Katie Moussouris

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Katie Moussouris
Moussoris at Kiwicon in Wellington, New Zealand in 2015
Occupation(s)Security researcher, CEO, Entrepreneur
Employer(s)Luta Security
Known forBug bounty programs, Vulnerability disclosure

Katie Moussouris is an American computer security researcher, entrepreneur, and pioneer in vulnerability disclosure, and is best known for her ongoing work advocating responsible security research. Previously a member of @stake, she created the bug bounty program at Microsoft[1] and was directly involved in creating the U.S. Department of Defense's first bug bounty program for hackers.[2][3] She previously served as Chief Policy Officer at HackerOne, a vulnerability disclosure company based in San Francisco, California,[4] and currently is the founder and CEO of Luta Security.[5]


Moussouris had interest in computers at a young age and learned to program in BASIC on a Commodore 64 that her mother bought her in 3rd grade.[6][7] She was the first girl to take AP Computer Science at her high school.[6] She attended Simmons College to study molecular biology and mathematics and simultaneously worked on the Human Genome Project at the MIT Whitehead Institute. While at Whitehead she transitioned from a lab assistant to a systems administrator role, and after three years she became the systems administrator for the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where she helped design the computer system for a new lab that was to open in 2000.[6] During this time she also worked as the systems administrator at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

She moved to California to work as a Linux developer at Turbolinux and started their computer security response program.[7][8] She was active within the West Coast hacker scene and formally joined @stake as a penetration tester in 2002 by invitation of Chris Wysopal.[9]


Moussouris joined Symantec in October 2004 when they acquired @stake.[10][11] While there, she founded and managed Symantec Vulnerability Research in 2004, which was the first program to allow Symantec researchers to publish vulnerability research.[12]


In May 2007, Moussouris left Symantec to join Microsoft as a security strategist.[11] She founded the Microsoft Vulnerability Research (MSVR) program, announced at BlackHat 2008.[13] The program has coordinated the response to several significant vulnerabilities, including Dan Kaminsky's DNS flaw,[14] and has also actively looked for bugs in third-party software affecting Microsoft customers (subsequent examples of this include Google's Project Zero).

From September 2010 until May 2014, Moussouris was the Senior Security Strategist Lead at Microsoft, where she ran the Security Community Outreach and Strategy team for Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) team.[15] She instigated the Microsoft BlueHat Prize for Advancement of Exploit Mitigations,[16] which awarded over $260,000 in prizes to researchers at BlackHat USA 2012.[17] The grand prize of $200,000 was at the time the largest cash payout being offered by a software vendor.[18] She also created Microsoft's first bug bounty program,[1] which paid over $253,000 and received 18 vulnerabilities over the course of her tenure.

ISO vulnerability disclosure standard[edit]

Moussouris has helped edit the ISO/IEC 29147 document since around 2008. In April 2016, ISO made the standard freely available at no charge after a request from Moussouris and the CERT Coordination Center's Art Manion.[19]


In May 2014, Moussouris was named the Chief Policy Officer at HackerOne, a vulnerability disclosure company based in San Francisco, California.[4] In this role, Moussouris was responsible for the company's vulnerability disclosure philosophy, and worked to promote and legitimize security research among organizations, legislators and policy makers.

"Hack the ..." series[edit]

While still at Microsoft, Moussouris began discussing a bug bounty program with the federal government; she continued these talks when she moved to HackerOne.[20] In March 2016, Moussouris was directly involved in creating the Department of Defense's "Hack the Pentagon" pilot program, organized and vetted by HackerOne.[21] It was the first bug bounty program in the history of the US federal government.[22]

Moussouris followed up the Pentagon program with "Hack the Air Force". HackerOne and Luta Security are partnering to deliver up to 20 bug bounty challenges over three years to the Defense Department.[23]

Luta Security[edit]

In April 2016,[24] Moussouris founded Luta Security,[25] a consultancy to help organizations and governments work collaboratively with hackers through bug bounty programs.

