How to run a bug bounty program in 10 steps

How to Run a Bug Bounty Program in 10 Steps

With each passing day, as technology advances, cybercriminals become more equipped than ever to exploit vulnerabilities and break into your network. Starting with proactive solutions, like bug bounty, can help safeguard your digital assets and fortify your cybersecurity posture. In this climate, learning how to run a bug bounty program must be a priority for any business or organization. 

Despite the fact that many successful companies have tried and tested bug bounty as a means to improve their cybersecurity status, some are new to the idea and can’t help wondering what is bug bounty? So, as a first step to mastering how to run a bug bounty program, let’s start with a definition and take it from there!

What Is a Bug Bounty Program?

A bug bounty program is a cybersecurity solution where the company calls out security experts and hackers to test a defined scope in their cybersecurity posture to detect vulnerabilities. In exchange for the identified security bugs, the ethical hackers will receive rewards or bounties. 

While many organizations would prefer in-house security teams, there are always forward-thinking businesses that seek modern solutions like next-gen penetration tests and bug bounties!

Now, what is the purpose of a bug bounty?! In effect, a bug bounty program is the acid test of a cybersecurity posture; it is the ultimate solution for companies and businesses that have arrived at a relatively robust security posture but want to take further measures to fix the remaining bugs. The countless benefits of running a bug bounty solution enable organizations to mitigate their seucrity vulnerabilities and bugs in a timely and effective manner!

How Many Types of Bug Bounties Are There?

Moving on from the definition of bug bounty programs, there are usually two variations for a bug bounty: private and public. 

A private bug bounty program involves a limited number of ethical hackers starting a simulated attack on your security. This means that you will receive fewer reports and have more time to handle the vulnerabilities. 

In a public bug bounty, however, a large crowd of security experts, unfiltered by their skills or expertise, will start inspecting the defined scope. Since a larger number of hackers are at work, you’re bound to receive many more security vulnerability reports, which means that you will need a group of developers to get down to fixing the issues. Eventually, it comes down to your priorities and security posture to understand which program is best for you!

Now, let’s go through the steps you need to follow for launching a bug bounty program!

How to Run a Bug Bounty Program

Launching a bug bounty solution may be quite challenging and overwhelming, especially for businesses that can’t afford to employ several technical experts to fix the detected security vulnerabilities. Starting a bug bounty with a modern, crowd-sourced solution that takes care of every step of the process, however, can facilitate the whole process.

 In the following section, we’ll learn how to run a bug bounty program in 10 practical steps!

#1 Find the Best Bug Bounty Platform

Handling the aftermath of a bug bounty, including the reports’ validation process and the payments, through hiring more in-house security staff or technical experts is a viable option yet it can be quite costly. However, instead of spending the company’s invaluable resources of time and money, you can always rely on bug bounty platforms to help you manage the whole process. But, what is the best bug bounty program?!

Some of the most important factors to consider before starting with a bug bounty program is ensuring that the platform offers flexibility both in terms of budgeting and meeting your specific needs. Plus, an all-round bug bounty platform should also take care of the complicated process of specifying the policy, tailoring the solution to your security requirements, and guiding you through the whole process. 

Nordic Defender as the one and only crowd-sourced, centralized cybersecurity solution provider in the Nordics, offers Fully-Managed and Standard Bug Bounty programs to help you draw up your bug bounty policy, tailor the solution to your unique security needs, allocate flexible budget to your cybersecurity, choose between private and public programs, and start the process. Not to mention that the team of experts are always available to address your concerns and questions!

So, in case you’re wondering how to manage a bug bounty solution without the unbelievable costs that come with hiring new staff, don’t hesitate to contact Nordic Defender’s team of experts!

#2 Define the Scope & Property

One of the very first steps you need to take before running the bug bounty program is to specify the scope and properties (websites, applications, etc.) that should be inspected. In other words, you should define what is off-limits for ethical hackers and what they can inspect! This would help you gain control over the security vulnerabilities that you’re most focused on or the ones that matter most.

Drawing up your bug bounty policy and ensuring that it encompasses all your rules and limitations can be time-consuming. Starting with Nordic Defender’s Bug Bounty program, you will have access to experts who will guide you through your bug bounty policy and rules. 

But bear in mind that while you can limit the bug bounty scope, it might not always be an ideal approach. Cybercriminals imagine no limits for their malicious activities, and they don’t wait around for you to attack one aspect of your system. So, if you have the groundwork,  leaving all aspects open to ethical hackers will help you reduce your attack surface more efficiently and quickly. 

#3 Specify the Rewards

The motivation for most ethical hackers who join the program is to receive the bounty! So, make sure you’re clear on the rewards you’d like to put aside for vulnerabilities of different severity level. 

The rewards you will attribute to each bug can range anywhere between 50 to over 100,000 euros! For finding low-severity bugs, you can pay as low as 50 euros and increase the amount for more critical vulnerabilities and flaws. When deciding on the rewards amount, make sure that the balance between how complex the defined target is and the reward is maintained. This way, you can ensure that hackers are engaged and motivated enough to take action. 

#4 Choose Between a Public & Private Program

Learning how to run a bug bounty program also comes with its difficult choices and decisions! Your next step is to decide on whether a private bug bounty program is the ideal for your security posture or a public one. 

If you haven’t launched a bug bounty program before and don’t know whether you can handle large-scale attacks and several vulnerability reports, make sure you start with the more controlled option of a private program. 

After running private programs, your security maturity level will mature enough and you will be more prepared to handle attacks on a larger scale and mitigate attacks in a more time-efficient manner. This would enable you to move on to a public bug bounty and gain reputation as a company that invests in cyber security and ensuring the privacy and protection of the clients’ confidential data. 

#5 Prepare a Legal & Monitoring Team

One of the most important bug bounty requirements is having a legal as well as a monitoring team. The legal team would help you draw up the bug bounty policy and the contract with hackers while the monitoring team will observe the process to make sure everything pans out without any problems or negative consequences. 

Launching a bug bounty in a modern platform like Nordic Defender’s Bug Bounty means that all these requirements are already met by the platform. That’s because with Nordic Defender, a team of experts will be there to guide you through the bug bounty policy, and once the reports start coming in, the team of moderator will be validating each vulnerability and its severity. This means that you can avoid the outrageous costs of hiring technical staff or the concern over legal matters by simply entrusting the process to a modern solution. 

#6 Raise Awareness About the Bug Bounty

Whether you’re doing a vulnerability disclosure program or a bug bounty, the ethical hackers must be informed in order to start reporting any bugs and vulnerabilities. So, to learn how to run a bug bounty program, you should first find out how you can let the experts know! Most websites announce the launch on their websites and social media accounts.

Bear in mind that using crowd powered platforms like Nordic Defender’s bug bounty will invite ethical hackers and security experts on your behalf! That is, you won’t have to ask strangers on social media to start a simulated attack on your network and digital assets. Instead, Nordic Defender will call upon its vast pool of trustworthy experts to take care of the job for you. 

#7 Receive Bug Reports

Once you’ve taken the previous steps, security experts will start examining the defined scope and finding vulnerabilities. Should you choose to try a private program, a group of few hundred ethical hackers will be on your project, and if you choose for the public solution, your project will be open to every ethical hacker in the crowd.

At any rate, this is the point where security vulnerability reports start coming in! If you prefer to start on your own, make sure that you have a monitoring team in place so that they can go through the submitted reports, categorize bugs according to priority, check out the remediation process, and manage the whole process. 

On the other hand, fully managed services like Nordic Defender come with a team of professional moderators who will be in charge of this process, which means that they will gather the bugs, and classify them!

#8 Validate Securtiy Vulnerabilities

Whether you’re using bug bounty platforms or not, all the security reports must pass the standards of a moderating or monitoring team. This helps ensure the developer team that the bugs are actually there and prioritized based on their severity so they won’t be wasting their time chasing nothing.

Hiring staff for the time-consuming process is not ideal especially if you’re on a budget. Nordic Defender’s bug bounty program also encompasses a team of moderators who will go over the received reports, verify the validity and severity of each security vulnerability, remove the duplicate bugs, and check for the remediation process included in the report.

#9 Pay the Rewards

The best part for the ethical hackers is recieving their reward for all the time and energy they put into helping you build a more secure environment! So, once you’re sure about the security vulnerabilities, you should start paying those who have found them!

The payment process is extremely easy when it is handled by bug bounty platforms like Nordic Defender as the reward policy has already been specified for both sides, and the bug bounty hunters will also be paid by the bug bounty provider. The best part is that companies can rest assured that they will receive verified security bugs in the defined scope and the bug hunters are also ensured that their efforts won’t go unnoticed or uncompensated. 

#10 Mitigate the Secuirty Vulnerabilities

Now that you know exactly what is wrong with your cybersecurity posture, you should start resolving the issues! Make sure that your security vulnerabilities are resolved fast because if cybercriminals figure out your security holes, then it will be too late!

One of the best ways to speed up the process is to launch Nordic Defender’s Bug Bounty because the results can be easily transferred to Jira and Github where your development team can easily access all the vulnerabilities and their remediation. 

If you have any question about how to run a bug bounty program, don’t forget to contact the experts in the field. They are always ready to address your questions. 

How Does a Bug Bounty Program Work?

In short, a bug bounty solution is a win-win strategy where companies get to know their remaining vulnerabilities and security experts get to show off their hacking skill and get rewarded!

The whole process can be wrapped up in 6 easy steps if you launch Nordic Defender’s Bug Bounty:

  • Defining the bug bounty scope, policy, and reward with the help of the support team,
  • Deciding on a public or a private bug bounty program, 
  • Inviting specific skills or opening the doors to a crowd of ethical hackers, 
  • Having the moderator team validate the submitted reports, 
  • Paying the rewards promised to the security experts,
  • Integrating the results into Gira & Github,

And you’re done!

FAQ on How to Run a Bug Bounty Program

So far, you have mastered every step on starting a bug bounty program. Now, it’s time to move on to the frequently asked questions!

1- Who Pays for Bug Bounties?

An organization or business might decide to use the help of security bug hunters to start an inspection on a scope of their cybersecurity. So, the company that launches the bug bounty is responsible for the rewards as well!

If you start with a managed bug bounty program, as provided by Nordic Defender, you can enjoy the luxury of leaving the payment process to the platform. 

2- What Are the Challenges of Bug Bounty?

Initially, you must consider that running a bug bounty for a company that hasn’t tested its security maturity before is a mistake! The whole process will be counterproductive because too many security vulnerabilities will be detected which means that you will need to pay a considerable amount of money. Besides, you will be overwhelmed by the number of reports you will receive. 

If your cybersecurity is mature enough to handle a bug bounty, however, other complications may arise. One of the worst problems is that running a bug bounty demands a huge team of experts, a lot of money, and a legal team to stand by you during the procedure!

All these complications can be easily resolved, though! With a user-friendly bug bounty solution like Nordic Defender’s, you can simply leave the whole process to the security experts. Every legal or technical procedure can be done through Nordic Defender, and you will merely be in charge of handling the results!

3- How to Improve the Results in a Bug Bounty?

Enhancing the results in a bug bounty program depends on many factors. For instance, you should make sure you’ve chosen the right scope and rewards, the type of program is fully compatible with your needs, and that the bug validation process is meticulously done. 

Yet the most important aspect of a bug bounty is letting the ethical hackers do what they’re best at: detecting security holes! These security experts will solve the problem of the skill gap in terms of security expertise and reduce the MTTR (mean time to resolve) when it comes to mitigating security vulnerabilities. 

To ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of launching a bug bounty, you can try Nordic Defender’s Fully-Managed solution where every step of the program is done by experts, and therefore, a favorable result is assured. 

4- Are Bug Bounty Programs Effective?

Yes, they are! Running a bug bounty program is extremely effective for businesses that have arrived at a certain level of security maturity and seek to find more of their remaining vulnerabilities!

If you’re still wondering how to run a successful bug bounty program, make sure to book a free meeting with Nordic Defender’s experts!

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