Explaining Bug Bounty Program
What is Bug Bounty Program?
A Vulnerability Rewards Program (VRP), commonly referred to as a Bug Bounty Program, gives rewards to people who find and disclose software problems.
These crowdsourcing initiatives are frequently employed by businesses in addition to penetration tests and internal code audits, as part of a vulnerability management plan.
Independent security professionals are allowed to submit defects to a corporation under the terms of “Bug Bounty Program“ in exchange for incentives or payment. These faults could be exploits for security, weaknesses in processes, hardware flaws, etc.
Programs conducted by independent third parties are often used to report bugs that have been found. These kinds of programs are largely selected to meet the needs of an Organization.
Anybody can sign up for the program, but it might also be private or invite-only for confidentiality reasons. The program may run for a predetermined amount of time or, more frequently, without a deadline.
Who Makes Use of Bug Bounty Schemes?
Bug Bounty Programs are used by big businesses like Apple, Android, AOL, Digital Ocean, Goldman Sachs, etc. as a part of their security program. On their websites, bug bounty providers like HackerOne and Bugcrowd provide a list of all the programs they provide.
What Drives Businesses to Use Bug Bounty Programs?
By utilizing hackers who can find defects in the firms’ code, Bug Bounty Programs help businesses.
These applications have more access to testers and hackers, increasing the likelihood that defects will be discovered before criminal hackers try to take advantage of them.
It may be a wise public relations decision for businesses. These programs can also be used to show authorities and the general public that a corporation has an established security program.
Since they are now regarded as industry standards that all businesses should invest in, the popularity of these programs is expected to continue.
Why Do Researchers and Hackers Take Part in Programs to Pay for Bugs?
It is a fantastic option for individuals to make a full-time income, additional revenue to supplement a Career, or demonstrate real-world experience for people looking for a job because the programs offer both cash bonuses and recognition to those detecting and reporting bugs.
A techie from Indore recently received payment of over 6.5 million from Google’s Bug Bounty Program for finding 232 vulnerabilities in Android.
These programs can occasionally assist participants in connecting with a company’s security staff.
Some people enjoy taking part in these programs because they can be enjoyable as well! It is a fantastic and, of course, legal opportunity to compare one’s abilities to those of major corporations and governmental organizations.
Advantages of the Bug Bounty Program
Due to the numerous advantages they provide to the business being tested, Bug Bounty Programs have grown in popularity in both the public and commercial sectors.
Enhanced Detection of Vulnerabilities
The main advantage of a Bug Bounty Program is that the organization hosting it can find and patch a lot of vulnerabilities in its programs, preventing their exploitation by cybercriminals and averting severe harm.
The program increases the likelihood of discovering vulnerabilities, assisting in maintaining the company’s good name, and reducing high-value hacks.
Bug Bounty Program offer numerous opportunities for significant cost savings. First off, it is significantly less expensive to pay a bounty to discover a vulnerability than it is to try to fix a cybersecurity problem caused by that same weakness.
Even the most expensive bounties are frequently much less expensive than data breaches, though bounty values might vary.
Bug bounty schemes are ultimately far less expensive than paying for the same degree of security testing via contractors since corporations must pay the bug bounty hunters only if they find anything. Contractors must be paid by the hour whether or not they find anything.
Access to a Larger Talent Pool
Bug Bounty Programs provide business access to a larger talent pool that would otherwise be nearly hard to find internally.
The program’s members are highly competent and specialized in their respective industries, thus paying for them would probably be very expensive.
In contrast to a standard vulnerability scan or penetration test, a corporation can do vulnerability testing with the assistance of a bigger group of bug hunters with a variety of talents through a Bug Bounty Program.
Simulation of Realistic Threats
In essence, a corporation prefers to identify and address the vulnerabilities that malevolent attackers are most likely to exploit first. However, a variety of issues
can make it difficult for these activities in penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to be realistic.
Companies pay bug hunters to pose as cybercriminals for bug bounty schemes. Vulnerability assessments are more realistic than structured engagements since these bug hunters have the same amount of expertise about a firm as potential hackers.
Limitations of Bug Bounty Programs
Low Chances for Success and Income
Being the first to claim the reward and making a sizeable profit on the platform can be very difficult because many hackers take part in bug bounty schemes.
In reality, a hacker may spend weeks looking for a bug to use, only to become the second person to report it and not be able to profit from it.
