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Microsoft offers up to $100,000 to identity bug finders

Want to earn $100,000? You could win as much as that if you manage to uncover a serious vulnerability in Microsoft’s various identity services.

And you could be helping millions of people around the world better secure themselves both at home and in the workplace.

Microsoft has announced that white hat hackers can be rewarded with prizes ranging from $500 all the way up to $100,000 if they can find previously unreported flaws that could, for instance, allow an attacker to hijack a Microsoft Account or Azure Active Directory Account or compromise the Microsoft Authenticator app for Android or iOS.

In a webpage describing the new Microsoft Identity Bounty Program, the company details some of the criteria that need to be fulfilled for a bounty to be paid out.

Websites that are covered by the bug bounty program include login.windows.net, login.microsoftonline.com, login.live.com, account.live.com, account.windowsazure.com, account.activedirectory.windowsazure.com, credential.activedirectory.windowsazure.com,
portal.office.com, and passwordreset.microsoftonline.com.

But Microsoft explains that in order for researchers’ bug submissions to be in with the best chance of collecting a high financial reward, it will need to be of “high quality” and result in a significant impact on security.

That means that to maximise their chances, bug hunters should provide as much detail as possible about what the issue is, and concise instructions on how exploitation can be reproduced.

Microsoft also explains that it typically rewards smaller amounts for vulnerabilities that require a significant amount of user interaction.

Interestingly, Microsoft is also offering financial rewards for bounty hunters who find security holes in implementations of the OpenID standard.

The reason for offering the bounties, of course, is that Microsoft really wants security researchers to disclose vulnerabilities privately, giving the company time to resolve the issue before any technical details are published.

Vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s identity services could be exploited by online criminals and even state-sponsored hackers, and the most serious security holes are potentially much more valuable to these groups than $100,000.

With many millions of users worldwide relying upon Microsoft’s services it’s clearly paramount that their systems are as secure as possible, so offering a bug bounty specifically focusing on identity services makes a lot of sense.

Microsoft already offers a number of other bounty programs for the purpose of eradicating bugs in its other products and services.

Recently, for instance, the company has announced bounty programs that offer up to $250,000 for Spectre-class (speculative execution side channel) vulnerabilities, and critical vulnerabilities in Hyper-V.

About the author

Graham CLULEY

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.

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