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How Much Did Google Pay to the Brief Owner of its Domain?


For Sanmay Ved, last year ended with a surprising bang. Back in October, the Babson University student made headlines in the media after very briefly owning the main domain name of Google.com.

So if you’re wondering what it feels like to own Google, Ved can give you a little of his insight. Thankfully for the search giant, Google was quick to take the domain back, but not before Ved started receiving important data in his email.

However, after setting things right again, Google said Ved deserved an award for discovering the vulnerability that allowed him to buy the domain. Back then, Ved – and Google alike – declined to disclose the exact sum of money included in the award, with the student only telling the media it was “more than $10,000.”

So how much did Google pay to the brief owner of its domain?

The money and the story soon died down, but now, thanks to the company’s post titled “Google Security Rewards — 2015 Year in Review,” we finally find out. You see, Google had initially decided to award Ved with the sum of $6006.13.

Why this sum exactly? Because according to traditional leet (also known as “1337”), these numbers can also (kind of) spell out “Google.” But after the company discovered the altruistic student wanted to donate the money award to charity, it doubled the figure to $12,012.26.

So after giving up on its silly game, Google gave Ved his winnings, which eventually ended up to The Art of Living India, an educational charity the student supports and believes in.

The event that made Ved famous took place in September 29, 2015, when he was browsing Google Domains, the company’s website buying service. To his surprise, he suddenly noticed that Google.com was listed as up for grabs.

For a mere $12, Ved bought the domain, and was the lucky owner for an entire minute, before he received an email from the registration site that said his purchase had been cancelled. To this day, the whys and hows of Google losing control of its domain name are still unclear.

Seeing that Google also owns the domain registration service Ved used, it wasn’t too difficult to quickly transfer Google.com back to itself.

Ved’s award was part of Google’s Vulnerability Rewards program, which recompenses people who find loopholes and vulnerabilities within Google. In 2015, the tech company paid out over $2 million to more than 300 researchers, including a single award of $37,500 to a lucky Android security researcher.

Do you think $12,000 is a fair price for Google to pay for getting its domain back? Should have Ved received more money, especially since it was going to charity anyway?

Image Source: Flickr

About John W Arthur

John is the head of our IT Security team and he writes about Security, IT news on The Next Digit. He was the Employee of the Year 2013 for his selfless support and efficiently setting up the whole security infrastructure. He also occasionally writes on "IT Sec Pro" Print Media of Sweden. All posts by John

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