When I was 10 years old, my piggy bank wasn’t exactly flush with cash.
It contained approximately $8 in random change, a few flattened pennies from the state fair and three beloved Susan B. Anthony dollars.
For my financial needs, a glass pig was sufficient… but for Jani, a 10-year-old from Finland, it’s probably not going to work.
Because he recently earned $10,000 for finding a bug on Instagram.
Jani uncovered a “vulnerability that allowed him to delete any comment on the photo sharing application,” reports Forbes.
And thanks to Facebook’s bug bounty program — which applies to seven of the company’s properties, including Instagram — he was handsomely rewarded.
What’s a “Bug Bounty”?
In case you’re as clueless as I was about what that actually means, here’s a primer: Big tech companies like Facebook want “white-hat hackers” (the good guys) to find and report flaws on their platforms.
“We recognize and reward security researchers who help us keep people safe by reporting vulnerabilities in our services,” Facebook explains.
So if you find something important, you might get a reward.
“We determine bounty amounts based on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to) impact, ease of exploitation, and quality of the report,” it says. “If we pay a bounty, the minimum reward is $500.”
Since its launch in 2011, the program’s received “2,400+ valid submissions and awarded more than $4.3 million to 800+ researchers around the world,” according to its most recent report.
Jani, the young Finn, “discovered he could alter code on Instagram servers to force delete users’ words,” reports Forbes.
Or, as he explained to a local newspaper, “I would have been able to eliminate anyone, even Justin Bieber.” (God forbid we lose Bieber’s eloquent prose. Society would crumble!)
Jokes aside, that’s a pretty huge vulnerability — which is why Jani received such a big reward.
He’s the youngest recipient of a Facebook bug bounty, and “plans to spend his earnings on football and a new bicycle,” according to Forbes.
Adorbs. And kind of depressing, since at 10 years old, this kid is far more technically talented than I’ll ever be.
Ways to Make Money
If you’re naturally techy, then you might want to start your own hunt for bugs.
And if you’re not a tech genius, no worries — we have 19 other ridiculous ways you can make 10 grand.
Your Turn: Have you heard of the Facebook bug bounty program before?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.