift away for an invitation-only program to one that is open to all security researchers, which should increase the pool of those looking for flaws and vulnerabilities in the company's CPUs.

  • Between now and December 31, Intel will offer rewards of up to $250,000 for information on side-channel vulnerabilities.

  • An overall increase in the amount of money the company pays in bug bounties, including as much as $100,000 for details about certain vulnerabilities and flaws.

"We believe these changes will enable us to more broadly engage the security research community, and provide better incentives for coordinated response and disclosure that help protect our customers and their data," Rick Echevarria, vice president of Software and Services Group and the general manager of Platforms Security Division, wrote in Wednesday's blog post.

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The specific requirements about how to apply to the bug bounty program and what it takes to collect the bounties can be found on Intel's security site.

When news about Spectre and Meltdown broke in January, Intel issued several patches to fix the problem, but those were criticized as slowing down CPU performance, as well as other problems. ZDNet recently reported on a test that showed issues with the Meltdown patch. (See Linus Torvalds: Intel's Spectre Patch Is 'Complete & Utter Garbage'.)

Other companies have looked to offer different tools to help mitigate the problems with Spectre and Meltdown. This week, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) offered a free update to its Windows Analytics service that allows IT departments to track Spectre and Meltdown updates and issues throughout a PC fleet.

In addition, Microsoft released a security update on Tuesday to fix issues in Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows, Office, Edge and other products. Redmond also updated the frequently asked questions section of its Security TechCenter site to address issues related to side-channel vulnerabilities.

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

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About the Author(s)

Scott Ferguson

Managing Editor, Light Reading

Prior to joining Enterprise Cloud News, he was director of audience development for InformationWeek, where he oversaw the publications' newsletters, editorial content, email and content marketing initiatives. Before that, he served as editor-in-chief of eWEEK, overseeing both the website and the print edition of the magazine. For more than a decade, Scott has covered the IT enterprise industry with a focus on cloud computing, datacenter technologies, virtualization, IoT and microprocessors, as well as PCs and mobile. Before covering tech, he was a staff writer at the Asbury Park Press and the Herald News, both located in New Jersey. Scott has degrees in journalism and history from William Paterson University, and is based in Greater New York.

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