Sure, security is a hot topic these days. How hot? For Microsoft, security is worth a cool $250,000, since it is awarding that amount to researchers who can come up with defensive security technologies that tackle entire classes of exploits. This “BlueHat Prize” is the biggest to date, outstripping competitors like Google, which has paid out $110,000 this year for Chrome vulnerability reports.
“We want to make it more costly and difficult for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities,” said Katie Moussouris, a senior security strategist lead at Microsoft, at a news conference. Her team decided not to go with bug bounties but instead encourage deeper thinking on a macroscopic level. The contest will run through April 1 next year and the winners will be announced at the Black Hat security conference next summer.
Microsoft’s move is interesting since bug bounty programs like the ones its competitors run aren’t necessary in the world of Internet Explorer. Many would disagree, and that debate gets at the heart of the continuing browser wars: Who can claim the most secure Web access? This hot topic can only get hotter.