The boy, Jani, was playing around with Instagram he discovered a security flaw on the image sharing site. Interestingly, the boy was too young to have his own account (the minimum age for joining the social network is 13 years old.)
The flaw that Janu found was a computer glitch that allowed someone to delete comments made by other users of the site. According to the website Geek, the code allowed Jani to delete comments from anyone’s page, even verified accounts of big names like Justin Bieber.
On discovering the error, Instagram rapidly fixed the problem. As a reward for his efforts, under the Facebook “bug bounty” prize on offer for those who discover big flaws in one of the company’s products, Jani received $10,000.
Jani found the error in February and sent an email to Facebook. Engineers set up an account for Jani, tested his claim, and confirmed it. The company then produced a software patch to fix the problem.
Speaking with the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti, Jani said he planned to use the money to purchase a new bike, football equipment and computers.
So far, Facebook has paid out $4.3 million under the “bug bounty” pot, dating back to 2011. This is standard procedure for many companies, in terms of offering financial incentives to both professional and amateur computer experts to look for flaws in software. This is to avoid people passing on the flaws to those who might exploit the flaws for more nefarious reasons. Companies that use the scheme include Yahoo!, Reddit, Square and Google.
At the age of 10, Jani is the youngest recipient of the prize. He is hoping to become a security researcher when he is older.
The previous young computer whiz to receive a similar prize was Alex Miller from California, who received $3,000 from Mozilla back in 2010 at the age of 12.