Last years, a record number of data breaches made the US companies panic. Malicious intruders were able to perform more than 1,500 attacks and endangered approximately 180 million customer accounts.
According to the 2017 Ponemon Institute paper, the average time between the breach and its detection is 191 days. This delay leads to considerable losses. a is why detecting the security flaw before someone would exploit it is better than dealing with breach consequences.
Big IT companies often hire security professionals to handle their system and find weak spots. However, the number of competent experts in the field is low and does not cover the demand for them. This makes this option cost-inefficient in most cases.
So, is there any other way to find weaknesses in your system and protect it from hacking? Actually, there is, and it is getting more and more popular. What we mean is a bug bounty program. So, let’s take a closer look at how it works and find out how you can implement it.
Bug Bounty Programs
Even if you’ve never heard about the bug bounty program, you can definitely guess the main idea behind it. Basically, you open your product for hacking attacks, and you reward the assailants for finding and disclosing the flaws in your system.
The first program of such kind was created in the early 1980s. However, it wasn’t popular and widespread for a long time. Recently, the program has resurged thanks to the growing trust between companies and their communities and the increasing threat of cyber attacks.
The program is profitable both for the platform and for the bounty hunters. It allows an experienced hacker to earn money and to be recognized as a valuable asset. So, if you think that such a program suits your project, let’s take a closer look at how to create bug bounty program.
How to Create Bounty Programs for Your Product
Creating a bug bounty program is not a simple task, especially if you’re new to the industry. There are two general ways you can approach it. Firstly, you can build it with your own team from scratch. It would require a lot of time, effort, experience and connections. The other option is to use the services of a specialized platform that can help you build a tailored solution for all your needs.
No matter which one you choose, creating a bounty program can be broken down into two main stages.
1. Setting up a Vulnerability Disclosure Program (VDS)
You would be surprised to learn how many people make hunting for bugs their hobby. The problem is, even when they find a flaw, they aren’t always able to report it. In some even more frustrating cases, the company can sue one of these good Samaritans for a security attack.
So, before setting a reward, you should create a well-thought-out VDS. Make a detailed form for a bug report, consider providing the anonymous submission option and set up a hall of fame to encourage volunteers.
2. Setting up a Bounty Scheme
There are a couple of ways to carry out this stage too. Firstly, you can post your bounty publicly. This will lead to a surge of people with and without a proper qualification looking for vulnerabilities. The bigger the prize is, the more attackers you will draw in.
The second way is to set the reward privately, informing only professionals about it. This is the way bounty platforms use, and it is a much more concise, targeted approach. In this case, you will get less false alarms and you won’t need to deal with a pile of messages.
Tips and Tricks for a Bug Hunter
Any experienced bug hunter has a couple of tricks up his or her sleeve. Most platforms require a unique approach to be able to breach it. However, there are several general tips a bug hunter should be aware of:
- Study every part of the platform before you attempt to breach it;
- Learn about its basics – you need to understand how the platform works if you want to find a flaw in it;
- Be a part of the community – although some of these people are your direct competitors, you can learn a lot from them;
- Practice makes perfect – try again and again, be persistent, and you will get your success.
What Size Should the Reward Be?
Another question closely related to how to set up a bug bounty program is how big the vulnerability bounty should be. The answer depends on a number of factors, like:
- The complexity of the bug;
- The severity of consequences if the bug wasn’t fixed;
- An estimated number of flaws;
- Your budget.
All in all, it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific sum or a formula for its calculation. The best way is to determine the maximum amount you’re ready to pay for revealing a platform-breaking bug and the minimum sum to pay for finding a minor flaw (usually around $100).
How Can a Bounty Program Help Your Business?
Inviting hackers to attack your system and paying money for their success seems somewhat counterintuitive. Nevertheless, there are multiple reasons why you should set up a bounty program. Here are only some of them:
- Saving resources – you and your team will be able to concentrate on improving your product and fixing the issues instead of looking for them;
- Building a closer relationship with your community – by setting up a bounty program, you’re telling people that you have flaws, but you’re ready to improve. This humanizes your company and lets people be a part of it;
- Creating a reputation of a secure brand – if your clients know that you regularly improve your security, they will also be sure that your product is safe.
5 Most Popular Bug Bounty Programs and Platforms
Now it’s time to take a look at the bug bounty platform list that includes the most popular and prosperous programs out there.
Minimal reward: no fixed amount
Maximal reward: $200,000
In the beginning, the Apple bounty program was open to only 24 participants. By the end of 2016, it expanded massively, encouraging people to join to get some of the highest rewards on the market. Of course, the highest payout is guaranteed for the most laborious task – finding flaws in firmware.
Minimal reward: $500
Maximal reward: $30,000
The next on our program list, Intel bug bounty program does not include their third-party products. Still, it covers most of the company’s products – software, firmware, and hardware. They are strong supporters of collective security efforts and they are transparent about their policies and philosophy.
HackerOne is a bug bounty platform. It is known for helping some of the biggest companies on the market (Google, Snapchat etc). This is your choice if you need a personalized solution or you want to be private about it.
Minimal reward: $500
Maximal reward: no fixed amount
This corporation is worth your attention because it has a bounty program available for all of its products, from Atlas to Facebook itself. However, they are still social media platforms with tons of personal information. So, some parts of the platforms are out of bounds for bug hunters.
All in all, a bug bounty program is a profitable system both for your company and your customers. It’s a great way to improve your security while saving time, money and effort. Besides, it’s an excellent way to help ethical hackers earn some extra cash or even make a living.
So, if you want to improve your product and keep it safe, set up a bounty program as soon as possible! Write us an email or submit a form on our website, and we will help you do this right away.