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VeriSign Puts Flaw Bounty on Vista and IE7 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the bug-money dept.
rchris1172 writes "VeriSign's iDefense Labs has placed an $8,000 bounty on remote code execution holes in Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7. As part of its its controversial pay-for-flaw VCP (Vulnerability Contributor Program), iDefense said it will pay the reward for each submitted vulnerability that allows an attacker to remotely exploit and execute arbitrary code on either of the two Microsoft products. In addition to the $8,000 award for the flaw, iDefense will pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for working exploit code that exploits the submitted vulnerability."
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VeriSign Puts Flaw Bounty on Vista and IE7

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  • Only 8k? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:21PM (#17548402)
    Only 8k for bugs which go on the market for 15-100k each exploit? Surely you jest, no self righteous will go for such a scam.
    • Yeah I think they're seriously underestimating what a brand-new remote code execution flaw would be worth to the Russian mob. I'm pretty sure $8,000 is a lowball estimate.

      Although I suppose you could play both ends against each other, if you were ballsy enough; sell it to Verisign and the mob. Too bad I have this silly fear of death.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by w33t (978574)
      Only 8k for bugs which go on the market for 15-100k each exploit? Surely you jest, no self righteous will go for such a scam.

      Then perhaps the simply righteous will step up.
      • "perhaps the simply righteous will step up"

        Yeah, and "the righteous" could code, then there wouldn't be any exploits in the first place. 8-).

        -- Terry
      • Only 8k for bugs which go on the market for 15-100k each exploit? Surely you jest, no self righteous will go for such a scam.

        Then perhaps the simply righteous will step up.

        Whereas the truly righteous would have stepped up regardless of bounty. The simply righteous who would have stepped up before, but are now thinking "wait a second.. I can get money for this that isn't crook money? Right on!".. well. Them - 1:0 - humanity.

        • by w33t (978574)
          By your argument we shouldn't have to pay police officers or indeed any public servants. It sounds to me that you are saying that doing anything helpful for payment is doing it for the wrong reason.

          Well, if you need to eat, then you need to do something to get money. If there is no money in helping, then time you would spend helping will have to be spent making money instead - thus less help occurs.

          But if you can get payed for helping, then you are getting money for food AND helping at the same time. This e
          • I agree on most of your points, but I disagree on the premise..

            You say that by my argument, cops shouldn't get paid.. not at all. The comparison person for a cop would be somebody who actually works for a security firm. If you run it that way, then it becomes a matter of a paid security firm guy deciding against telling people about a flaw because they want to see -additiona- money first. It's like a cop who already gets paid to do his job saying "I found the rapist.. but I'll want $12,000 before I tell
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by jt2377 (933506)
      you're legally getting pay for the bug that you report. those black market seller and buyer if caught, can face jail time with your new jail mate bubba. you better hope you don't drop your soap during shower.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by WK1 (987981)
      I assume Verisign will actually pay you, while the mob might not. The mob may also turn you in in the future to save their own butts.

      Most criminals will actually buy their own stuff, even though they could just steal it. There are advantages to doing things the legal way. Crime pays, but only until you get caught.
    • by Duncan3 (10537)
      Glad someone brought this up already. It's very widely known that 50k is lowball for Vista holes.

      This is very good for security researchers tho, as we can't go sell to the Russians.

    • by Plutonite (999141)
      And how do you know this?

      A lot of people talk about the "black market" but very few have ever been involved. There is so much collaboration now between intelligence and ISPs that it is quite difficult to make big money without having your butt exposed. I personally have never tried, despite being very interested in this "field", but from what I hear much of the money comes from bots/adware as opposed to the hollywood-ish hack-a-bank for the mafia nonsense.

      Perhaps some of the more involved Anonymous Cowards
    • You could always sell it to both groups.
  • The ping of death (Score:1, Interesting)

    by compandsci (1045690)
    I remember that win 95 had a flaw that allowed anyone to DoS the computer over the network.
    This was hilarious to use at the LAN parties.

    It would be good fun if someone found a similar flaw with vista and wrote a Linux client for it :)
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:25PM (#17548450) Homepage Journal
    1. Put bounty of $8000 on bugs for Vista and IE7.

    2. Get friend to go work at MSFT.

    .

