Targeted Incentive Program will pay anywhere from $25,000 to $200,000 to researchers who are first to demonstrate exploitable vulnerabilities.

Trend Micro, the operator of the Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) and Pwn2Own bug bounty programs, wants researchers to pay more attention to finding bugs in widely used server-side .

The security vendor Tuesday announced a new “Targeted Incentive Program” through which it is offering monetary rewards of up to $200,000 to researchers who are the first to report in specific targeted products within a certain time frame.

The goal is to try and acquire a greater number of critical server flaws across a broader range of products than has been possible with its other programs, says Dustin Childs, communications manager for Trend Micro’s ZDI team. “With Pwn2Own, we’re able to acquire specific types of bugs through the various categories of the contest. This is great, but the contest is only a couple of days,” Childs says.

The Targeted Incentive Program gives researchers more time to look for specific types of bugs in targeted products, he notes. “We’re looking to get researchers focused on specific targets with highly impactful bugs,” Childs says.

Starting Aug. 1, Trend Micro will offer bounties ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 for bugs reported in a total of six server products. Five of them are open source technologies: Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, NGINX, and Apache HTTP Server, all on Ubuntu Server 18.04 x64. The sixth is Microsoft IIS on Windows Server 2016 x64.

Trend Micro will award $25,000 to the first security researcher who can demonstrate a working exploit against a previously unknown flaw in either Joomla or Drupal on or before Sept. 30. To qualify for the award, the vulnerability will need to be what the vendor describes as a true zero-day flaw affecting the source code of the targeted software. Flaws in Joomla or Drupal plug-ins and add-on components do not qualify.

The exploit itself should modify the standard execution path of the program or process and allow for execution of arbitrary code. The exploit must also defeat whatever mitigations might on the targeted platform, such as sandboxing, address space layout randomization (ASLR), and Execution Prevention (DEP).

Similarly, the first researcher who submits a fully functioning exploit demonstrating remote code execution against WordPress before Oct. 31 will qualify for $35,000 under Trend Micro’s new program.

The security vendor has reserved its highest bounties for bugs in Microsoft’s IIS, NGINX, and Apache HTTP Server. The first security researcher to disclose a working exploit against any of these technologies will be eligible for a $200,000 monetary award so long as the disclosures are made within the qualifying period. Trend Micro’s deadline for submitting a flaw in NGINX is at the  of end of November; for Apache HTTPS Server flaws, end of December; and for Microsoft IIS, Jan. 31, 2019.

The monetary awards available through the new program are substantially higher than what is generally available through Trend Micro’s standard ZDI, Childs says. However, he declined to discuss the specifics on pricing.

Under the Targeted Incentive Program, once the award for a particular target has been claimed, the software will be removed from the target list and replaced with a new one. Researchers will still be able to claim bounties on subsequent submissions, but those bounties will only be available through Trend Micro’s standard bug-reporting process.

For the moment, at least, Trend Micro has earmarked more than $1 million on additional targets, some of which will fetch bounties of up to $250,000. The total award amount available under the program could increase in the future.

“We wanted to start this initiative by focusing on some of the most popular open source server-side products used by our customers and community,” Childs notes. Future targets will be chosen with this in mind as well, he says.

“We want to guide research to different targets, so having new categories keeps researchers looking at different areas,” Childs adds.

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Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year … View Full Bio

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