Bounties For Fixes

Posted by on October 11, 2013

It was just recently announced that Google will pay for open-source code security fixes ( Paying for stuff to happen is nothing new, we have seen Bug Bounty programs popping up in a lot of companies. The idea behind the bug bounty is that people can submit bugs they have found and then possibly get paid for that bug. This has been very successful for some large companies and some bug finders out there.

The difference in this new announcement is that they are paying for people to apply fixes to some open source tools that are widely used. I personally think this is a good thing because it will encourage people to actually start fixing some of the issues that exist. Security is usually bent on finding vulnerabilities, which doesn’t really help fix security at all. It still requires the software developers to implement some sort of change to get that security hole plugged. Here, we see that the push to fix the problem is now being rewarded. This is especially true in open-source projects as many of the people that work on these projects do so voluntarily.

Is there any concern though that this process could be abused? The first thought that comes to mind is people working together where one person plants the bug and the other one fixes it. Not sure how realistic that is, but I am sure there are people thinking about it. What could possibly be more challenging is verifying the fixes. What happens if someone patches something, but they do it incorrectly? Who is testing the fix? How do they verify that it is really fixed properly? If they find later that the fix wasn’t complete, does the fixer have to return the payment? There are always questions to be answered when we look at a new program like this. I am sure that Google has thought about this before rolling it out and I really hope the program works out well. it is a great idea and we need to get more people involved in helping fix some of these issues.


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