Digital India opening up new sources of income for the innovative

Digital India is opening up new sources of income for the innovative: India's Bounty Hunters.

3 years ago, faced with the challenge of repaying an education loan, then 20-year-old Manish Bhattacharya was desperate to make money, reports Times of India. So, Bhattacharya, a student of computer science, focused all his energies on one thing: bug bounties. Bug bounties are monetary rewards offered by tech firms to geeks who spot bugs, errors and security flaws before malicious hackers spot them. Bhattacharya got his first bounty of $100 in 2013 from Asana, a firm that lets teams track their work, for reporting a minor security glitch. In 2 years, this Bhagalpur lad earned enough to square off his loan and become financially independent.

"My highest reward is $5,000 (about Rs 3.5 lakh) paid by Google," said Bhattacharya, who was rewarded by the technology giant for reporting a remote login vulnerability. Bhattacharya isn't the only desi bug bounty hunter saddling up and scouring cyberspace for flaws and glitches. A report by one of the earliest crowdsourcing companies called Bugcrowd found that 28.2% of the hacker sign-ups worldwide for bug bounty programmes until March were from India. Techies from US (24.4%), the UK (3.9%), Pakistan (3.5%) and Australia (2.4%) came next.

The idea of bug bounties goes back to 1995, when Netscape offered a reward to hackers for spotting bugs in its web browser. Almost all the tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter and Yahoo! either have their own programmes or work with third-party companies to reward hackers based on the severity of the security flaw reported. Even companies such as General Motors, Khan Academy, Starbucks and United Airlines have bug bounty programmes.

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