Teenage hacker makes $1m from bug bounty rewards

Bug bounty

A 19-year old bounty hacker is the first person known to have generated $1 million from hacking into computer systems and software lawfully.

Argentinian hacker Santiago Lopez started trying to uncover bugs and vulnerabilities four years ago using bounty programme HackerOne.

He has now reported more than 1,600 security flaws in software including those present on Twitter and Verizon. He's also contributed to government hacking programmes, helping the public sector protect their systems from malicious actors, all while pocketing reward money for his efforts.

"I am incredibly proud to see that my work is recognized and valued," Lopez said. "To me, this achievement represents that companies and the people that trust them are becoming more secure than they were before, and that is incredible.

"This is what motivates me to continue to push myself and inspires me to get my hacking to the next level."

He explained that he's taught himself how to uncover bugs by watching videos and reading articles about how to discover vulnerabilities.

Lopez, known by his hacker alias try_to_hack earned his first bounty just a few months after signing up to HackerOne.

"The entire HackerOne community stands in awe of Santiago's work," said HackerOne CEO Marten Mickos. "Curious, self-taught and creative, Santiago is a role model for hundreds of thousands of aspiring hackers around the world.

"The hacker community is the most powerful defense we have against cyber crime. This is a fantastic milestone for Santiago but still much greater are the improvements in security that companies have achieved and keep achieving thanks to Santiago's relentless work."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.