Microsoft Issues Massive Reward to Security Expert

Dennis Faas's picture

If you've got the skills, it can certainly pay to be a security researcher. One expert recently earned more than $100,000 after discovering a major security flaw in Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system.

The award is part of Microsoft's "bug bounty" program, which the Redmond, Washington-based firm unveiled earlier this year.

Google and Mozilla also employ similar programs, which allow major tech firms to save money by effectively outsourcing their security tasks to independent experts.

"Mitigation Bypass Bounty" Includes $100,000 Prize

The $100,000 award is part of Microsoft's largest bug bounty program, which is known as the Mitigation Bypass Bounty. Only researchers who can present original exploitation techniques targeting the latest version of the Windows operating system can claim the massive prize.

When Microsoft announced the Mitigation Bypass Bounty program this past summer, the expectation was that few researchers would ever win the $100,000. And yet, it took just four months for someone to nab the cash.

The lucky winner is James Forshaw, a security researcher at London, England-based consulting firm Context Information Security.

According to Reuters, Forshaw was able to identify a new exploitation technique affecting Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system. (Source:

For its part, Microsoft says it will be able to use the knowledge divulged by Forshaw to drastically improve Windows 8.1's security and prevent a dangerous new class of attacks.

UK-based Researcher Becoming a Bug Bounty Master

Forshaw earned a whopping $100,000 for sharing his research about the exploitation technique, but didn't stop there -- Microsoft reportedly awarded him an additional $9,400 for finding several security bugs in a release preview of Internet Explorer 11, Microsoft's popular web browser.

It's no surprise, then, that Forshaw spoke highly of Microsoft's bug bounty program.

"Microsoft's Mitigation Bypass Bounty is very important to help shift the focus of bounty programs from offence to defence," Forshaw said. "It incentivises researchers like me to commit time and effort to security in depth". (Source:

These are by no means the first bug bounties Forshaw has tackled. Earlier this year he was awarded a substantial bounty from major tech firm Hewlett-Packard (HP) after identifying a serious security flaw in Oracle's Java software.

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