Monday, August 15, 2016

Apple's Bug Bounty Program

While many tech companies have established the so-called “bug bounty” as an industry standard, it seems strange that a company like Apple, a true technology giant always years ahead of its time, was so late to the table in this regard. While many large tech companies have offered rewards to users who identified and/or offered fixes to flaws in their products for years, Apple only began to offer the bug bounties on the heels of the incident in San Bernardino, in which the FBI requested Apple create a back-door into the iPhone so that they might be able to access the iPhone of a mass shooter. The controversy over this event made major waves, with Apple refusing to comply with what they saw as a huge threat to the privacy of citizens. On the other hand, they were dealing with a unique incident involving the investigation of a terror attack, which led some to condemn Apple for refusing to assist the FBI. In any case, in the wake of this tragedy, Apple felt compelled to begin a bug bounty program, rewarding those who identified and resolved issues in Apple systems.

One of the huge advantages of the bug bounty system for the company is that it saves them the time and effort of locating bugs themselves. With the inordinate task of locating every bug in every system released, they would be entirely overwhelmed. Instead, the cost of identifying these issues is drastically reduced and, if the bugs are fixed, even more time is saved. It really seems like an easy decision for any company, despite the long time that it took Apple to get with the program. Now that they are on board with the whole bug bounty concept, I am sure they will find it very beneficial and it will help them to focus much more attention on fixes rather than finding the problems.

On the other hand, it is also good for the consumers, as they can actually play a role in solving a problem that they themselves have experienced, as well as many others. When such an act is incentivized monetarily it tends to become more popular, but this is hardly a bad thing. It will also generate more interest in learning how to fix bugs that users might experience, and make users more self-reliant and better capable of handling technological issues they might experience in other areas.

With all of the advantages a bug bounty system creates, it is hard to argue with its implementation. And while it certainly took Apple a very long time to participate in this rather common practice, the fact that they do now is a great sign, and, hopefully, it will prove to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both Apple and Apple users.

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