Under the Mozilla Security Bug Bounty Program, users who report security bugs that Mozilla Foundation staffers judge as critical will win $500. The open-source project manages production of the Mozilla web and email applications suite.
The reward initiative, with seed funding by Linux developer Linspire and internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, comes after reports of vulnerabilities in the Mozilla browsers and after Microsoft patched critical flaws in Internet Explorer.
"Recent events illustrate the need for this type of commitment," Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation, said in a prepared statement.
The bounty program "will help us unearth security issues earlier, allowing our supporters to provide us with a head start on correcting vulnerabilities before they are exploited by malicious hackers," Baker said.
The Mozilla Foundation said the program will be supplemented by donations from Mozilla supporters and encouraged donations.