    4. PROFIT!
    • by Drawkcab (550036) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:34PM (#17548558)
      What would you be offering in that equation that would lead to profit for you rather than your friend? Finding exploits is non-trivial even with the code in front of you. And if the guy is working at Microsoft with full access to the source repository and a talent for spotting this sort of thing, they're already making at least $8000 a month anyway (which they don't have to split with you), and could probably be amply rewarded in their career if they made a habit of finding and fixing those exploits.
      • Quite right you are pointing out the missing step, here it is:

        3. ???
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by WillAffleckUW (858324)
          Quite right you are pointing out the missing step, here it is:

          3. ???


          Darn. Guess you get the US $8000 bounty. Now, let's see, that's about 2 Euros, right?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by dreddnott (555950)
        I think the way that you would want to do it, and the way that the grandparent poster probably intended, is to have your friend work at Microsoft, put in his OWN bugs and holes in the code, and tell you what the vulnerabilities are so that YOU to write exploit code for it and get the money.

        This would probably work until QA at Microsoft tracked down the singular source of most of the exploited vulnerabilities in the past few months.

        Considering the number and regularity of vulnerabilities in Microsoft softwar
      • by Atario (673917) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @04:24AM (#17553574) Homepage
        --------joke------------>

              O
             /|\      <--- you
              |
             / \

  • use insider knowledge of their own software to extract trillions of dollars from VeriSign!

    Come on, no-one actually thought people could use MS software for anything else did they?
  • Effective... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clifgriffin (676199) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:30PM (#17548508) Homepage
    While others may scoff at 8,000 dollars, people are spending hundreds of hours on projects that are bringing in much less if anything. This is a good way to give people healthy motivation and reveal vulnerabilities early...before they make headlines.

    So, not so stupid. Unlike most of the posts on this article so far.
    • $8000 is a substantial reward. However, though we're free to use any methods necessary, Darth wants them ALIVE. No disintegrations!
    • Re:Effective... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LoudMusic (199347) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:56PM (#17548864)

      While others may scoff at 8,000 dollars, people are spending hundreds of hours on projects that are bringing in much less if anything. This is a good way to give people healthy motivation and reveal vulnerabilities early...before they make headlines.

      So, not so stupid. Unlike most of the posts on this article so far.
      Except that not everyone, in fact very few, will eventually be given a reward while hundreds of thousands of individuals spend possibly hundreds of hours each searching for flaws.

      What it's really doing is getting those hundreds of thousands of individuals to do someone else's (Microsoft's) job for them for damn near free.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eskarel (565631)
        If hundreds of thousands of individuals spend hundreds of hours searching for bugs and only a very few find anything they can cash in, then Microsoft has already done it's job. Verisign just wants to make sure they have.
        • by LoudMusic (199347)

          If hundreds of thousands of individuals spend hundreds of hours searching for bugs and only a very few find anything they can cash in, then Microsoft has already done it's job. Verisign just wants to make sure they have.
          I guess that depends on how you define very few. For simplicity sake lets call it 1%. 1% of hundreds of thousands is still thousands

          How is thousands of flaws defined as a good job?
      • Except that not everyone, in fact very few, will eventually be given a reward while hundreds of thousands of individuals spend possibly hundreds of hours each searching for flaws.

        What it's really doing is getting those hundreds of thousands of individuals to do someone else's (Microsoft's) job for them for damn near free.

        If it takes hundreds of thousands of individuals at hundreds of hours each to find a bug in a product, I would say that Microsoft already did a damn fine job.

        • Erm...haven't refreshed in a while, Eskarel said the same thing a few hours prior. Direct all moderation at him :)
  • Moar money (Score:5, Funny)

    by zecg (521666) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:32PM (#17548528)
    "In addition to the $8,000 award for the flaw, iDefense will pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for working exploit code that exploits the submitted vulnerability."

    The company spokesman also added they'll double the bounty if the submitter already used the exploit to build a botnet and triple it if promises to use it to send a metric assload of e-mails with the subject "ha-ha" to everyone@microsoft.com.
    • by Aminion (896851)
      if promises to use it to send a metric assload of e-mails with the subject "ha-ha" to everyone@microsoft.com.
      How many rods to the hogshead is that?
  • Did microsoft have a change of management already???

