The skill of searching for vulnerabilities for remuneration has gained popularity in recent years. It has already become a separate area of employment for information security specialists. More and more companies are joining such programs called bug bounty. Hence, bug bounty programs are specifically valuable for businesses in testing bugs so that tests don’t expose any sensitive data. Furthermore, such platforms often provide penetration testing services to help enterprises to find vulnerabilities before a malicious actor exploits them.
We have gathered handy information on bug bounty programs, bounty platform features, and the top bug bounty platforms.
Bug Bounty Program Features
A bug bounty platform is a special software that helps deploy and monitor a standard bug bounty program. A bug bounty is a participation reward that organizations offer to ethical hackers for detecting security-threatening bugs. In brief, bug bounty platforms offer various functions and tools to simplify the remediation procedure and track how well a business resolves network vulnerabilities.
This step allows companies to visualize the ROI of their software program while comparing their overall performance to their peers. In addition, Benchmarking can also compare their average remediation time with competitors — similar-sized businesses in their industry.
- LIVE INSIGHTS
Organizations may monitor programs’ every aspect in real-time. From average time for the remediation to the number of paid bounties, these security-testing analytics help companies prioritize risk while continuing to scale.
- HACKER RETESTING
When a patch deploys, the security team can request a retest by the same attacker who detected the flaw. This process guarantees the hacker who spotted the bug can verify the fix.
- EXTRA SUPPORT
Some common bug bounty platforms offer extra services to complement programs, such as triage, by working with the security team to accelerate remediation and thus reduce attack vectors and patch bugs.
- CUSTOMIZABLE TESTING
No two companies are the same, and security goals can shift instantly. As a result, platforms provide customizable models to fit a business’s security culture. For example, time-focused security programs help refine scope, whereas private invite-only programs keep user reports private.
How Does a Bug Bounty Program Work?
Bug bounty programs allow experts to connect cyber attackers who find vulnerabilities and a company’s remediation team. A single platform helps both parties cooperate, communicate, and quickly remove bugs. Moreover, program managers usually track the program’s progress on the back-end, recording metrics such as bounty payouts, number of found vulnerabilities, and average resolution time.
Thus, before launching a program, companies set the scope and say whether it’s private or public. The scope delineates the systems available for testing, how they will conduct tests, and the duration of the program in an open state. Programs may be either private or public.
When hackers spot a bug, they submit a so-called vulnerability disclosure report. The report outlines the systems the bug influences, how developers can replicate it, and its severity level. These reports are sent directly to the online security remediation team that validates the bug and, after, queues it for patching. The hacker receives a reward for their finding when the team validates the bug.
Bug Bounty Hunting Platforms Benefits
A bug bounty platform is a spot where different bug bounty programs are listed. The platform generally acts as a bridge that brings firms that want their systems tested, with so-called ethical hackers testing the systems for a reward or recognition.
Briefly, the bug bounty platform is a man-in-the-middle.
Consider a bug bounty platform as a notice board. Various companies had declared about their bug bounty programs. Everyone can see this info and participate. One benefit of such platforms is that they can be used to report vulnerabilities. After submitting a report, a representative of the organization to which you submitted the vulnerability will review it and reject or accept it.
Benefits of a bug bounty platform for security managers:
- Listings of different vulnerability disclosure programs (VDP) in one spot
- Rankings – you may easily compare how you stand with other platform users.
- Reports of publicly-disclosed weaknesses
- Legal protection – you may participate in the programs legally without thinking about the consequences of doing the right thing.
Benefits of such a platform for companies:
- It exposes targets to a large number of penetration testers. That results in finding vulnerabilities before malicious hackers exploit them.
- The platform partially removes administrative burden and assists in assessing the findings that attackers had submitted reports.
- It promotes the vulnerability disclosure program to security researchers. So, the users are already there and working on different programs.
The Best Bug Bounty Platform List
What is so attractive about bug bounty programs for companies? The economic factor plays a big role here as the total cost of a bug bounty for an organization will be significantly cheaper than hiring individual specialists to conduct an information security audit and a penetration test. In addition, such a campaign will most often be more effective. See our list of the best bug bounty platforms.
Hacken is close to becoming a leader in the Web3 cybersecurity industry, so if you are interested in Web 3.0 bug bounties, HackenProof is a winning option. Hacken created the platform – a company founded in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2017, and it has been delivering cybersecurity services with a key focus on blockchain security. Here are some facts about the platform:
- The program includes five types of systems: web, mobile, API, desktop, and infrastructure.
- Twenty-one hackers have already started searching for bugs.
- Now there are 37 bug bounty programs found on the platform.
- Programs have received over 5700 reports.
- The total reward pool for the bounties reaches 553 000 USD.
The platform is dedicated fully to the bounties of crypto ventures.
HackerOne is considered one of the leading bug bounty platforms. Founded in 2012 and based in San Francisco, California, the platform has received funding in Series A, B, C, D, and E rounds. In the last funding-based round, Series E, HackerOne raised as much as 49 000 000 USD. As one of the pioneers of bounties platforms, HackerOne is one of the major names in the industry.
See HackerOne details:
- Over 294 000 vulnerabilities have been resolved via the system.
- Over 1 million security researchers work on the platform.
- One thousand companies are collaborating with HackerOne.
- It has many public reports that are a great source of learning.
- There are over 100 000 000 $ in paid bounties.
HackerOne attracted media attention as one of the most trusted and reputable bug bounty hunting platforms.
