zerodium bounty

While Apple might be trying to attract high profile hackers to help secure iOS through its bug bounty program, Zerodium appears to be once again trying to poach the talent of jailbreaking iOS for an even larger bounty.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because they’ve been doing this kind of thing for years. Zerodium is the kind of company that buys hacking talent to find 0day exploits in various operating systems, which it can then sell off to other higher-paying entities.

Last year, the firm bought a jailbreak for iOS 9 for $1M, but now it’s looking to pay out an even higher reward of $1.5M for yet another jailbreak, only this time around, it’s for iOS 10.

According to Zerodium CEO Chaouki Bekrar, the increase in the bounty reward amount is tantamount to the increase in security Apple has imposed on its mobile operating system. For example, jailbreak preventions like Rootless and KPP (kernel patch protection) are there to make hacking harder.

There are also open opportunities for hackers to sell working exploits that grant a user remote code execution access to Android 6.x & 7.x, Blackberry OS 10, Windows 10 mobile, and various other operating systems for computers. Different operating system exploits offer varying rewards.

All an eligible hacker needs to do to collect the bounty is show a proof of concept that their exploits work, and then share the exploits with Zerodium, all while providing the firm with full rights to them. Afterwards, Zerodium will pay up its promised funds within a week.

Although Zerodium doesn’t disclose who the jailbreaks are sold to, it’s believed that the jailbreaks get sold to large corporations or governments who have the money to pony up for security holes in consumer electronics. For example, governments may use these tools to get into encrypted devices for their own needs.

For what it’s worth, these kinds of large bounties haven’t stopped jailbreak teams like Pangu and TaiG from releasing jailbreaks to the public in the past, so you shouldn’t expect that this will prevent progress on a future iOS 10 jailbreak for everyone.

The people and groups who sell their exploits to bounty programs like these typically have no intention of releasing their jailbreak to the public in the first place, as they understand the great value behind them.