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By Clare O’Gara
Thu | Aug 6, 2020 | 8:17 AM PDT

When it comes to addressing cybersecurity, Microsoft's Bug Bounty program is putting its money where its mouth is.

Microsoft paid out $13.7 million in the most recent year. That's a massive number on its own, but it's even more startling compared to what Microsoft has rewarded security researchers in the past.

For the previous year, Microsoft awarded $4.4 million for bug bounties. That price tag has tripled in only 12 months.

According to a recent blogpost from Microsoft, the sharp uptick reflects the company's increasing commitment to security research:

"We're constantly evaluating the threat landscape to evolve our programs and listening to feedback from researchers to help make it easier to share their research. This year, we launched six new bounty programs and two new research grants, attracting over 1,000 eligible reports from over 300 researchers across 6 continents."

But Microsoft also doesn't take all the credit for the rise:

"In addition to the new bounty programs, COVID-19 social distancing appears to have had an impact on security researcher activity; across all 15 of our bounty programs we saw strong researcher engagement and higher report volume during the first several months of the pandemic."

With more time at home, security researchers can dedicate themselves to searching for bugs and vulnerabilities, which could earn them a nice payout through any of these new and updated bounty programs:

  • NEW: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Bounty Program, launched July 2019
  • NEW: Azure Security Lab, launched August 2019
  • NEW: Microsoft Edge on Chromium Bounty Program, launched August 2019
  • NEW: Election Guard Bounty Program, launched October 2019
  • Identity Bounty Program, updated October 2019
  • NEW: Xbox Bounty Program, launched January 2020
  • NEW: Azure Sphere Security Research Challenge, launched May 2020
  • Windows Insider Preview Bounty Program, updated July 2020

According to the data, 327 researchers received awards during the last 12 months, with the largest payout totaling $200,000.

Could one of them be yours in the coming year?