What Is a Bug Bounty Platform?

A bug bounty platform is software that deploys and tracks a bug bounty program. A bug bounty is a reward that organizations offer to ethical hackers for discovering bugs concerning security. 

How Does a Bug Bounty Program Work?

Bug bounties help connect hackers who find vulnerabilities and an organization’s remediation team. A single bug bounty platform allows both parties to collaborate, communicate, and patch the bug quickly. Program managers track the program’s progress on the back-end, recording metrics like bounty payouts, number of vulnerabilities discovered, and average resolution time.

Before launching a bug bounty program, organizations set the program scope and determine whether it is private or public. Scope defines what systems are available for testing, how they will carry tests out, and how long the program will be open. 

Programs can be either public or private. Private programs allow organizations to build an invite-only program. Private programs are not visible to anyone online, with all reports remaining confidential. Most programs start private, with the option to go public when organizations decide they’re ready. 

Private programs help organizations pace their remediation efforts and avoid overwhelming their security teams with submissions. Some organizations prefer private programs because they allow greater discretion regarding security issues. Public programs can receive submissions from the entire hacker community, allowing all hackers to test an organization’s application. Because public programs are open, they often lead to a high number of submissions,

Businesses set the payout of each bounty based on the vulnerability’s criticality. Organizations that set higher bug bounties tend to receive more attention than lower-paying programs. Bounty rewards can range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, and, in some cases, millions. 

Bug bounty platforms like Shopify have paid out over a million dollars during the lifetime of their program. Even for smaller organizations, bug bounties offer a flexible and affordable solution for continuous security monitoring. Hackers aren’t only motivated by money. Many are also looking for recognition for their work, to network with peers, and to learn new skills. Bounty programs provide a social and professional element that attracts top-tier hackers who are looking for community and a challenge.

When a hacker discovers a bug, they submit a vulnerability disclosure report. This report outlines what systems the bug impacts, how developers can replicate the bug, and its severity level. These reports are sent directly to the remediation team that validates the bug and then queues it for patching. Once the team validates the bug, the hacker receives payment for their finding.

Why Use a Bug Bounty Program?

Before bug bounty programs, organizations relied on multiple tools and vendors to track remediation and attract talent. Today, bug bounty programs combine bug tracking, security reports, and integrated payment gateways to simplify the process.

Bounty programs naturally attract talented hackers who wish to test their skills and earn an income. Organizations attract hackers to test their systems using bounty programs without recruiters or additional marketing efforts

Bug Bounty Program Features

Bug bounty platforms combine different tools and functions to simplify the remediation process and track how well a company resolves vulnerabilities. 

Live Insights

Organizations can monitor every aspect of their program in real-time. From average remediation time to the number of paid bounties, these analytics help organizations prioritize risk while continuing to scale.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking helps organizations visualize the ROI of their program while comparing their performance to their peers. They can use benchmarking to compare their average remediation time with similar-sized organizations in their industry.

Hacker Retesting

When a patch deploys, developers can request a retest by the same hacker who discovered the flaw. This process ensures the hacker who found the bug can verify the fix.

Customizable Testing

No two organizations are the same, and security goals can shift at a moment’s notice. Bug bounty platforms offer customizable models to suit an organization’s security culture. Time-bound programs help refine scope, while private invite-only programs keep reports confidential.

Additional Support

Some bug bounty platforms offer additional services to complement programs, like triage, by working with security teams to accelerate remediation to minimize attack vectors and patch bugs.

How HackerOne Can Help

HackerOne Bounty bridges the gap between vulnerability discovery, remediation, and retesting in a single easy-to-use platform. And at HackerOne organizations work with the world’s largest and most diverse community of hackers in the world. Contact us to learn more. 

Posted by Charlie