United Airlines bug bounty program offers airline miles instead of cash reward

By Shawn Knight
May 15, 2015
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    Interested in taking a cross-country trip this summer but can’t afford the airline ticket? Perhaps your hacking skills can help.

    United Airlines has launched a bug bounty program in which it’ll pay users to seek out, find and report security issues instead of going public with them. That sounds great, right? The only issue is that United aims to reward security researchers just as it does its regular customers: with airline miles. You know, the kind of miles that are often the butt of jokes about blackout dates and destination restrictions.

    The program comes just a few weeks after security researcher Chris Roberts found himself in a whole heap of trouble after tweeting about an apparent plane network vulnerability during a recent flight. When his flight touched down, FBI agents were waiting for him.

    As Forbes notes, he was questioned for four hours and had all of his electronics – iPad, MacBook Pro, three hard drives, a flash drive and some USB sticks – seized. He reportedly got to keep his phone but considering all of the other devices were encrypted, they may not have been of much use to authorities.

    Besides the obvious fact that United is offering to pay in miles instead of cash like everyone else, United’s bounty program doesn’t invite users to seek out vulnerabilities within its aircraft. Instead, the airline wants help in finding issues as it relates to their website and apps.

    Image via Getty

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