    FTA:Microsoft typically frowns on the broker market for flaws in its products. "We do not believe that offering compensation for vulnerability information is the best way [researchers] can help protect customers," the company said during the last iDefense hacking challenge.

    "Microsoft believes that responsible disclosure, which involves making sure that an update is available from software vendors the same day the vulnerability is first broadly known, i
  • Not going to work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AngryDad (947591) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:35PM (#17548560) Journal
    iDefense ask you to provide all your background information, names, addressess, telephones, photocopies of IDs, etc. Most people who can find vulnerabilities will not be willing to sacrifice their privacy. When iDefence and alike will only ask for e-mail address to paypal funds to, I'd be first in line to talk to them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Zonnald (182951)
      Dear Sir,

      You have just won a new Boat!
      Please come down to the stadium to pick it up.

      Regards

      Det. Sgt. Smith

    • by Otter (3800)
      When iDefence and alike will only ask for e-mail address to paypal funds to, I'd be first in line to talk to them.

      Tell you what, Mr. Haxx0r -- you find a qualifying vulnerability, let me know, I'll give them my info and Paypal $7500K to you.

  • $8000 might sound like a lot until you compare it to the stories we see of vulnerabilities being sold for $50,000 on underground sites. Why should I sell my findings to them for a much smaller amount?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by w33t (978574) *

      Why should I sell my findings to them for a much smaller amount?

      If you can help someone and get payed 8 dollars, or hurt someone and get 50 dollars, what would you do?

      I think it's good that there is any compensation at all for white hats who would otherwise recieve no compensation at all for doing the least harmful thing. It would be nice if the rewards for help were on par with harm, but helping is reward in itself for some - and a bit extra reward helps the motivation.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Or sell it for $50,000 and then resell it again for $8000 + extra $4000 bonus. Not only will you be "helping", you'll also be screwing those adware vendors out of $50,000.
    • Even if MS was behind this it would make sense...

      Determened, motivated hackers will do better testing than internal testers and cost less too! For each $8k prize issued there'd probably be a few hundred people each spending many hours. Cheap, very cheap!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Onymous Coward (97719)
      Exactly.

      Perhaps eBay is the appropriate way to monetize on this kind of research.

      I'm joking. Quit agreeing.
    • by eneville (745111)

      $8000 might sound like a lot until you compare it to the stories we see of vulnerabilities being sold for $50,000 on underground sites. Why should I sell my findings to them for a much smaller amount?

      USD 8000 a lot? multiply that by the past exploits of a new code base such as win9x.. verisign shares much bump a lot....
  • $8000 for a bug report seems like a lot but I wonder if Microsoft's QA folks don't end up earning at least as much for any serious bugs they manage to uncover towards the end of development (salary:bugs ratio, that is). And at this point, it should take a very serious amount of effort to uncover a big vulnerability (well, hopefully), perhaps such that $8000 isn't even worth the time for some.

    By the way it would not be that great of an idea for MS employees to go around submitting bugs to VeriSign, particu
    • $8000 for a bug report seems like a lot but I wonder if Microsoft's QA folks don't end up earning at least as much for any serious bugs they manage to uncover towards the end of development (salary:bugs ratio, that is). And at this point, it should take a very serious amount of effort to uncover a big vulnerability (well, hopefully), perhaps such that $8000 isn't even worth the time for some.

      I think that there WILL be a very serious amount of effort devoted to finding the vulns, actually. A HUGE effort. I
  • by Arthur Dent '99 (226844) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:37PM (#17548594)

    Paying $8000 for each exploitable security flaw in Microsoft products is a quick way to put a company into bankruptcy! I noticed that the bounty only applies to the first six submissions, though, so VeriSign is only out $48000.

