Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Digital Bounty Hunting

Say whatever you like about Google but they sure understand the economics of security.

This last weekend Google paid out $47,500 in bounties. Not for criminals or desperadoes, but techniques used to hack Google's Chrome web browser. Google understands that the best way to stop hackers is to bribe them.

And they have the deep pockets to pay out plenty. Google has already budgeted $1 million in bounties to be paid at the 12th Annual CanSecWest conference which starts Wednesday. They are offering a range of bounties from $20,000 to $50,000 depending on the severity of the exploit. I can just see the geek hordes rubbing their greedy hands in joyous villainy.

As a business model, this makes perfect sense. Security is the single largest concern in the digital world. As more and more business moves into cyberspace, we need to know our transactions, identities and money are all secure. By "hiring" hackers, Google is using their creativity and skills to improve their product. Why risk federal prison when Google will just hand you a check? It's a win-win scenario.

It's all about turning a negative into a positive. This is a well respected marketing tactic, such as Avis's "We Try Harder" ad campaign. Avis acknowledged that they were second to Hertz in the rental car business but used that to their advantage in a very successful campaign. What if there's a way to take advantage of the negatives in your business?

Can you adopt a similar practice in your business? Is there a way you can turn a negative into a positive?

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