New America fellow[edit]

During 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, Katie Moussouris served as a Cybersecurity Fellow at New America, a U.S.-based think tank.[26][27]

Wassenaar Arrangement amendment[edit]

In 2013, the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies was amended to include "intrusion software". Moussouris wrote an op-ed in Wired criticizing the move as harmful to the vulnerability disclosure industry due to the overly-broad definition and encouraged security experts to write in to help regulators understand how to make the right changes.[28] She was invited as a technical expert to directly assist in the US Wassenaar Arrangement negotiations, and helped rewrite the amendment to adopt end-use decontrol exemptions based on the intent of the user.[29]

Exploit labor market research[edit]

Moussouris was a visiting scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management and affiliate researcher at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, where she conducted economic research on the labor market for security bugs. She coauthored a book chapter on the first system dynamics model of the vulnerability economy and exploit market, published by MIT Press in 2017.[30][31]

Congressional testimony[edit]

In 2018, Moussouris testified in front of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security about security research for defensive purposes.[32]

In 2021, Moussouris testified in front of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology about improving the cybersecurity of software supply chains.[33]

Anuncia Donecia Songsong Manglona Lab for Gender and Economic Equity[edit]

In 2021, Moussouris donated $1 million to found the Anuncia Donecia Songsong Manglona Lab for Gender and Economic Equity, at Penn State Law, named after her mother. The “Manglona Lab” will start with a gender equity litigation clinic intended to address workplace financial discrimination while promoting economic equity under the law.[34]


In 2014, SC Magazine named Moussouris to its Women in IT Security list.[12] She was also named as one of "10 Women in Information Security That Everyone Should Know,"[35] and the "One To Watch" among the 2011 Women of Influence awards.[36] In 2018 she was featured among "America's Top 50 Women In Tech" by Forbes.[37]


  • Night of the Living ISO Draft on Vulnerability Disclosure,[38] Symposium 2010.
  • The Wolves of Vuln Street: The 1st Dynamic Systems Model of the 0day Market,[39] RSA Conference 2015.
  • Panel: How the Wassenaar Arrangement's Export Control of "Intrusion Software" Affects the Security Industry,[40] BlackHatUSA 2015
  • Swinging From the Cyberlier: How to Hack Like Tomorrow Doesn't Exist Without Flying Sideways of Regulations,[41] Kiwicon 2015

Publications and articles[edit]

  • "Not All Hackers are Evil". Time. Retrieved April 4, 2016.[42]
  • "Vulnerability Disclosure Deja Vu: Prosecute Crime Not Research". Dark Reading. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  • "Mad World: The Truth About Bug Bounties". Dark Reading. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  • "How I Got Here: Katie Moussouris". Threat Post. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  • "Hackers Can Be Helpers". The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2017.[43]
  • "Administration should continue to seek changes to international cyber export controls". The Hill. Retrieved June 18, 2017.[44]
  • "The Time Has Come to Hack the Planet". Threatpost. Retrieved September 24, 2017.[45]

Microsoft lawsuit[edit]

In September 2015, Moussouris filed a discrimination class-action lawsuit against Microsoft in federal court in Seattle. She alleged that Microsoft hiring practices upheld a practice of sex discrimination against women in technical and engineering roles with respect to performance evaluations, pay, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment.[46][47]


