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Google launches new bug bounty platform

Vulnerability hunters will be able to improve their skills through the newly launched Bug Hunter University

Google has announced the launch of a new bug bounty platform that will make it easier for vulnerability hunters to submit issues.

Available under bughunters.google.com, the platform brings together all of the tech giant’s vulnerability reward programmes (VRP) – Google, Android, Abuse, Chrome, and Play – with hunters able to submit issues using a single intake form.

Moreover, the new platform will provide more opportunities for interaction with other hunters through gamification, including awards and badges for certain bug-reporting achievements. 

Google has also improved its VRP leaderboards, which will now be “more functional and aesthetically pleasing”, as well as show the best hunters per country, making it easier to use the results to boost a CV when applying for a job in tech.

The new platform also provides greater emphasis on research and education, making it easier for hunters to publish their bug reports in order to share their knowledge. Hunters will also be able to improve their skills through the newly-launched Bug Hunter University, which includes courses on how to submit a successful vulnerability report.

Research papers on the security of open source will be eligible for a reward, just like open source software patch submissions, while hunters improving security in open source programmes will be eligible to apply for a grant to better secure their own projects.

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Commenting on the announcement, Google VRP technical programme manager, Jan Keller, said that when Google launched its “very first VRP” over a decade ago, no one knew “how many valid vulnerabilities – if any – would be submitted on the first day”.

“Everyone on the team put in their estimate, with predictions ranging from zero to 20. In the end, we actually received more than 25 reports, taking all of us by surprise,” he added.

Three years later, the programme was expanded to include open source as well as Google Android and Apache.

“Since its inception, the VRP programme has not only grown significantly in terms of report volume, but the team of security engineers behind it has also expanded – including almost 20 bug hunters who reported vulnerabilities to us and ended up joining the Google VRP team. That is why we are thrilled to bring you this new platform, continue to grow our community of bug hunters and support the skill development of up-and-coming vulnerability researchers,” said Keller.

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