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YesWeHack – 7 bug bounty misconceptions dispelled

Organisations sometimes express ill-founded concerns about the challenges and drawbacks of bug bounty programs.  

This crowdsourced security model, where ethical hackers earn financial rewards (bug bounties) for unearthing valid vulnerabilities in specific digital assets, are an increasingly popular alternative to penetration testing.

In this article we’ll bust some prevalent misconceptions about bug bounty, which arise from a failure to recognise the flexible, cost-effective and platform-driven nature of managed bug bounty programs.

Misconception #1: “Only large organisations should run bug bounty programs”

Bug bounty programs can be easily adapted to suit the circumstances of smaller businesses and enterprises alike.

Key parameters – namely in-scope assets, rules of engagement, bounty rewards and how many hackers (or ‘hunters’) are participating – can be continuously tweaked to align with your evolving security goals, budgetary constraints and capacity to remediate vulnerabilities.

What’s more, the pay-per-impact (or per-valid-bug) model maximises returns on investment – however modest.

Misconception #2: “I don’t have sufficient budget to pay hunters”

The average YesWeHack bounty is €440, so the five/six-figure payouts you read about in the security media are the exception not the norm.

And again, continuous optimisation of your rewards grid (and other variables) will keep you within budget and ensure a manageable pipeline of bugs to fix.

Misconception #3: “I don’t have enough time to manage a bug bounty program”

One YesWeHack client told us that a program managed on your behalf by a crowdsourced security platform is no more demanding than a typical pentest – and “a lot simpler to launch and monitor”.

A fully managed bug bounty program enables you to mostly focus on fixing qualifying vulnerabilities in your in-scope targets. This is because the bug bounty platform can handle many other tasks, including triage (interacting with hunters, evaluating bug severity and so on).

Misconception #4: “Ethical hackers cannot be entirely trusted” 

‘White hat’ hackers are your best defence against the ‘black hats’ that give hacking a bad reputation. And there’s no reason to mistrust them any more than you would an external pentester.

Indeed, at YesWeHack we thoroughly vet hunters and incentivise them to find and report bugs responsibly because doing so propels them up a leaderboard and unlocks invitations to lucrative private programs (public programs are open to all registered hunters).

Hunters also commit to shouldering legal responsibility for any liabilities arising from violations of your program rules.

Misconception #5: “Following up on bug reports will be too time-consuming”   

Monitoring and handling bug bounty reports should actually be quicker and easier than doing so for traditional pentests.

Reports are submitted in consistent formats and managed through a single, user-friendly interface, which also enables smooth, real-time communication with hunters. Integrations with other bug-tracking tools, meanwhile, facilitate automation and DevSecOps.

Misconception #6: “Our teams might be overwhelmed by bug reports”

Supported by the bug bounty platform, you should be able to easily fine-tune scopes, rewards and the number of participating hackers to ensure the volume of bug reports does not become an unmanageable deluge.

Most organisations start small and scale their program up gradually, at a pace that reflects the capacity of their IT, dev and security teams.

Misconception #7: “My organisation is not mature enough for bug bounty”

The inherent agility of the bug bounty model means a low level of security maturity is no barrier to launching a bug bounty program.

If your security team is small, and your applications unhardened by penetration testing, then a conservative configuration of your scopes, qualifying bugs, bounties grid and invited hunters will ensure your program can achieve your goals without overstretching your development and security teams.

Want to find out more about launching a bug bounty program?

YesWeHack can help you align security testing with your unique security goals and resource constraints, empower your teams to take ownership of security, and pay only for measurable results.

Visit our website to find out more about how YesWeHack can help you secure your growing attack surface and make sure to visit booth S18 to discuss with us about our Bug Bounty, VDP and Pentest Management platform.