Microsoft's 'Dead or Alive' Bounty Expansion Aims to Eliminate Exploits
The software giant will now pay $100,000 for previously unreported techniques that bypass Windows defenses, even those already being used in the wild.Microsoft expanded its bounty program on Nov. 4 to reward, not just researchers, but anyone who discovers a new technique for bypassing the security of the Windows operating system. The change means that the company will pay out $100,000, its top award, to individuals who discover a previously unreported method of evading Windows' defenses, even if the technique is being used in an ongoing attack. In the original bounty program, announced less than five months ago, only a person who—through their own research—discovered a way to bypass the shield of Windows defenses could claim the prize. "We are going from accepting entries from only a handful of individuals capable of inventing new mitigation bypass techniques on their own, to potentially thousands of individuals or organizations who find attacks in the wild," Katie Moussouris, senior security strategist lead for Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, stated in a blog post on the new program. The revised bounty program aims to take all exploits for Windows' security off the market. Microsoft went so far as to call it a "Dead or Alive" program. The program is not about finding bugs, but finding new types of attacks, Moussouris said.
"Learning about 'ways around the shield,' or new mitigation bypass techniques, is much more valuable than learning about individual bugs because insight into exploit techniques can help us defend against entire classes of attack as opposed to a single bug--hence, we are willing to pay $100,000 for these rare new techniques," she said.