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A bug bounty or bug bounty program is IT jargon for a reward or bounty program given for finding and reporting a bug in a particular software product. Many IT companies offer bug bounties to drive product improvement and get more interaction from end users or clients. Companies that operate bug bounty programs may get hundreds of bug reports, including security bugs and security vulnerabilities, and many who report those bugs stand to receive awards.
In 2012, Ars Technica reported that after tech giant Google launched bug bounty programs for its Chrome operating system (OS) and other applications, the company paid out more than $700,000 in over 700 different reward payments to those reporting bugs. The Mozilla Foundation and other big tech makers have also run bug bounty programs. Bug bounties give those who find bugs - including ethical hackers - incentives against selling that information on the black market. However, there is some debate about the effectiveness of these programs and the most appropriate way to compensate those who help IT companies develop their products. Some companies limit their bug bounty programs by making them by invitation only, rather than leaving them open to the public.
A bug bounty program may also be referred to as a vulnerability reward program.