Blackphone and Silent Circle offer $128 bounty for security flaws

Smartphone starts program on Bugcrowd

The makers of the secure Blackphone smartphone and co-owner Silent Circle have announced a bug bounty programme that will pay a "minimum" of $128 (£78) for every security flaw bug hunters disclose to the firms.

The Bugcrowd-managed program covers the PrivatOS software that runs Blackphone's Android fork plus all network and cloud services, most though not all website flaws and vulnerabilities detected on the Silent Circle suite of secure apps used by the handset.

"We have high expectations for security and privacy. In order to deliver on our expectations we must continually build a strong relationship with the security research community," said Blackphone and Silent Circle CSO, Dr Daniel Ford (Blackphone being a joint venture with handset maker Geeksphone).

The company didn't explain why it was launching a bug bounty programme now although it is probably an inevitable consequence of the phone having reached its launch phrase, which began sales to the public on 30 June.

Another influence could be a recent admission that testing outfit Bluebox Security had found a significant flaw in the Silent Circle apps that could have revealed the user's credentials. Although the flaw was privately-disclosed, the potential for security flaws to be found by less responsible parties is clear.

As a new platform whose selling point is that it is a way to own an Android handset without some of the security compromises that entails, it is bound to come under attack. Blackphone emphasised to Techworld after the above disclosure that it took reports of security flaws seriously and aimed to issue patches as a matter of priority.

"By launching our Bugcrowd bug bounty program, both companies are assuring their customers that their smartphone and communication software is subjected to the latest testing and assessment techniques, while providing a form of compensation for successful contributors," added Blackphone CEO, Toby Weir-Jones.

The news is another sign of how important bug bounties have become. A decade ago, such programs were frowned upon as controversial eccentricities. Today they are seen as commercial necessities, with Google, Mozilla, Yahoo, Twitter and Microsoft all running well-remunerated programs for a growing number of coders who hunt down security flaws for a living.

Whether $128 will be enough to flush out the more serious bugs is unclear. Many of the programmes run by large software firms offer anything from hundreds to tens of thousands, depending on the flaw's severity.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Silent CirclePersonal Techblackphonesecurity

More about CSOGoogleMicrosoftMozillaYahoo

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John E. Dunn

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts