In an age when technology is advancing with an unprecedented pace, changing the cyber world as we know it, companies and businesses are in desperate need of modern solutions to ensure their cyber security. In this climate, crowd-sourced solutions, like bug bounty programs, are appearing on this landscape as the best choice. But what are the benefits of bug bounty programs for ethical hackers and organizations?
While bug bounty benefits are undeniable, the program may not be the ideal option in certain enterprise security management strategies. In this blog, we’ll address all questions regarding what a bug bounty program is, whether it will address your unique needs, and how your company can benefit from it.
What Is Bug Bounty?
A bug bounty program is the most comprehensive solution for organizations with a relatively mature posture that are looking to further advance their security. In this solution, companies and businesses invite ethical hackers and security experts from all fields and expertise to examine a scope, find all the security flaws, and put forward practical solutions in exchange for a reward. These rewards vary, ranging from 50 euros to 10,000 euros and more, based on the validity and severity of the detected bugs.
When properly implemented, bug bounty programs present the perfect opportunity for ethical hackers to use their unique capabilities to hunt security vulnerabilities and for businesses to fortify their security posture. In this sense, a bug bounty is mutually beneficial for both sides, a win-win strategy, if you will. Read more about What Is Bug Bounty & How Does It Work HERE.
What Are the Different Types of Bug Bounty Programs?
There are 2 main modes for bug bounty programs: public and private. A private bug bounty program allows for more control and efficiency as there will be a limited number of bug hunters testing your security posture, enabling you to manage the process in a more effective manner. Hence, a private program is the preferred option for most businesses.
However, a public Bug Bounty program would make the project available to thousands of bug hunters who are ceaselessly trying to identify bugs, which could potentially overwhelm a company that is not yet prepared for large-scale simulated attacks. Therefore, it is the perfect choice for businesses with a relatively mature security posture to manage the identified vulnerabilities.
Why & When Do You Need Bug Bounty Programs
In the dangerous realm of cybercrime, there are thousands of criminals who are, day in day out, trying to exploit vulnerabilities and security flaws. Any of the cybersecurity bugs detected by them can result in different forms of data breach and significant damages. As brands grow in the industry, it becomes more likely for them to be impacted by cyber threats. This is where solutions like bug bounty come into play.
Running a bug-hunting program enables businesses to find all the bugs and flaws that have been hidden from sight despite all the pentests and scans. Eliminating these bugs at an early stage will help organizations limit the damage and cut down on the substantial expenses that would burden the businesses if these flaws were detected by criminals. So, from a higher viewpoint, bug bounty programs can put obstacles in front of cyber criminals and prevent the expensive consequences of cyber attacks.
That is why, bug bounties are one of the best programs to ensure that most of the security vulnerabilities are identified and resolved, clearing the path for a highly mature security posture that can’t be easily exploited.
Bear in mind that there’s a huge difference between bug bounty and crowd-sourced pentest. That is, bug bounty benefits businesses whose security levels are relatively robust due to previous pentests and effective security measures they have taken. And, in case you haven’t yet run crowd-sourced pentests and are not sure where you stand with your security posture, it’s best to leave bug bounty for the right time.
As you have already figured out, a bug bounty program provides a number of benefits for organizations as well as security testers. So, let’s dive into all the benefits of bug bounty.
Top 12 Bug Bounty Benefits for Organizations
Some companies and businesses are still wondering whether bug bounty can optimize their security status. Despite evidence to the contrary, some are even concerned about the reliability of ethical hackers behind bug bounty programs. It’s time we put an end to all such concerns once and for all.
So, let’s see how bug bounties help businesses and security experts at the same time.
#1 Improved Vulnerability Detection
The confidential data and digital assets of all organizations must be protected to guarantee that unauthorized users cannot exploit them in any way. That’s why offering improved vulnerability detection is one of the most important benefits of bug bounty programs for both small and large organizations.
After starting bug bounties, experienced ethical hackers and data security testers will scrutinize your digital assets to detect which weaknesses in your IT infrastructure can cause future issues for your business. And finally, you will benefit from the reports that outline all the security bugs with their severity level, exploitation process, and remediation resources. This inventory of vulnerabilities will help your IT and development team act on effective solutions.
#2 Access to a Large Pool of Expertise
Bug bounties allow access to a large crowd of security experts and ethical hackers eager to use their technical expertise and knowledge to report bugs and their corresponding solutions. Some of these professionals have software development backgrounds, and some others have focused on network administration, IOT, data storage, and other fields.
This access to a variety of skills and expertise, which is non-existent in traditional penetration tests and many other solutions, means that many of your deeply buried vulnerabilities will be finally identified and resolved.
#3 Realistic Threat Simulation
One of the most significant bug bounty benefits is its realistic nature. The biggest challenge that in-house cyber security teams encounter is the lack of realistic threat detection and attack simulation. That is because data security testers have prior knowledge about your systems, and it doesn’t make sense to assign them to bug detection processes.
When you want to test your systems and address all weaknesses and vulnerabilities, however, it is best to leave the assessment to bug hunters who will act exactly like a cybercriminal with the same level of knowledge about your systems. The realistic nature of bug bounties helps you prepare for a real attack and prevent the damage caused by vulnerabilities that would negatively impact your security posture if they went unnoticed.
#4 Reduced Attack Surface & Risk Exposure
Reducing the risks and consequences of a real cyber attack comes as a result of a realistic attack simulation. When a bug bounty is implemented properly, it resembles a security attack and helps you find the pain points and lock the doors against all cybercriminals. As a result, you can handle your zero-day vulnerabilities and other security holes in the early stages before they are exploited.