  1. ^ a b "Ex-Microsoft Bug Bounty dev forced to decrypt laptop for Paris airport official". The Register. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  2. ^ "Pentagon Launches the Feds' First 'Bug Bounty' for Hackers". WIRED. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  3. ^ "Hack The Pentagon: DoD Launches First-Ever Federal Bug Bounty Program". Dark Reading. March 2, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "HackerOne Secures $9 Million, Appoints Katie Moussouris Chief Policy Officer | SecurityWeek.Com". www.securityweek.com. May 29, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  5. ^ "Luta Security". Luta Security, Inc. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "GeekGirl of the Week - July 1999". GirlGeeks. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  7. ^ a b McGraw, Gary (July 2015). "Silver Bullet Talks with Katie Moussouris". IEEE Security and Privacy. 13 (4): 7–9. doi:10.1109/MSP.2015.89.
  8. ^ Moussouris, Katie. "Penetration Testing is Dead! Long Live Penetration Testing!" (PDF). HackFest 2014. SANS Institute. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  9. ^ Fisher, Dennis (March 9, 2018). "'Nothing's Going to Last Forever': An Oral History of the LØpht, Part Four". Decipher. Duo Security. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  10. ^ Rashid, Fahmida (August 15, 2014). "Sisters in Security: Katie Moussouris' Leaps of Faith". PCMagazine. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Naraine, Ryan. "Symantec vulnerability research founder joins Microsoft". Zero Day. ZDNet. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "2014 Women in IT Security: Katie Moussouris". SC Magazine. August 4, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  13. ^ Kaplan, Dan (August 8, 2008). "BLACK HAT: Microsoft to work with third parties over vulns". SC Media US. Haymarket Media, Inc. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  14. ^ Lemos, Robert. "Alliance forms to fix DNS poisoning flaw". SecurityFocus. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  15. ^ Leggio, Jennifer. "100 Brains: Microsoft's Katie Moussouris makes security accessible | ZDNet". ZDNet. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  16. ^ DuPaul, Neil. "Microsoft BlueHat - 5 Questions with Katie Moussouris". Veracode. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  17. ^ Smith (pseudonym), Ms. (July 27, 2012). "Microsoft BlueHat Prize Winners". CSO Online. IDG Communications, Inc. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  18. ^ Kamath, Maya (August 8, 2015). "Here is list of world's biggest 'Bug Bounty' payouts by tech companies". TechWorm. TechWorm.net. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  19. ^ Saarinen, Juha. "ISO vulnerability disclosure standard now free". iTnews. nextmedia Pty Ltd. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  20. ^ Zetter, Kim. "Bug Bounty Guru Katie Moussouris Will Help Hackers and Companies Play Nice". WIRED. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  21. ^ Shinkman, Paul D. (April 1, 2016). "To Modernize Military, Pentagon Turns to Hackers". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  22. ^ "'Hack the Pentagon' Pilot Program Opens for Registration". US Department of Defense News. US Department of Defense. March 31, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  23. ^ O'Neill, Patrick Howell (April 26, 2017). "U.S. launches 'Hack the Air Force' bug bounty program - Cyberscoop". Cyberscoop. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  24. ^ Brook, Chris (April 14, 2016). "Katie Moussouris On Hack The Pentagon,Embracing Hackers". Threat Post. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  25. ^ "Luta Security". Luta Security.
  26. ^ "The 2016-2017 Cybersecurity Fellows". New America 2016-2017 Cybersecurity Fellows. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  27. ^ "The 2015-2016 Cybersecurity Fellows". 2015-2016 Cybersecurity Fellows.
  28. ^ Stevenson, Alastair (July 22, 2015). "A tiny change to this obscure arms dealing agreement could kill the cyber security industry". Business Insider. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  29. ^ Waterman, Shaun (December 20, 2017). "The Wassenaar Arrangement's latest language is making security researchers very happy". CyberScoop. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "Katie Moussouris". National Security Institute. George Mason University. Archived from the original on April 13, 2019. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  31. ^ Ellis, Ryan; Huang, Keman; Siegel, Michael; Moussouris, Katie; Houghton, James (January 26, 2018). "Fixing a Hole: The Labor Market for Bugs". New Solutions for Cybersecurity: 129–160. doi:10.7551/mitpress/11636.003.0006. ISBN 9780262346641.
  33. ^ "On SolarWinds and Beyond: Improving the Cybersecurity of Software Supply Chains" (PDF).
  34. ^ "Cybersecurity pioneer gives $1 million for Penn State Law gender equity lab | Penn State University". news.psu.edu. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  35. ^ "Mischel Kwon". www.eweek.com. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  36. ^ Editor, Joan Goodchild and Senior (December 19, 2011). "2011 Women of Influence award winners named". CSO Online. Retrieved April 4, 2016. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  37. ^ "Katie Moussouris". Forbes.
  38. ^ "NCSC". Archived from the original on September 24, 2017. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  39. ^ "The Wolves of Vuln Street: The 1st Dynamic Systems Model of the 0day Market - USA 2015 - RSA Conference". www.rsaconference.com.
  40. ^ "Black Hat USA 2015". www.blackhat.com.
  41. ^ "Talks | Kiwicon 8". Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  42. ^ Moussouris, Katie (April 2016). "Not All Hackers Are Evil". Time.com. Time Magazine. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  43. ^ Moussouris, Katie. "Hackers Can Be Helpers". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  44. ^ Moussouris, Katie (January 31, 2017). "Administration should continue to seek changes to international cyber export controls". thehill.com. The Hill. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  45. ^ Moussouris, Katie (April 15, 2016). "The Time Has Come to Hack the Planet". Threatpost. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  46. ^ Jane Mundy (September 21, 2015). "Microsoft Accused of Discrimination against Women". Lawyersandsettlements.com. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  47. ^ "Microsoft Sued in Class Action Alleging Sex Discrimination". Reuters.com. September 16, 2015. Archived from the original on December 10, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2015.

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