Apple said its program, launched in 2016, is a work in progress. Until 2019, the program was not officially opened to the public, although researchers say the program was never exclusive. […] In interviews with more than two dozen security researchers, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements, the approaches taken by Apple’s rivals were held up for comparison. Facebook, Microsoft and Google publicize their programs and highlight security researchers who receive bounties in blog posts and leader boards. They hold conferences and provide resources to encourage a broad international audience to participate. And most of them pay more money each year than Apple, which is at times the world’s most valuable company.
Microsoft paid $13.6 million in the 12-month period beginning July 2020. Google paid $6.7 million in 2020. Apple spent $3.7 million last year, Krstic said in his statement. He said that number is likely to increase this year. Payment amounts aren’t the only measure of success, however. The best programs support open conversations between the hackers and the companies. Apple, already known for being tight-lipped, limits communication and feedback on why it chooses to pay or not pay for a bug, according to security researchers who have submitted bugs to the bounty program and a former employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a nondisclosure agreement. Apple also has a massive backlog of bugs that it hasn’t fixed, according to the former employee and a current employee, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of an NDA.