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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why Hackers Have Incentive To Help The FBI

On Wednesday, it was reported that FBI has contracted Cellebrite, an Israeli software provider specializing in mobile phone forensics, for $15,000 to break into the iPhone.

 It is believed that Cellebrite knows of a flaw in the iPhone which could allow circumvention of iOS' built-in security layers.

Cellebrite could have worked with Apple on this flaw, but it chose to help FBI instead.

It doesn't take rocket science to understand why Cellebrite chose to take the other route.

The New York Times says that many security firms and hackers would love to work with Apple to further improve its products, but they don't because of a lack of incentive.

 There's little to no monetary incentive in helping the company with finding loopholes in its products. Apple -- unlike a number of Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, and recently added to the list, Uber -- doesn't maintain a Bug Bounty program.

 Nicole Perlroth and Katie Benner report for the Times: When hackers do find flaws in Apple's code, they have little incentive to turn them over to the company for fixing. [...] Apple, which has had relatively strong security over the years, has been open about how security is a never-ending cat-and-mouse game and how it is unwilling to engage in a financial arms race to pay for code exploits. 

The company has yet to give hackers anything more than a gold star. 

When hackers do turn over serious flaws in its products, they may see their name listed on the company's website -- but that is it. 

That is a far cry from what hackers can expect if they sell an Apple flaw on the thriving underground market where a growing number of companies and government agencies are willing to pay hackers handsomely.

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