Google Invests $1 Million in Research Grants To Secure Drive

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google Dedicates $1M In Research Grants To Keep Google Drive Safe.

Google wants to be sure that it finds bugs in its services before the bad guys do. Google today announced that it has allocated $1 million for grants to give out for security vulnerability research, even when the research doesn’t directly lead to the discovery of bugs. The company announced on Friday that it’s setting aside $1 million next year to fund independent security research into Drive, its cloud storage product.

Separately, the company will continue to offer up to $20,000 to anyone who finds and reports a qualifying issue. “The end result of these ongoing efforts is a product that — unlike your garden-variety hard drive — actually gets better over time,” Google Drive Product Manager Kevin Nelson wrote in a blog post. This initiative, which was first introduced at the beginning of 2015, is in addition to Google’s Vulnerability Reward Program for bug bounties, which has existed since 2010. Google has more than 500 security experts on its staff, but it also works with independent researchers to try to make sure it isn’t overlooking any vulnerabilities. “Keeping files safe in Google Drive is super important,” Kevin Nelson, product manager for Google Drive, wrote in the announcement. “That’s why Drive uses Google’s highly-secure, custom-built data centers to store your photos, videos, and other documents. The new pledge comes after Google in January launched an “experimental” Vulnerability Research Grants program through which researchers can earn awards before they ever submit a bug. The grant program, which doles out as little as $500 and as much as $3,133.70, helps distinguish Google in the world of security research, where bug bounties have become very popular.

The grants range from $500 to $3,133.70 and are awarded to “top performing, frequent vulnerability researchers” who will poke and prod at Google Drive to see if there are any flaws in its security. Jumping on the holiday season bandwagon, Google uses the near-certain arrival of countless new devices in the coming week to promote the value of Drive, pointing out that it “can help you easily move your files and keep them all safe going forward”.

Google Drive isn’t Google’s most popular service (240 million users as of September 2014, compared with more than 1 billion for YouTube), but as the company angles for more enterprise business for its cloud file-sharing service — and competes with the likes of Microsoft and Box — it wants to look enterprise grade. Researchers don’t have to identify specific vulnerabilities after receiving a grant – Google just wants to incentivize experts to better understand its architecture. Google has also had a separate “bug bounty” program since 2010, which rewards security researchers for identifying vulnerabilities and reporting them to Google. You can now narrow your search to a specific file type — like PDFs, text documents, spreadsheets, photos, presentations, or videos — right from the search box on iOS, Android, and the Web. Google knows that every cloud storage company is one security breach away from getting left in the dust, so this type of dedication isn’t surprising.

Many of the vulnerabilities were in developer and preview builds of programs, which meant that Google was able to fix them before those programs made it out into the wild. Google Drive itself has never been hacked on a large scale, although last year more than 5 million Gmail usernames and passwords were posted on a Russian web forum.

Google recommends that users employ two-step verification, which uses a code sent to a smartphone as an additional layer of security when logging on from a new device.

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