Standard issue "bug bounties," as they're called in the tech industry are now as commonplace as IP addresses. In a digital world where one skillful hacker can compromise the data of millions and cost the associated company in charge of that data billions, companies like Apple have long been heading this problem off at the pass by offering world-class hackers money upfront to point out flaws in operating systems and new devices that might not otherwise be caught by in-house designers.
The stakes are raised
Whereas in previous years a bounty of $200,000 represented the cap on what most hackers could hope to attain, and eligibility to try to hack an Apple device for this cash was by invitation only, this fall the stakes will be significantly raised and the bounty open to all comers. Any hacker successfully able to gain full control of an Apple device with no input or aid from the device's owner will be rewarded $1 million.
Even the discovery of smaller weaknesses could result in a paycheck of $500,000 for hackers who find them for Apple's pre-release correction.
All Apple platforms fair game
Ivan Krstić, Apple's head of security, unfurled this new offer to the public in Las Vegas this past Thursday at the Black Hat conference. Along with the additional funds on offer, Krstić has made it plain that all Apple platforms, from macOS to iCloud and everything in between, are now fair game for any hacker who can find flaws in them.
Many may remember that Apple was embarrassingly hacked by a teenager not too long ago. See the video below if you missed that the first time around. Programs like this most recent iOS Security Research Device Program have evolved out of that oversight, as well as the growing number of data breaches being daily faced by everyone in Big Tech.
While the iPhones made available to hackers in search of their fortune are not identical to those you purchase in the store, they offer enough room in Apple's famously closed electronic ecosystem to allow for useful probes by cybersecurity geniuses. Though $1 million may seem exorbitant at first glance, Apple has learned from a past history of being outbid in the data wars and has no intention of losing out on the cash or customer value of its own imperfections again.