Microsoft to pay first IE 11 Preview bug bounty to BlueHat security contest finalist
By Lucian Constantin
Microsoft has already received several vulnerability reports that qualify for monetary rewards as part of the company’s bug bounty program launched in June for the preview version of Internet Explorer 11.
The recipient of the first IE 11 bounty will be Ivan Fratric, a security researcher who earned second place and $50,000 last year in Microsoft’s BlueHat Prize contest for the development of defensive technologies. Fratric’s entry into the contest was a system called ROPGuard, which can detect and prevent return-oriented programming (ROP) attacks.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Fratric worked as a researcher at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing until October 2012, when he joined Google as an information security engineer.
“The security community has responded enthusiastically to our new bounty programs, submitting over a dozen issues for us to investigate in just the first two weeks since the programs opened,” said Katie Moussouris, a senior security strategist with Microsoft’s Security Response Center, Wednesday in a blog post. “I personally notified the very first bounty recipient via email today that his submission for the Internet Explorer 11 Preview Bug Bounty is confirmed and validated,” she said, adding that this means “he’s getting paid.”
Moussouris did not disclose the identity of the first bounty recipient in the blog post, but she confirmed Thursday that it’s Fratric in a Twitter message congratulating him.
Other researchers qualified for IE 11 bounties as well and they will be notified soon, Moussouris said in the blog post. Microsoft will create an acknowledgement page to list the researchers who wish to be publicly recognized, she said.
Microsoft announced the IE 11 Preview bug bounty program on June 19, after years of being reluctant to the idea of paying security researchers for reporting vulnerabilities in its products. In the past, the company preferred to encourage the development of active defenses like anti-exploitation techniques that can block entire classes of exploits. The BlueHat Prize contest in 2012, with a prize pool of over $250,000, was intended to promote the development of such defensive technology.
The IE 11 Preview bug bounty program, meanwhile, kicked off on June 26 and will run for 30 days, until July 26. The reported vulnerabilities can qualify for bounties between $500 and $11,000, or even more in particular cases, depending on the gravity of the vulnerability and the quality of the report.
“It’s not about offering the most money, but rather about putting attractive bounties out at times where there are few buyers (if any),” Moussouris said. “For our products, that tends to be during the preview (or beta) period.”
At the end of June, Fratric said on Twitter that he reported a potential memory corruption issue in IE 11 Preview to Microsoft, but it’s not clear if that’s the bug that won him the program’s first bounty.
In addition to the IE 11 Preview bounty program, Microsoft also launched two other programs, one that will reward researchers for finding novel exploitation techniques to circumvent Windows 8.1’s exploit mitigation defenses and the other for developing new ways to block known exploitation techniques.