An engineer from the Indian state of Manipur is the latest to be honored by Facebook for detecting a WhatsApp bug. The 22 year old Zonel Sougaijam has also been inducted into the Facebook Hall of Fame for being one among 94 people “for making a responsible disclosure” to the social networking giant.
The social networking giant awarded Zonel Sougaijam $5000 (roughly about Rs. 3.4 lakh) for the discovery and also included him in the 14th position of the ‘Facebook Hall of Fame 2019’ that has so far included 96 people for “making a responsible disclosure” to Facebook.
The honor to Sougaijam comes in the wake of his reporting of a bug that had been plaguing the widely used instant messaging platform WhatsApp. Pursuing his bachelor’s in Civil Engineering, the young lad discovered that a bug on WhatsApp allowed receivers to upgrade a voice call to a video call without the knowledge and perhaps consent of the other person.
In what would have been a serious infringement of privacy and a lapse of digital security, the reported bug also had other repercussions. A video call paused due to a turning off of the camera on the messaging platform could also be revived by the one at the other end without requiring them to even touch the phone.
However his induction into the Facebook Hall of Fame isn’t the only honor that Sougaijam received. The social media giant also awarded him $5000 (Rs 3,50,000 approx) based on the degree of severity the reported bug possessed. With 1.5 billion active WhatsApp users, the bug would have done much to invade the privacy of those availing the platform’s call services.
Notably, the minimum bounty amount one can be awarded on reporting a bug that can be a veritable security threat is $500 which amounts to roughly Rs 34,000 in Indian currency.
Another Indian K.S. Ananthakrishna from Kerala is also another bug detector who had made it to the prestigious Hall of Fame. The 19 year old B. Tech student detected a bug that allowed others to completely remove files on WhatsApp, even without the knowledge of the user.
The memory corruption bug was identified by Ananthakrishna who then reported it to the Facebook officials and also provided a solution for the same. Facebook in turn honored this young prodigy with the cash award of $500 after successfully evaluating the bug and its rectification for a period of two months.