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Google raises bounty on software bugs

07:26 AEST Tue Apr 24 2012
AAP
Google: on the hunt for hackers.
Google: on the hunt for hackers.

Google has raised to $US20,000 (NZ$24,611) its bounty on software bugs that hackers could exploit for cyber attacks on the internet giant's online services.

The maximum reward for exposing a vulnerability that would let an intruder's code get up to mischief in a Google data centre was ramped up from the $US3,133 (NZ$3855) payout set when the bounty program was launched in November of 2010.

"When we get more bug reports, we get more bug fixes," Google security team manager Adam Mein told AFP on Monday.

"That is good for our users; that is good for us."

Google has paid out approximately $US460,000 (NZ$566,110) since it established the Vulnerability Reward Program.

Of the 11,000 software flaws reported to Google, more than 780 qualified for rewards ranging from $US300 (NZ$369) to the maximum, a figure selected because the digits translate into a technical term in a hacker programming language.

The bounty was raised to inspire software savants to hunt for difficult-to-find, and potentially perilous, bugs hidden deep in programs, according to Mein.

"We want them to know the reward is there for them if they find the most severe bugs," Mein said.

Bugs found in more sensitive services such as Google smartphone "Wallet" software tends to merit more generous rewards.

People vying for bounties have tended to be computer security professionals; engineering students honing their skills, and website operators, according to Google.