Prize for zero-day Windows flaws: $20,000

Security research company holds 'Hacker's Challenge' through the end of February

A security research company is offering $20,000 for information on undisclosed security flaws in Microsoft's Windows OS.

Digital Armaments, which doesn't list a phone number or a headquarters address on its Web site, is offering the money as part of the "Hacker's Challenge" through midnight EST, Feb. 29. The company is also soliciting for flaws in what it terms "Windows Diffuse Applications."

Submitters need to illustrate a working exploit and document it, according to the company's Web site, which is filled with misspelled words.

There's nothing illegal about paying security researchers for flaws, but it does tend to annoy software companies whose products are affected.

Wabisabilabi, based in Switzerland, took the idea of compensating researchers a step further last year by opening a site for them to sell vulnerabilities in auctions. In response to criticism, company officials countered that researchers could sell zero-day vulnerabilities on the black market.

Microsoft, whose security vulnerabilities are generally high profile, advocates that researchers discretely alert it to software problems so that users aren't put at risk. Companies generally refuse to pay for software vulnerabilities.

Digital Armaments says on its Web site its research team was founded in 2003, and offices were opened in the United States later that year.

In addition to paying money for vulnerabilities, Digital Armaments will also apparently pay in stock or credits that can be exchanged for stock under its Digital Armaments Contribution Program.

Efforts to reach Digital Armaments on Wednesday morning by e-mail were unsuccessful.

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