Facebook to pay ethical hackers $40,000 for reporting a single account-takeover bug

Amid mounting criticism from regulators and users over its data protection practices, Facebook is extending an olive branch to the ethical hacker community, increasing its bug bounty rewards while decreasing the technical overhead. White hats can earn as much as $40,000 for a single account-takeover bug.

The announcement was made on the social network’s Bug Bounty page, where Facebook encourages white hat hackers to poke at the platform in every way imaginable to find any undiscovered flaws before bad actors do so. But despite boasting a bug bounty program for over 7 years now, Facebook has been plagued by leaks and attacks. In an effort to thwart these business-wrecking occurrences, the company is now planning to give ethical hackers more incentive to find holes in its platform. From the official announcement:

Today, to encourage security researchers to work on finding high impact issues, we are increasing the average payout for account takeover bugs. Our goal is to ensure that these vulnerabilities such as the one disclosed in September are reported to us in the most responsible and timely manner.

The researchers who find vulnerabilities that can lead to a full account takeover, including access tokens leakage or the ability to access users’ valid sessions, will be rewarded an average bounty of:

* $40,000 if user interaction is not required at all, or

* $25,000 if minimum user interaction is required

The program extends to other services owned by the web giant, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus. Hackers will not be required to present a full exploit chain if the process requires bypassing the Linkshism mechanism, described here. Facebook wants hackers to be able to share their proof-of-concept without having to also bypass additional security layers.

“By increasing the award for account takeover vulnerabilities and decreasing the technical overhead necessary to be eligible for bug bounty, we hope to encourage an even larger number of high quality submissions from our existing and new white hat researchers to help us secure over 2 billion users,” Facebook said.

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