Developer scores $100,000 bounty from Apple for exposing a critical vulnerability

Fake ladybug on a circuit board

Apple awarded $100,000 to Bhavuk Jain for identifying a security vulnerability in the "Sign in with Apple" feature found on some websites and third-party applications. Hackers could use the bug to take control of a user's account.

Apple's servers use a JSON Web Token, which can contain the user’s Apple ID email address, to verify a user account during the “Sign in with Apple” process.

Jain discovered he could request a JSON Web Token for a real Apple account, and the signature would be verified each time. With an email address connected to an Apple ID, a hacker could to get a validated token and access the account.

Apple reviewed server logs during the patching process and determined the flaw had not been exploited. Accounts using two-factor authentication are less likely to be vulnerable to this bug.

This type of hacking-for-pay is relatively common today. Apple and other tech companies use bounty programs to encourage white-hat hackers to uncover vulnerabilities in their software.

This allows companies to patch flaws before they are made public for a fraction of the cost of fixing hacks post-mortem. Companies pay the most substantial bounties for exposing serious vulnerabilities.

David Gargaro has been providing content writing and copy editing services for more than 20 years. He has worked with companies across numerous industries, including (but not limited to) advertising, publishing, marketing, real estate, finance, insurance, law, automotive, construction, human resources, restoration services, and manufacturing. He has also managed a team of freelancers as the managing editor of a small publishing company.