    Who else here thinks that VeriSign will then turn around and sell the winning entries to the black market for $50000 each? hehe

    • I think VeriSign will turn around and offer those six submittors jobs testing VeriSign products (or testing Windows after making a deal with Microsoft to sell them knowledge of vulnerabilities) or will contact Microsoft HR and ask how much the finder's fee is.
  • by andersen (10283) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:40PM (#17548636) Homepage
    Pointy Haired Boss: Our goal is to write bug-free software. I'll pay a ten dollar bonus for every bug you find and fix.
    Dilbert: Yahoo!
    Alice: We're rich
    Wally: Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes!!!
    Pointy Haired Boss: I hope this drives the right behavior.
    Wally: I'm gonna write me a new minivan this afternoon!

    http://www.ourlocalstyle.com/images/uploadImages/2 006/05/13/dilbert_bugFixMinivan.gif [ourlocalstyle.com]
  • Considering that over half the world will be using those soon, and knowing MS, let's hope that: a. Normal users are too stupid to figure out the bugs that destroy their comps, b.VeriSign is very, very, rich, and c. We remember this opportunity, because if you're reading Slashdot, you should be able to detect and report all flaws you come about (in Vista, 500,000,000 per second.) Don't be lazy!

    Actually, be lazy. I want to cash in.
  • Oh, please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lawrenlives (991376)
    I'd like to think not everyone involved in the "field" is a scumbag criminal in cahoots with the Russian mafia. Go ahead, prove me wrong! Despite the seemingly faceless nature of corporations, it's always human beings like you and me that get screwed in the end.
  • I think Microsoft should be the one who has to pay for the venerabilities. Maybe then they will have a little bit more of an incentive to produce secure code. The usual market force for this sort of thing (customers will drop the vendor for one who supplies the more secure solution) does not apply when you have a monopoly.
    • Ah, you don't know iDefense Business model, I see. They have paying customers which get the vulnerability descriptions and exploits first, while the contacted company tries to fix the flaw. After some time it is released to the public. So they directly earn money from those flaws and so have an interest to get flaws made available to them exclusively. They aren't the only ones doing business like that.

    • Ahem... [google.co.uk] Meh, I guess that works too.
  • by TastyWheat (302413) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:59PM (#17548896)
    And get paid for it??

    Hax0r1ng is getting better all the time!
    And they said we were just a bunch of internet hooligans.

    muahahhaha
  • Don't they know how much money you can make blasting Cialis advertisements on random people's computers? AdWare is much more lucrative. They need to step that bounty up. Remote execution exploits for Windows are like virtual gold.
  • Is it even legal to look for possible holes anymore?

    With all the legal issues and suits flying around, id be sort of afraid to admit i knew something.
    • If it is legal to do this, why not just legally auction it then? You'll get the best price and can set a minimum bid.

      If it is illegal, wouldn't verisign be in a bit of a bother now offering to purchase such a thing?
  • A: "I'm a bug hunter"

    B: "You exterminate insects, then?"

    A: "Sort of. It involves looking in lots of holes. That's all I can say right now. I'm late for a meeting with Jabba."

  • Pfft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:07PM (#17549796) Homepage Journal
    What a cheap publicity stunt.

    A 0day of this kind is worth at least twice that on the black market, mostly to the botnet creators who are the base of all the spam we get.
    • by danzona (779560)
      A 0day of this kind is worth at least twice that on the black market, mostly to the botnet creators who are the base of all the spam we get

      There have been a few posts of this nature in this discussion.

      You seem to be saying that if someone finds an exploit they have the following choices:
      (a) Turn in the exploit to the good guys for $10,000
      (b) Sell the exploit to the bad guys for $20,000 and know that they will be contributing to human misery

      I can't be the only person who would select the first op
  • ...to offset the winner's legal expenses. Do you get an additional prize if you are actually convicted?
  • ...both Apple and Cisco are suing VeriSign for the use of iDefense in the name of their labs. Apple claims that it dilutes their brand identity, and Cisco claims that they've been selling "defense" hardware with the "i" trademark for years!

  • ..like for instance as a bribe to the ad-ware industry. It could seize development of ad-ware for hours, if not days!
  • Why is a 3rd party doing this, instead of Microsoft? If they have such confidence in the security of their new software, I would think they would be open to such a thing. Seems like a win/win to me. Either they get big media attention for having secure software, or they get attention for having bugs, but they were fixed, and it looks like Microsoft was actually doing something to make that happen.
  • Attached is working exploits for 832 different new vulnerabilities in Microsoft Vista and IE7. Please send me my check for $8,320,000. Sincerely, Bob Smith Sr. Software Engineer bsmith@microsoft.com
  • URLs of the format:

    ftp://account:password@ftp.example.com
    no longer appear to work in IE7. Fargh!

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