Chrome Fuzzer Program Update And How-To

TL;DR We increased the Chrome Fuzzer Program bonus from $500 to $1,000 as part of our recent update of reward amounts.

Chrome Fuzzer Program is a part of the Google Chrome Vulnerability Reward Program that lets security researchers run their fuzzers at scale on the ClusterFuzz infrastructure. It makes bug reporting fully automated, and the fuzzer authors get the same rewards as if they reported the bugs manually, plus an extra bonus ($1,000 as of now) on top of it for every new vulnerability.

We run fuzzers indefinitely, and some of the fuzzers contributed years ago are still finding security issues in ever changing Chrome code. This is a win-win for both sides, as security researchers do not have to spend time analyzing the crashes, and Chrome developers receive high quality bug reports automatically.

To learn more about the Chrome Fuzzer Program, let’s talk to Ned Williamson, who’s been a participant since 2017 and now works on the Google Security team.

Q: Hey Ned! It looks like you’ve received over $50,000 by participating in the Google Chrome Vulnerability Reward Program with your quic_stream_factory_fuzzer.

A: Yes, it’s true. I wrote a fuzzer for QUIC which helped me find and report two critical vulnerabilities, each worth $10,000. Because I knew my fuzzer worked well, I submitted it to the Chrome Fuzzer Program. Then, in the next few months, I received that reward three more times (plus a bonus), as the fuzzer caught several security regressions on ClusterFuzz soon after they happened.

Q: Have you intentionally focused on the areas that yield higher severity issues and bigger rewards?

A: Yes. While vulnerabilities in code that is more critical to user security yield larger reward amounts, I actually started by looking at lower severity bugs and incrementally began looking for more severe bugs until I could find critical ones. You can see this progression by looking at the bugs I reported manually as an external researcher.

Q: Would you suggest starting by looking for non-critical bugs?

A: I would say so. Security-critical code is generally better designed and more thoroughly audited, so it might be discouraging to start from there. Finding less critical security bugs and winning bounties is a good way to build confidence and stay motivated.

Q: Can you share an algorithm on how to find security bugs in Chrome?

A: Looking at previous and existing bug reports, even for non-security crashes, is a great way to tell which code is security-critical and potentially buggy. From there, if some code looks like it’s exposed to user inputs, I’d set up a fuzzing campaign against that component. After you gain experience you will not need to rely on existing reports to find new attack surface, which in turn helps you find places that have not been considered by previous researchers. This was the case for my QUIC fuzzer.

Q: How did you learn to write fuzzers?

A: I didn’t have any special knowledge about fuzzing before I started looking for vulnerabilities in Chrome. I followed the documentation in the repository and I still follow the same process today.

Q: Your fuzzer isn’t very simple compared to many other fuzzers. How did you get to that implementation?

A: The key insight in the QUIC fuzzer was realizing that the parts of the code that handled plaintext messages after decryption were prone to memory corruption. Typically, fuzzing does not perform well with encrypted inputs (it’s pretty hard to “randomly” generate a packet that can be successfully decrypted), so I extended the QUIC testing code to allow for testing with encryption disabled.

Q: Are there any other good examples of fuzz targets employing a similar logic?

A: Another example is pdf_formcalc_context_fuzzer that wraps the fuzzing input around with a valid hardcoded PDF file, therefore focusing fuzzing only on the XFA script part of it. As a researcher, you just need to choose what exactly you want to fuzz, and then understand how to execute that code properly. Looking at the unit tests is usually the easiest way to get such an understanding.

Useful links:

Happy fuzzing and bug hunting!