Bug Bounty

IT Security flaws should not be seen as shameful but as a source of inspiration to build more robust defences. One of these defences is with Bug Bounty.

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Keeping an eye on unknown
vulnerabilities with a Bug Bounty Program

Vulnerabilities are an integral component of software. A program can be built with an endless number of protections and security measures, but there will always be some form of weakness. The builders are just human after all. These security flaws should not be seen as shameful but as a source of inspiration to build more robust defences.

Setting up a bug bounty program can be an incredible asset to your organisation. By setting up relations with researchers, you build a team that works towards helping you be as secure as possible while keeping an eye on your vulnerabilities. During a bug bounty program, you get insights into how you can improve the security of your system or software.

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What is a Bug Bounty?

A bug bounty refers to the reward offered for vulnerabilities discovered within a set scope. A bug bounty program is a competition in which researchers are invited to look for and disclose any weaknesses in online or network environments. For each unique and valid bug found, the hacker receives a prize (bounty) based on the severity of the weakness. Bug Bounty Programs have become more popular as an added asset to IT security.

What is a Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure Policy?

What types of bug bounty programs are there?

There are two categories of bug bounty programs: public and private. 

Public bug bounty programs are open to everyone. This type might yield the best results: it attracts a considerable amount and wide variety of ethical hackers or researchers. However, the experience of these researchers varies and their background is not checked.

In private bug bounty programs, organisations invite researchers to participate. This grants you the control and the organisation to effectively identify and fix vulnerabilities. Researchers are often experienced, well known and vetted security professionals.

What’s the difference between a Bug Bounty Program and a Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (CVD)?

Bug bounty programs and CVD do not compete. CVD allows for easier disclosures of vulnerabilities from external parties, which plays nicely into the core of bug bounty programs. CVD is a passive agreement which results in vulnerabilities being discovered and disclosed without punishment, while bug bounty programs ask researchers to find vulnerabilities and get paid for disclosing them, also without punishment. In a way, a bug bounty is a form of CVD which more directly motivates reporters to find and disclose vulnerabilities. 

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What are the advantages of a Bug Bounty Program?

There are several advantages of a Bug Bounty Program.

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A continuous solution for a continuously changing world

Nowadays, software is released almost continuously. This is great for business and boosts company responsiveness, but can leave the software not fully tested. Bug bounty programs are a solution for this. They offer a continuous way to test your system, regardless of how fast you release software.

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Lower costs

Bug bounty programs, compared to other traditional security breach tests, pay per vulnerability rather than per the amount of time spent finding it. This helps save on money spent finding the problems and allows for more capital to be invested in forming a solution. In addition, paying per vulnerability motivates researchers to follow a trail to its end and may result in more complicated and sophisticated finds.

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Beat the bad guys

A team of researchers can produce a more extensive and impactful list of bugs in a shorter time than a developer or security team because of the ability to increase size. Adding more researchers is easy and efficient, letting the good guys find the bugs before the bad guys do.

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Train as you go

During a successful bug bounty program, you will get reports on your system’s most significant and, sometimes, smallest vulnerabilities. With those reports, developer and security teams can refine and polish the system to remove those vulnerabilities. While fixing those weaknesses, your teams will also get additional experience and training on what to pay attention to next time they update or add to the system.

How do I set up a Bug Bounty Program?

Setting up a bug bounty program can be a very daunting task. A few tricks to help you start a bug bounty program:

Start your own Bug Bounty Program with Zerocopter

Starting a bug bounty program can sometimes be difficult, however. You need to make sure that your systems are refined enough to make the program cost-effective, and you should have a well-developed team to process your incoming vulnerability reports. But the advantages of learning where you might be vulnerable from more creative sources make it all worth it.

It doesn’t even have to be difficult. At Zerocopter, we help you organise and simplify your bug bounty program so that you get the most successful and efficient program possible. With our team of researchers, we provide you with the platform and interface to strengthen your security systems, while paying out researchers and organising your vulnerability reports.

How do I manage reports coming in via a Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure Policy?
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