Vulnerabilities / Threats

2/9/2018
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Google Paid $2.9M for Vulnerabilities in 2017

The Google Vulnerability Reward Program issued a total of 1,230 rewards in 2017. The single largest payout was $112,500.

Google issued a total of $2.9 million in 2017 as part of its Google Vulnerability Reward Program, which has so far paid out $12 million since it was first created in November 2010.

More than $1 million was given for vulnerabilities discovered and reported in Google products, and $1.1 million was given for Android bugs. Google reports it gave out 1,230 individual rewards and 274 paid researchers were involved in the program last year.

The Vulnerability Research Grants program awarded $125,000 to more than 50 security researchers around the world. This initiative, a complement to the Vulnerability Reward Program, pays researchers and invited experts to investigate the security of Google products and services, even in situations where no vulnerabilities are discovered.

Its Patch Rewards Program, an experimental program founded in 2013 which rewards proactive security improvements to open-source projects, paid $50,000 to participants in 2017.

The largest individual reward from last year amounted to $112,500, which was also the highest-ever bug bounty paid for an Android flaw. It went to researcher Guang Gong, from the Alpha Team at Qihoo 360 Technology, who submitted the first working remote exploit chain since the Android Security Rewards (ASR) program expanded in June 2017.

Gong's exploit chain contained two bugs. CVE-2017-5116 is a V8 engine bug used to get remote code execution in the sandboxed Chrome render process. CVE-2017-14904 is a flaw in Android libgralloc module used to escape Chrome's sandbox. Combined, the chain can be leveraged to inject arbitrary code into system_server by accessing a malicious URL in Chrome.

Also worth noting is researcher "gzobqq," who earned the $100,000 pwnium award for a chain of bugs across five components, which achieved remote code execution in guest mode on the Chrome OS. Researcher Alex Birsan was paid $15,600 in bounties for discovering anyone could have gained access to internal Google Issue Tracker data.

Google is bumping up the highest reward for a remote exploit chain, or exploit leading to TrustZone or Verified Boot compromise, from $50,000 to $200,000. It has also increased the top reward for a remote kernel exploit from $30,000 to $150,000. The range of rewards for remote code executions runs from $1,000 to $5,000 per bug.

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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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