Sometimes organizations are on the fence around the notion of a bug-bounty program. Why would I pay someone to bang on my software and look for security leaks when we can just do it ourselves? Isn’t that why I hired competent devs and engineers, anyway? We will get into that later.

What is a Bug Bounty

Just a refresher. A bug bounty is when you pay a hacker for letting you know when a security flaw exists in your tool. The greater the flaw, the greater the reward. These hackers make money any time a real bug is reported and squashed. A malicious hacker aims to make money on the data or resources that break into.

Why Start a Bug Bounty Program?

First and foremost, a bug bounty program is a retirement-oriented versus Day Trading Mindset. You want to be secure later, even if you have to take a step or two back now. Paying semi- or completely anonymous people to try to hack your SaaS tool and report back findings is an investment with the longer term in mind.

To put it another way, it’s like insurance for your car (but better). Instead of only realizing the benefit of what you have been paying out every 6 months when you are in an accident, bug bounties essentially aim to let you know if there is something wrong with your vehicle before you put it back on the road in the first place. You can now correct the issue before an accident occurs.

Organizations turn to bug bounties because they aim to limit the impact of business-crippling or killing data breaches by getting ahead of them.

4 Reasons Why Bug Bounties Make Sense

Security vulnerabilities in your code are a given. Teams know issues are going to come up. So why should your organization leverage a bug bounty program over just trying to catch things yourself? Here are just some of the reasons.

1) Bug Bounty Hunters Bring No Bias or Context

One of the chief limitations to trying to manage your code vulnerabilities internally is your team carries the bias that comes from working on the application every day. This bias has a two-sided impact. First, it’s easy to excuse minor issues here and there that you will ‘get to later’ when you really should get to them now. Second, it also just means you look at something every day and miss the forest through the trees. To bug hunters, fresh perspective means catching issues that may be living right in front of your face.

2) Bug Bounty Hunters Fill the Gaps

Sure, it feels like something that your engineering and development team should, over time, be able to detect and correct themselves but competing priorities and timelines make that unrealistic as a long-term strategy. Why? As your team grows, maintaining oversight and consistency is increasingly difficult. Even if you double down on your hiring standards, humans are filled with oversight. Bug bounty programs fill the gaps while allowing your team to remain efficient with development cycles.

3) Bug Bounty Programs Carry a Lower Cost, Longterm

You may pay out a premium when bugs are found. It’s real cash and certainly annoying. If the issue is significant enough, you may even have to completely switch gears to remediate the problem. But think for a second about what is more likely: a software provider going out of business because of a bounty they had to pay out or because of a major data breach of which they are liable?

The cost of a bug bounty is real because it is cash out of your account but the costs of a breach, while in the future and hopefully not realized, are much more detrimental. To go back to our investment mindset metaphor, putting a little away now can pay much larger dividends later. Just ask some of these folks.

4) Bug Bounty Programs Carry a Positive Value

Lastly, organizations may be surprised to find that prospective customers like to know your organization is taking proactive steps to secure yours and their data. Back to our insurance metaphor: would you let someone borrow your car that didn’t have their own insurance? No. Bug bounties don’t infer weakness in your product development. Like insurance, they actually highlight the wisdom that comes with acknowledging things happen. Don’t believe me? Try telling your next prospect that asks about how you will keep their data secure that your team uses Macs and is plain awesome.

Bug Bounty Programs Make Sense

If you are thinking to yourself “Couldn’t we also be more careful, just to manage how much we are paying out?” the answer is definitely. A DevSecOps approach to building your application should bring to light more security issues from within your team without having to fork over any extra cash. But no solution is perfect or fool proof.

The thing with bug bounty programs is they like any sort of insurance purchase you’ve ever made – you will think investing in a bug bounty program was the best decision you ever made when that dreaded day comes but a crisis is averted.

Did you know?

JupiterOne actually directly pulls data from the reported bugs in your HackerOne Bug Bounty program via our managed integration and connects the findings with the impacted resources in your digital environment.

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