As promised by Apple in August this year, the company today finally opened its bug bounty program to all security researchers, offering monetary rewards to anyone for reporting vulnerabilities in the iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, iPadOS, and iCloud to the company.
Since its launch three years ago, Apple’s bug bounty program was open only for selected security researchers based on invitation and was only rewarded for reporting vulnerabilities in the iOS mobile operating system.
However, speaking at a hacking conference in August this year, Ivan Krstić, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture at Apple, announced the company’s upcoming extended bug bounty program which included three main highlights:
- an enormous increase in the maximum reward from $200,000 to $1.5 million,
- accepting bug reports for all of its operating systems and latest hardware,
- opening the program for all researchers.
Now starting from today, all security researchers and hackers are eligible to receive a cash payout for finding and responsibly disclosing a valid security vulnerability in the “latest publicly available versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS with a standard configuration,” as was first announced by Krstić on Twitter.
Even after submitting a valid security bug, researchers need to follow some basic eligibility rules for receiving rewards, which includes reporting details directly to the Apple security team without revealing anything to the public until the company releases a patch and providing a clear report with a working exploit.
As shown in the bug bounty payout chart above, $1 million will be awarded only to those who submit a severe deadly zero-clickable kernel code execution exploit that could enable complete, persistent control of a targeted device.
What’s more? On top of its maximum reward of $1 million, Apple will also offer a 50% bonus to those who find and report vulnerabilities in its pre-release software (beta version) before its public release—bringing its maximum reward to $1.5 million.
Besides this, Apple will now also pay an additional 50% bonus on the eligible reward amount for reporting a ‘regression’ vulnerability that the company patched in previous versions of its software, but reintroduced ‘mistakenly’ in a developer beta or public beta release.
Apple Security Bounty program aims to also encourage hackers who either publicly disclose security vulnerabilities they discovered in Apple products or sell it to private vendors like Zerodium, Cellebrite, and Grayshift, who deal in zero-day exploits.