A bug bounty, also known as bug security bounty or bug bounty program, refers to a crowdsourcing initiative in which ethical hackers discover and report software bugs and then get rewarded by that vulnerability rewards program (VRP). Indeed, it is a deal that many organizations, websites, and software developers offer to resolve bugs before getting them to the general public. Undoubtedly, many organizations have started implementing bug security bounty programs, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and even the US Department of Defense.
Benefits for Ethical Hackers
A bug security bounty program benefits both ethical hackers, otherwise called white-hat hackers, and the organization that runs the program. Let's first see the benefits for ethical hackers:
In a bug security bounty program, experienced and diverse ethical hackers proactively work for organizations to identify risks, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities for remediation.
Ethical hackers enjoy financial incentives when they report the vulnerability to developers.
Sometimes, hackers from around the globe get hired by various organizations for tracking bugs and reporting vulnerabilities, earning full-time incomes.
Hackers don't use any standard checklist, but they have to research the latest and unpredictable hacks used by cybercriminals, helping them become more and more creative.
Benefits for the Organization
Now, here we discuss the benefits for the organization operating the bug security bounty program:
Improved Vulnerability Detection
The essential benefit of a bug security bounty program is that the organization recognizes and fixes various vulnerabilities within its applications. With a bug security bounty program, an organization has a higher likelihood of identifying weaknesses before being exploited in attacks, securing the organization's reputation, along decreasing the probability of high-value hacks.
Realistic Threat Simulation
An organization pays bug trackers to act precisely as a cyber-threat actor with a bug security bounty program. Essentially, they have similar information about the organization and access to its systems. It implies that the vulnerability assessments conducted by bug security bounty trackers will probably be more practical and realistic than a more organized engagement.
More Prominent Access to Talent
Bug security bounty programs also offer organizations access to talent that may be challenging to attract and retain in-house. With a bug security bounty program, an organization can go through vulnerability testing by more bug trackers with a more prominent scope of talents and abilities than would be accessible with a traditional pen-test or vulnerability scan.
Without question, paying a bounty to discover a vulnerability is a lot less expensive than remediating a security incident triggered by the same exposure. Even though bounty values may vary, surprisingly, the most costly bounties are pretty cheaper than a data breach. Another cost-saving factor is that an organization only needs to pay bug bounty trackers if they discover something. Also, it remains less expensive than paying for a similar level of cybersecurity testing in-house or through contractors, who are paid by the hour whether or not they discover anything.
Top 10 Bug Security Bounty Programs
Well, let's conclude our discussion by enlisting the top 10 bug security bounty programs, along with their minimum and maximum payouts, which depend on the bug criticality:
Intel (minimum payout: $500, maximum payout: $30,000)
Yahoo (minimum payout: No Set Limit, maximum payout: $15,000)
Snapchat (minimum payout: $2,000, maximum payout: $15,000)
Cisco (minimum payout: $100, maximum payout: $2,500)
Dropbox (minimum payout: $12,167, maximum payout: $32,768)
Apple (minimum payout: $No Set Limit, maximum payout: $200,000)
Facebook (minimum payout: $500, maximum payout: No Set Limit)
Google (minimum payout: $300, maximum payout: $31,337)
Quora (minimum payout: $100, maximum payout: $7,000)
Mozilla (minimum payout: $500, maximum payout: $5,000)
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