United launches bug bounty, but in-flight systems off limits

United will give loyalty miles as a reward instead of cash for finding flaws in its websites

United Airlines is offering rewards to researchers for finding flaws in its websites but the company is excluding bugs related to in-flight systems, which the U.S. government says may be increasingly targeted by hackers.

The bug bounty program rewards people with miles that can be used for the company's Mileage Plus loyalty program as opposed to cash, which web giants such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo pay.

Many companies have launched reward programs to attract independent researchers to investigate their software code and confidentially report flaws before hackers discover them.

United may be the first airline to create such a program, but the airline will not accept bugs found in onboard Wi-Fi, entertainment or avionics systems.

It warned of possible criminal and legal investigations for any testing of live systems on planes or aircraft systems.

The program comes shortly after United bumped heads with a security researcher who has probed aircraft software flaws. Chris Roberts, founder and CTO of One World Labs, was questioned by police and FBI agents following a flight last month on a United 737/800.

Roberts had written a joking tweet on April 15 referring to the aircraft's Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System, or EICAS, which monitors a variety of systems.

United's program comes about a month after a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office warned that aircraft avionics systems could be at risk due to increasing Internet connectivity.

Software vulnerabilities in firewalls that separate cabin systems from cockpits could be subverted and "allow an attacker to gain remote access to avionics systems and compromise them," it said.

The airline will give 1 million air miles for an eligible remote execution flaw, 250,000 for issues such as authentication bypass, brute force or timing attacks and 50,000 for cross-site scripting and request forgery flaws.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityUnited Airlines

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?