A significant portion of participants on bug bounty sites has reportedly never sold a bug. Additionally, according to a 2019 analysis by HackerOne, just 2.5% of the platform’s 300,000+ registered users got a bounty for their use of the service.
It is obvious that few hackers are earning enough on these sites to support a full-time salary, and the majority are not earning much money at all.
Examples of Success and Correction
These programs are only useful if they help a business identify issues that it would not have discovered otherwise. Even if the problems are identified, the business still needs to come up with a fix.
A Bug Bounty Program is generally not the best option for a company if it cannot swiftly fix the identified problems and flaws.
Significantly More Unhelpful Alerts
Typically, contributions to Bug Bounty Programs are in high demand, although many of them might not be of the highest caliber.
As a result, a business must be prepared to handle the high frequency of alerts and the likelihood of receiving several useless notifications for each helpful one.
Choosing the Wrong or Less Talent
A program is more likely to fail if it cannot get enough participants or if the wrong skill sets are represented.
Less Attention Paid to OS Vulnerabilities
72 percent of bug reward participants, according to HackerOne, focus on website vulnerabilities, while only 3.5 percent concentrate on operating system (OS) vulnerabilities.
This might be a result of the high amount of expertise and specialization needed to hack the OS, including network hardware and memory. Therefore, bug bounties on websites alone have a sizable return on investment (ROI), as opposed to programs that would need specialist knowledge.
Since there is no assurance of when or if they will receive the reports, businesses that must urgently have an application or website reviewed for bugs within a certain time limit may not think it sensible to rely on a bug bounty.
At Stake : Public Reputation
Allowing outside researchers to try to break into a company’s network may lead to problems being made public. Sales will also decrease as a result, harming the company’s reputation in the public eye. Additionally, malevolent third parties will use such information to target the business.
Is Every Company a Good Fit for a Bug Bounty Program?
As this site has previously highlighted, not all businesses would profit from Bug Bounty Programs; as a result, not all businesses would be a good fit for these programs.
A company’s security program must first attain a particular level of maturity for this program to be effective.
It is critical for a business to understand whether it can address all vulnerabilities found. The company should generally avoid a Bug Bounty Program if the same cannot be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.
It is not a smart idea to start a bug bounty program if a firm is struggling to handle basic patch management or a variety of other identified issues because the volume of reports will place an additional burden on the business.
If there is no backlog of detected security vulnerabilities, remediation methods are in place for addressing identified security issues, and more complaints are investigated, the program will be advantageous to a corporation.
If a corporation does not learn from its errors, it will likely continue to make the same errors, which will lead to the same vulnerabilities again and over again, increasing the bug bounties swiftly.
It may have extremely specialized targets, such as network hardware or operating systems, which might not draw enough professionals to make the program worthwhile, which is another reason why it might not be a good fit for a corporation.
Finally, the quantity of highly qualified individuals is significantly influenced by the compensation or prestige granted for submitting bug reports for various companies.
For instance, identifying a bug for a well-known company may be more important or valuable than finding a bug for one that is less well-known.
Bug Bounty Program Alternatives
For businesses who cannot afford to implement a program to assure security or opt not to do so, the following alternatives are available:
Companies can implement a vulnerability disclosure program that offers a safe means of communication for researchers to inform them of any potential security flaws.
In this instance, paying the researchers is not required. Instead of the communications team, which could not fully appreciate the importance of the report, a recognized point of contact should be introduced for filtering requests instantly and sending them to the security team.
This promotes researchers to report vulnerabilities when they are discovered.
A structure that can handle the intake, mitigation, and remediation actions should be included at the point of contact. Additionally, businesses may contract with a penetration testing company to run a time-limited test on a particular system or application.
After the test, the pen testers will next write a report. The business can hire a reputable group of highly trained hackers for a set fee. If necessary, the company may also seek out any specialist knowledge and guarantee a private test rather than a public event.
If highly sensitive internal applications are being tested, businesses can require testers to sign nondisclosure agreements. It’s crucial to keep in mind that these alternatives typically involve a single event rather than a continuous payout.
In contrast to bug bounties, where incentives are paid only if a problem is successfully reported, penetration testers must be paid whether or not they discover any vulnerabilities.
While ethical hackers and Bug Bounty Programs can be quite effective at finding problems, these programs have also been criticized for being dubious. Some businesses offer private or invite-only programs to reduce the possible hazards of such programs.