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There’s a $1.5m bounty to hack the iPhone

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David Cornish
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That iPhone you've got stuffed in your jean pocket has a price on its head. A massive one. 

Zerodium, a company specialising in cybersecurity and research into cyber vulnerability, is offering hackers and bug researchers $1.5 million (£1.1 million) if they can find a way to jailbreak an iPhone remotely. 

The security company is looking for a series of original and previously unreported "zero-day exploits" - security flaws and problems that its creators weren't previously aware of.

If a researcher or hacker can provide evidence of an unknown exploit, Zerodium will "pay the highest rewards on the market", dishing out anything from $40,000 for something called a 'remote code execute' on Microsoft Office Word (allowing a hacker access to the software remotely) to the grand $1.5 million prize for a remote jailbreak of Apple's iOS 10. This would allow someone to remotely take over your phone, installing malicious software and apps that bypass Apple's existing security features. 

Zerodium's handsome bounty comes just weeks after Apple announced its own bug bounty offer, paying up to $200,000 in rewards for those who can hack its systems. Bug bounty programmes such as this allows large tech companies to attract the best and brightest minds among the programming and hacking community to flag up errors and issues they may have missed. Zerodium's move sees them trump Apple's own offering, allowing them to buy hacks and selling them on to interested parties for an even bigger profit.

"We want to attract more suppliers as we can afford to buy multiple iOS exploit chains," Zerodium founder Chaouki Bekrar told Motherboard. "We are backed by big buyers and customers, our zero-day acquisition budget is a kind of unlimited."

It presents hackers with something of a moral quandary: do you go to the source of the problem, telling Apple who'll fix their systems, protect their users and pay you $200,000, or do you go for the big money and hand the exploit over to a party who might disclose it to other interested parties. The FBI admitted to paying $1.3 million to hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters after a lengthy dispute with Apple - who refused to help investigators break into the phone. 

It costs a lot of time and effort to put research into carrying out something as complicated as a remote 'jailbreak' - but with $1.5 million up for grabs, you can bet the race is on to crack iOS 10.

[Via: Motherboard]

(Image: iStock)

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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