In November, the firm Zerodium announced the winner for a contest they had put out about a year ago, in which they offered $1Million for a new type of hack that could break into any iPhone with the latest Apple software. This company over the years has paid anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 to get hacks into Android or Windows phones, Adobe PDF readers, and Flash Player. This company basically pays hackers for their codes, and then sells these codes to the company’s subscribers.
The company has even announced that the government could pay for these hacks as well. Whether they would like to prevent getting hacked or quietly spy on the public through these phones, is there choice just for $500,000.
This is causing a major security crisis. Everyday, hackers are making new codes and are selling “zero days” on the market, which makes phones and other gadgets less safe to use. The CEO of Zerodium however, has stated that his company is not doing this in an effort to make the world less safe or private. Instead his vision is to help law enforcement to investigate more efficiently. He then stated, “The recent story between the FBI and Apple shows the most interesting aspect of the zero-day business, which is the need for government agencies to get access to unpatched flaws to properly conduct investigations and save lives.”
Companies have taken an interesting approach to fixing their devices and making them safer for the user. They offer “bug bounties” which are rewards to users that can report bugs in the devices. Companies such as Google and Android have taken this approach already. Other companies reward those who have spotted problems or cooperate to fix these issues, with frequent flyer miles, money, and even loyalty reward programs.
In class we discussed the dangers of hacking and the amount of money is lost due to hackers every year. We discussed the importance of the Apple case with the FBI and how we want to feel safe using the devices we buy from these companies, but are vulnerable to hackers given that it is has become very easy for hackers to find their way into these devices. My question for you is, do you think what this company Zerodium is doing, is ethical?
Pagliery, Jose. “Meet Zerodium, the company that pays $1 millions for Apple hacks.” CNN Money. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.