Google has kicked off its bug bounty for Android, offering security researchers as much as $38,000 — and possibly more — for finding flaws in the world’s most widely used mobile OS.
The new Android Security Rewards program joins Google’s stable of bug bounties that reward researchers for disclosing flaws to it first.
The program is relatively narrow since it only applies to bugs in the latest version of Android running on Nexus devices available on the Google Play US store, which currently include the Nexus 6 phone and Nexus 9 tablet on Android 5.0/Lollipop. Bugs in KitKat and earlier versions that account for the majority of Android devices in use are out of scope, while the target version of Android will change once Android M is released in full, and again once the next Nexus devices are released.
Researchers could earn up to $38,000 for reporting a bug, patch and exploit to Google, depending on the severity of the vulnerability and the quality of the report. In other words, the less work Google has to do to validate and fix the bug, the more the researcher gets, with base rewards ranging from public acknowledgement to $8,000.
Bug finders can get an additional $10,000 to $30,000 for developing “functional exploits” that bypass Android anti-exploitation features to compromise the kernel or TrustZone OS modules. The highest rewards go to remote exploits, though Google could pay higher rewards “for unusually clever or severe vulnerabilities”.
While the program only applies to Nexus devices, Google intends to also address the larger Android hardware ecosystem by offering higher rewards for researchers who develop an Android compatibility (CTS) test that detects the bug. For example, researchers who find a bug, and develop a CTS test and a patch for it will get four-times the amount of the original bug’s value.
The Android team is also holding itself to the standards set by Google’s elite team of hackers in Project Zero, which publishes proof of concept exploit code if a bug isn’t patched within 90 days of it providing a report.
The Android bug bounty joins those for Chrome and other online Google products, which earned researchers $1.5 million in rewards last year.
This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.