Bug Bounty Programs: Benefits and Challenges
“Typically, there are two types of companies. The ones that have been hacked and those that do not even know they’ve been hacked”, says John Chambers.
Cybercrime has never been a greater threat to businesses than it is today. Companies are constantly under threat from cybercriminals, no matter what industry they are in. For the past few years, Security incidents have been an integral part of headlines, and companies across a variety of industries have invested a great deal of time and resources into mitigating vulnerabilities to prevent security breaches. According to Mordor Intelligence, Cybercrimes cost the world nearly $600 billion each year.
A certain fact to keep in mind is that cybercrime is a human-caused issue. For many years, cybersecurity has been a battle between technology, as the defender, and human intelligence, as the attacker.
It’s probably not hard to guess who has won most of the time, isn’t it?
If you believe that hiring an expert and relying on technology will keep you ahead of cybercriminals, you might be in for some bad news.
In recent years, bug bounties have gained significant popularity. Given the Shortage of qualified security staff and the increasing gap of cybersecurity skills, many organizations have turned to bug bounty programs to enhance their breach prevention efforts beyond their own internal capabilities.
Wondering how bug bounties impact the security of your organization? Read on to learn more.
What Is a Bug Bounty?
A bug bounty is an innovative approach to system and application security where companies invite ethical hackers to analyze their systems for vulnerabilities. These programs are designed as a reward-based crowdsourced security testing solution in which ethical hackers are rewarded for successfully finding and reporting vulnerabilities to the company that has been breached. The concept of bug bounty has been around for many years and has been adopted by many large companies such as Microsoft, which has awarded $13.6M in bug bounties to more than 340 security researchers in 58 countries over the past year.
The effectiveness of a bug bounty program is rooted in its proactive, predictive nature.
Many software and configuration errors fail to be detected by developers and security teams. Bug bounty programs enable organizations to identify these vulnerabilities before they turn into big problems, allowing ethical hackers to earn money and points towards their rankings in exchange for finding vulnerabilities and offering detailed instructions on how to resolve them.
Bug Bounty Programs: Benefits Pay Off
In the world of traditional penetration testing, the obligation to meet compliance requirements can create a culture of fear. Bug bounties, however, aim to create a culture of openness, transparency, and responsibility. Curious people can express their knowledge and curiosity in a legal and positive way through these programs, making them very beneficial to organizations.
Crowd-sourcing does the trick
Every bug bounty program might involve hundreds or even thousands of researchers working in parallel. Rather than hiring one tester, a variety of skills, techniques, and mindsets will be used in order to identify vulnerabilities. That’s the trick. Casting more eyes on something, will lead to more discoveries!
A bigger bang for your buck
Hiring a good penetration tester can cost you a fortune. In addition, the assessment results are not guaranteed to be valuable and accurate, and regardless of the findings and the severity of them, you still have to pay the price. The case is different with bug bounties. The cost of bug bounty programs can vary, depending on your budget and the expectations you have from the researchers. In this case, you directly pay for what you get. Duplicates of the same bug will not be charged and depending on the importance of the findings, you can decide how much to pay. It’s your call, but the more budget you put in, the more effort people will put into their work. Simply put, you get the best result you can afford.
Rules are yours to make
Basically, bug bounties simplify the legal and procurement processes of traditional penetration testing, making it easier to obtain your customized assessment program. Depending on the specific needs and preferences of your organization, you can customize your bug bounty program. you can specify off-limit areas, dates of the tests, certain types of vulnerabilities you want the testers to test along and how far they should go.
Bug Bounty Challenges: Final Advice
Bug bounty programs are valuable tools for risk assessment. However, the key is to be thoughtful in how you design and implement them to avoid any potential risk.
Contractual and legal requirements, types of information and other obligations vary from company to company. Therefore, it is crucial to create rules and define the parameters, before diving into the program. You need to clearly define the authorized conduct framework, determine what proof is required to confirm a hack, and how that information should be shared. This is something you should take very seriously and not compromise on.
Additionally, it’s not realistic to expect a bug bounty program to replace your 24/7 monitoring system. Almost every solid security strategy relies on continuous monitoring to constantly detect new vulnerabilities. To maintain safety and protection, these programs should be considered as an additional approach to your regular monitoring measures.
It is also not recommended to use bug bounty programs as an additional layer of protection. These programs are designed to find vulnerabilities, much like penetration tests. They do not prevent the exploitation of vulnerabilities, nor do they fix it. Therefore, no bug bounty will ever replace your Web Application Firewall, no matter how well managed it is.
Generally speaking, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the numerous security challenges that companies face today. Rather, there should be a well-reasoned conclusion, typically based on the ever-evolving technologies.
bug bounties play a key role in modern security. They are effective when used thoughtfully and professionally, and their benefits clearly outweigh the challenges they come with. Reacting to cybercrimes after they have occurred will not suffice. Cybercrime is all over the news every day, affecting companies large and small. Bug bounty programs are one of the most effective ways to get your business away from the headlines.
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