Microsoft says it is launching a sandbox dubbed the “Azure Security Lab” that will pay out $300,000 to security researchers who can demonstrate a functional exploit that enables escape from a guest Virtual Machine (VM) to the host or to another guest VM.
(The company, like thousands of others, offers a comprehensive bug bounty programme, through which security researchers can get paid for submitting proof that they have found a way to exploit a given company’s hardware or software.)
The Azure Security Lab will spin up Windows Server 2019 or Ubuntu Linux VMs. Security researchers wanting to get stuck in need to fill in an application form.
“To make it easier for security researchers to confidently and aggressively test Azure, we are inviting a select group of talented individuals to come and do their worst to emulate criminal hackers in a customer-safe cloud environment,” Microsoft said.
“We have a limited number of hosts available in the Azure Security Lab, so access is by application only. Azure Security Lab scenario awards are only offered for the exploit scenarios above and must be performed within the Azure Security Lab,” it said.
Microsoft is also doubling the top bug bounty reward for Azure vulnerabilities to $40,000 – this spans critical remote code executions and privilege escalations. It says it has paid out $4.4 million in bounties over the past 12 months.
The company has also formalised protections for security researchers against the threat of legal action, saying: “To encourage research and responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities, we will not pursue civil or criminal action, or send notice to law enforcement for accidental or good faith violations of Microsoft Bug Terms and Conditions. We consider security research and vulnerability disclosure activities conducted consistent with this policy to be “authorized” conduct under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the DMCA, and other applicable computer use laws.
“We waive any potential DMCA claim against you for circumventing the technological measures we have used to protect the applications in our bug bounty programs’ scope
“If legal action is initiated by a third party, including law enforcement, against you because of your participation in this bug bounty program, and you have sufficiently complied with our bug bounty policy (i.e. have not made intentional or bad faith violations), we will take steps to make it known that your actions were conducted in compliance with this policy.