Apple launches bug bounty program to search for software security gaps

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Apple has long been the holdout among technology companies offering hackers rewards for finding and reporting software vulnerabilities, but the company recently decided to change course. Apple on Thursday announced its bug bounty program, offering bounties from between $25,000 to $200,000 for hackers to find and inform the company of flaws, reports The New York Times.

Apple announced its bug bounty program at the annual Black Hat conference, a meeting of computer security experts. The tech giant's list of bounties includes $25,000 for finding ways to access customers' data, $50,000 for bugs that enable hackers to access iCloud data and $200,000 to find gaps in firmware, according to the report.

Google launched its Android Security Rewards bug bounty program in June 2016, offering hackers up to $38,000 per report on software vulnerabilities. In the program's first year, Android paid more than $550,000 to 82 individuals, including $75,750 to its top researcher.

Most tech companies in Silicon Valley have offered bug bounties for the past six years, reports NYT. Facebook launched its program in 2011 and Microsoft launched one in 2012, reports TechWorm.

Apple's decision to abstain from such a program drew heightened criticism earlier this year when the FBI was trying to unlock an iPhone used by a gunman in the San Bernardino shootings and ended up paying more than $1 million to professional hackers to do so.

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