#5 Understanding the Complete Cyber Kill Chain
Cyber Kill Chain (CKC), or cyberattack lifecycle, is a security defense model developed to identify and prevent sophisticated cyber attacks before they can take root and damage systems. Simply put, the cyber kill chain maps out the various phases of a cyber attack, detects weaknesses, and assists security teams in preventing the attack at each step of the process.
As a result, using a cyber kill chain framework can help your organization to better understand related threats and increase the security level of your IT infrastructure. And cyber kill chains that are empowered by bug bounty programs allow enterprises to be prepared and stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
#6 Cost & Time Efficiency
Did you know that the expenses associated with the aftermath of a cyberattack exceed 3 million dollars?! That is the expensive cost of ignoring vulnerabilities and bugs. And one of the best benefits of bug bounty is that it reduces your costs by a large margin, not just by resolving your security flaws but by offering a solution that is quite cost-effective in comparison.
In a bug bounty program, your primary expense is for the reward allocated to the severity of bugs that will be detected by bug hunters. So, you can assign a few rewards to low-risk and more for high-risk security vulnerabilities, and you will pay the prize if vulnerabilities with such severity are identified in your security system. Compared to hiring in-house security staff or outsourcing to pentesting agencies, bug bounties can be more cost-effective in case of a security-matured company.
In simpler words, when you run a bug bounty program, you will experience an incredibly high return on security investment. That’s because the amount of money you pay for the program and the rewards is next to nothing when compared to the amount you would need to spend if there was a breach!
Apart from the costs, your next most important resource is your time. And bug bounties’ return on investment also involves the amount of time you’ll be able to save for identifying and resolving security bugs.
#7 Continuous Testing for Strength
While the company decides when to stop or start the program, one of the most effective bug bounty benefits is that you can try continuous testing for one or multiple scopes to make sure that your security level lives up to the standards at all times.
This continuous testing, although optional, aims to assess your security posture during different phases of development, and it promises to deliver the necessary information regularly and immediately. This means that you will be constantly informed of your vulnerabilities and their solutions, which makes you more resilient against cyberattacks.
#8 Threats Triage
Not understanding where to start and what vulnerability is of greater importance and consequence can cause a lot of confusion for the development team. This, in turn, will lead to cyber security budget loss and irreparable damage to digital assets.
However, in a professional bug bounty service like Nordic Defender, the result of a bug bounty program comes out regularly and in a downloadable report with prioritized threats and their required course of action. Hence, your team of technical experts will be provided with labeled bugs that can guide them through the process, showing them what urgent bug they should start with and how they should mitigate it.
#9 Easy Integration
Some bug bounty programs can be easily integrated with Gira or Gitlab, facilitating the process of conveying instant results to your development team. Nordic Defender’s bug bounty is a great case in point.
This solution allows for easy integration with tools like Gitlab and Gira, which enables you to quickly share the findings and validated reports as tickets for your development team. This will speed up the process of resolving security holes and bugs as soon as they’re identified.
#10 No Time Limitations
You can launch bug bounty programs any time you feel the need and with any special requirements and rules that you’d like to specify. You won’t have to wait for a bug bounty to end to be able to launch a new one, either. If at any point, you feel that your security posture demands a bug bounty on another scope, you can always develop the policy and start it!
The reward-based nature of this solution accounts for yet another benefit of bug bounty programs for both businesses and security experts. The fact that identifying urgent vulnerabilities in the defined scope will earn rewards for the bug hunters who take part in the program makes the solution all the more effective.
The incentive hackers will receive pushes them towards employing all their skills and power to make sure they qualify for earning the prize. And it also means that every possible aspect of the scope will be thoroughly inspected, which will, as a result, make the security posture of the target more robust.
#12 Simple Implementation & Setup
This does not ring true for every bug bounty program. However, launching Nordic Defender’s Bug Bounty solution makes the implementation process a lot easier. As a modern Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP), Nordic Defender is focused on delivering the most effective Bug Bounty program that meets all your needs and concerns. With a 24/7 available technical team to help define the policy and implement the process, starting a bug bounty program would no longer pose a challenge.
Considering the plus side, companies of all sizes and industries should embrace the power of bug bounty programs to deploy a protected shield on their IT infrastructures.
FAQs on the Benefits of Bug Bounty
So far, we’ve covered what a bug bounty program is. Now, it’s time to see what people ask about bug bounty benefits.
1- Are Bug Bounty Programs Costly?
In short, no! Running bug bounties is a very reasonable solution. If your cybersecurity status is robust enough, identifying vulnerabilities will be challenging for the ethical hackers. And once the bugs are found, the reward you will pay is insignificant compared to the money you would need to spend on the negative consequences of a data breach. So, these programs pay off at the right time with a lot of benefits.
2- What Is the Difference Between VDP & Bug Bounty?
What VDP and bug bounty solutions have in common is that they both open doors for ethical hackers to find vulnerabilities and report back. However, a VDP is different in that it doesn’t promise a specific prize or bounty but provides a safe environment for experts to report security bugs.
So, in a bug bounty program, the testers are paid the reward. But in a VDP, the organization just prepares the ground for receiving reports. In exchange, the company can pay a certain amount or just show appreciation by sending out gifts!
To get more information, you can also check out our blog on what a VDP is.
A bug bounty program also called a vulnerability rewards program (VRP), is a crowdsourcing initiative that helps organizations discover security bugs and prevent their destructive impacts. In this blog, we covered the various benefits of bug bounty programs.