2019 was a record year for the Google Vulnerability Reward Program as payouts to researchers amounted to a whopping $6.5 million — almost double the $3.4 million that was paid out in 2018.

Google confirmed the spend in a dedicated Security Blog post that highlighted the increase for the previous 12 months. As for the biggest individual payout? That was to Guany Gong from Alpha Labs, after they discovered a potential major exploit on the Google Pixel 3 and were awarded just over $201,000.

2019 has been another record-breaking year for us, thanks to our researchers! We paid out over $6.5 million in rewards, doubling what we’ve ever paid in a single year. At the same time our researchers decided to donate an all-time-high of $500,000 to charity this year. That’s 5x the amount we have ever previously donated in a single year. Thanks so much for your hard work and generous giving!

If you didn’t already know, the Vulnerability Reward Program has been around since 2010 and has now grown to cover a wide variety of Google products and services including Chrome and Android.

The $6.5 million was split into varying amounts paid to 461 researchers, with just over half a million dollars going to charitable causes throughout 2019 — a nice touch and was a five-fold increase in donations over the previous year.

As we see more connected devices and services, that figure is expected to increase further still in 2020 and beyond, as it would be very difficult for Google to keep on top of every single vulnerability. Paying out researchers that find issues is, therefore, quite cost-effective.

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