- Apple Security Bounty
One of the biggest platforms for ethical hackers is called Apple Security Bounty. Here are some important things to pay attention to:
- For various security issues on iCloud and its smartphones, it offers rewards up to $1,000,000 (a million dollars).
- Not only limited to the reward, but becoming involved with Apple while having an efficient report will most likely give you good public recognition for your work.
- They additionally match the bounty payments to a few qualifying charities.
The platform’s goal is to protect customers by understanding both system vulnerabilities and their exploitation techniques.
Bugcrowd is one more robust bug bounty platform that is a big name in the bug bounty industry. Founded in 2011, it is now one of the first and biggest platforms. The company was founded in Sydney, Australia, but currently, they have various offices across the globe, with the HQ in San Francisco. Here are some facts:
- Bugcrowd offers pentesting services and attack surface management.
- Currently, Bugcrowd has over 1400 bug bounty programs.
Bugcrowd is considered reliable among various companies. Therefore, they trust them to host their vulnerability disclosure programs.
Intigriti is one more popular bug bounty platform. It claims to be the most widely recognized platform in Europe and has many European firms as its clients. Founded in Belgium in 2016, the platform has gained trust in the community. Intigriti has an active blog, Bug Bytes, and periodical infosec news and actively engages with the audience on Twitter. While Intigriti has fewer bug bounty hunters than the giants such as HackerOne, right now, there are:
- About 50 000 security researchers
- About 400 active bug bounty programs
- Over 5 million in bounties were paid.
- Intigriti secured over 21 million in Series B funding in April 2022 and is growing yearly.
Intigriti is a crowdsourced human intelligence platform where security researchers and organizations meet. As an ethical hacking platform, they identify and resolve security issues cost-efficiently.
YesWeHack is another powerful bug bounty platform established in Europe – headquartered in Paris, France. In addition, the company has several offices: in France, Switzerland, Singapore, and Germany. Here are the facts:
- The platform has 30+ different bug bounty programs.
- In 2019 YesWeHack raised as much as 4 million euros in a Series A funding round. In 2021, the platform raised 16 million euros in a Series B funding round.
While it is not the largest platform, the company is gaining traction.
Synack bug bounty platform was created by former NSA agents Jay Kaplan and Mark Kuhr in 2013. It provides various cybersecurity services for major companies. See the facts:
- The company also has private bug bounty program variants for security researchers, yet, to join them, you must prove yourself and apply for a seat on Synack Red Team.
- One of the key advantages of Synack is that you can also get paid for activities other than found bugs. So checklist work is rewarded, too.
The process is consistent as Synack takes care of the triage procedure and pays the bounties to the security experts.
Even though participating in the Openbugbounty bug bounties won’t make you rich, you have the chance to make the internet a little bit safer place. This community-driven platform links security researchers who found vulnerabilities in any site with the website owners. So, see the facts:
- With the platform’s help, over 1 259 000 disclosures were submitted, and over 905 000 vulnerabilities were fixed.
- Almost 1 600 bug bounty programs are on the platform, with over 3 165 websites that can be tested.
- To date, the platform has attracted over 28 000 security experts.
Also, OpenBugBounty cooperates with national CERTs and law enforcement agencies by delivering a free API to the platform while keeping vulnerability specifications confidential unless a researcher reveals their findings to the public.
Immunefi is one more powerful bug bounty platform dedicated to Web 3.0 bug bounty programs. Launched at the end of 2020, Immunefi provides some of the largest bug bounties in the industry. Here are the details about it:
- Bug bounty programs of Immunefi have payouts up to 10 000 000 USD.
- In total, over 40 000 000 USD in bounties were paid out. However, there are still over 132 000 000 USD potential bounties left.
- As Web 3.0 is an industry where a hack may cause considerable financial losses, found weaknesses and bugs have averted over 20 billion USD hack damages.
If you are a smart contract auditor, this is the platform where you will find several smart contract bug bounties.
- Meta Bug Bounty
Meta platform, formerly Facebook, also has its bug bounty program, Whitehat. First, let’s go over the facts:
- Here, the reward money can reach $45,000. As per the bug’s severity, the prize money can be much more (or less).
- Meta publicly posts all the security researchers’ names to thank them. In addition, you can find credits to security researchers since 2011 and before.
- Besides that, they offer an attractive loyalty program that helps users multiply their rewards (up to 20%) and earn sponsored trips to hacker events by Meta.
Meta Bug Bounty is a community-driven project that rewards users for being a member.
Overall, it does not matter what bug bounty platform you select. You progress in your career if you look for security flaws and bugs. You may pick one or another security-focused platform from our list of best bug bounty platforms, analyze it, and if you want to test a new one, feel free to do so. These are just platforms, and the enrolled companies are the most important. So, some of the companies might be taking part on different platforms.
You don’t need special skills or foundational knowledge to start bashing out at some web apps and spotting some basic bugs. Yet, gaining foundational knowledge has to be part of your hacking journey.
As per a HackerOne for 2020 report, a standard bounty on critical vulnerabilities at that time reached a record number – 3650.
A Bug Bounty is a reward payment offered to the individual who detects an error or vulnerability in a system or computer program. Many organizations, websites, and software developers prefer using a Bug Bounty Program, where people can receive some compensation and recognition for reporting flaws or bugs.
See the list of the top companies having bounty programs: Snapchat, Facebook, Intel, Cisco, Apple, Yahoo, Dropbox, Google.