The Mozilla Foundation, maker of the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail application, is offering a $500 (£275) bounty to users who identify and report bugs found in its open-source software.
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Foundation staff will determine who earns the cash prize.
Mozilla launched the initiative with funding from Linux software developer Linspire and internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.
The goal of the Mozilla Security Bug Bounty Programme is to encourage users to identify and report security bugs.
"This programme reflects our commitment to protecting consumers from malicious actors," said Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation.
"Recent events illustrate the need for this type of commitment. While no software is immune from security vulnerabilities, bugs in open-source projects are often identified and fixed more quickly."
Mitchell said the programme will help Mozilla unearth security issues earlier and get a head start on correcting vulnerabilities before they are exploited by malicious hackers.
The Mozilla Foundation is soliciting donations for the programme from its users and supporters.
Linda Rosencrance writes for Computerworld