Google Pays Record Bounty for Chrome Bug

Google patched 16 vulnerabilities in Chrome on Thursday, paying one researcher a record $3,133 for reporting a single bug. The flaws fixed in Chrome 8.0.552.334 were in several components, including the browser's support for extensions, its built-in PDF viewer, and CSS (cascade style sheet) processing.

Thirteen of the bugs were labeled as "high" threats, Google's second-most-serious rating, and two were pegged "medium." Only one was tagged as "critical."

As it always does, Google locked its bug tracking database to bar outsiders from reading the technical details of the just-patched vulnerabilities. The company usually opens access to a flaw later -- sometimes within weeks, often only after months -- to give users time to update before the information goes public.

Researcher Sergey Glazunov was credited with reporting the single critical vulnerability, described by Google as a "stale pointer in speech handling." A "stale pointer" is a bug in an application's memory allocation code.

Glazunov was the first researcher to take home Google's biggest bounty.

"We're delighted to offer our first 'elite' $3133.7 Chromium Security Reward to Sergey Glazunov," said Jason Kersey, a Chrome program manager, in a post to Chrome release blog .

Last July, Google raised its top dollar payout from $1,337 to $3,133, making the move less than a week after rival Mozilla boosted Firefox bug bounties to $3,000.

Wednesday was also the first time that Google has classified a bug as critical since the debut of the higher bounty; only critical vulnerabilities are eligible for the $3,133 reward.

Altogether, Google paid Glazunov $7,470 for reporting five of the 16 flaws. Google cut checks totaling more than $14,000 to Glazunov and others for their work.

Yesterday's patch collection was the third since Google updated the stable edition of Chrome to version 8 in early December.

According to the newest statistics from Internet metrics company Net Applications, Chrome accounted for a record 10% usage share last month.

Chrome 8 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Google's Web site. Users already running the browser will be updated automatically.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

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