Developers and technology builders need to build products that are highly secure and free from vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities include Data Security, Network Security Gaps, Buffer Overflow, or Broken Access Control. For any organization, it is challenging to keep the applications developed secure as hackers constantly try to slit through any possible security gaps that the developers may have missed.
Keeping an application or code safe requires constant supervision and monitoring. Many automated tools have been developed to identify and rectify the vulnerabilities, but they lack many aspects of manual testing.
To keep the security up to date, in 1995, Netscape started a bug bounty program which has been a go-to solution for organizations to keep their products secure from hackers and attackers.
What is a bug bounty program?
A bug bounty program or a Vulnerability Reward Program is providing monetary benefits to white hat hackers for finding and reporting a bug or vulnerability. The bug bounty rewards for bug reporting depend on the severity of the bugs. Many whitehat hackers work as full-time freelancers for organizations and take necessary actions on the programs to find bugs.
The hackers may also provide retesting where the codes are retested post-patching to ensure the rectification of bugs or vulnerabilities. Other than monetary incentives, organizations can also provide recognition to the hackers for finding and disclosing vulnerabilities.
How do bounty programs work?
Organizations set up bounty programs by outlining the scope that tells the developer which application, network, or system is available for the program. The scoop helps bug bounty hackers understand the expertise required for the bounty program and they can select which program they want to work on. Many organizations provide private bounty programs, with an invite-only approach. This approach gives control to the organizations over which hackers can work for finding bugs. These programs generally have database servers, private cloud environments, and Active Directory servers as the scope.
Private programs allow hackers to search for bugs in internal applications while public programs are focused on web servers, mobile apps, or public API libraries.
There are many advantages of bug bounty programs. The whitehat hackers work continuously to find the bugs as they have specialized expertise in it. Organizations can provide better services to users without any bugs. Furthermore, Hiring a testing team with different expertise is costly for organizations. With bug bounty programs, they can invite experts to search the bug and only pay when a bug is found.
Another reason bug bounty programs are a good investment is that paying hackers for the bugs they found and reported is much less than paying the malicious hackers after the attack.
Some Bug Bounty Programs Examples
Many tech giants like Google and Microsoft have released public bug bounty programs and have paid theft amounts to the hackers for reporting bugs.
In a recent case, Google paid ₹6.5 million to an Indore-based Aman Pandey to find 232 vulnerabilities in Android Operating System.
Researchers from around the world are invited to submit vulnerabilities in Microsoft domains and endpoints through the M365 Services Bounty Program. Qualified submissions are eligible for bounty rewards of $500 to $26,000 USD.
Bug Bounty program to find and resolve vulnerabilities is a great initiative by organizations towards better data and network security. Organizations should test and deploy all necessary actions before releasing a bug bounty program. Paying whitehat hackers for low-level vulnerabilities that could be found by the internal team can increase the project investment. The bounty programs should only be released when the product is tested and rectified on all levels internally.