Apple’s effort to court ‘ethical’ hackers draws poor reviews

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Apr 24, 2016
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Lack of communication, confusion about payments and long delays have security researchers fed up with Apple’s bug bounty program

Hoping to discover hidden weaknesses, Apple for five years now has invited hackers to break into its services and its iconic phones and laptops, offering up to $1 million to learn of its most serious security flaws.

Across the tech industry, similar “bug bounty” programs have become a prized tool in maintaining security — a way to find vulnerabilities and encourage hackers to report them rather than abuse them.
But many who are familiar with the program say Apple is slow to fix reported bugs and does not always pay hackers what they believe they’re owed. Ultimately, they say, Apple’s insular culture has hurt the program and created a blind spot on security.

“It’s a bug bounty program where the house always wins,” said Katie Moussouris, CEO and founder of Luta Security, which worked with the Defense Department to set up its first bug bounty program. She said Apple’s bad reputation in the security industry will lead to “less secure products for their customers and more cost down the line.”
 
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