Considering the amount and sensitivity of the data they handle, I'm not sure a t-shirt is an appropriate top-tier reward.
Management: "Why do we offer $5k for a small bug again? Look at CF, they don't offer any money!"
Answer: "Because if they had set up a bounty of $50k for security issues, they'd had thousands of researchers/students/white hats etc. watching the output of their servers."
But, Taviso is probably contractually prohibited from accepting money from CF as a Google employee. Many large companies have 'outside activity' clauses and Google seems to be paying him already for that.
However, it will affect others whom are fully freelance.
Let's say I (an idiot, but knowledgeable enough) stumble upon a serious vulnerability in Google.
Option 1: I could try to sell that on a darknet market for a decent amount of money. State actors, hacker groups, lots of people want to pay for such things to exploit. But, I might not get paid very much, I might get screwed over, I might go to jail, who the heck knows, I'm playing with a bit of fire here. Could make a good pay day though.
Option 2: Google offers a bug bounty that is known to pay well. It probably offers guidance on how much my exploit is worth. They'll almost certainly pay. And hey, no one gets exploited, which most people feel is a good thing.
Value = payout * probability. If bug bounties pay well, option 2 has a higher value most of the time. But if a company offers t-shirts, or is known for screwing over the discoverer, the perceived value falls quickly.
That's why companies who take security seriously pay good bounties, loudly and publicly.
Is selling exploits illegal? If so is selling them to google also illegal?
It's more of a contractual agreement between you and Google, or whatever company you're reporting the vulnerability to.
As long as you follow the rules for their bug bounty, you'll be fine.
Telling them about exploits in other services in exchange for money might be, depending on context.
Your parent was talking about the former case.
Maybe. If the FBI decides to build a case against you for it, I'm sure they could find a law to use.
> is selling them to google also illegal?
I'm disclosing, and Google is granting me a reward. There's... Some difference I'm sure.
>> top-tier reward of a t-shirt.