You're not ready for a bug bounty program

A bug bounty is a reward for a security researcher who reports a vulnerability in your systems.

You usually partner with a third-party that handles some of the details for you. They list your program on their website and you receive reports by email.

The main benefit is obvious.

You will get a large number of reviews, and only have to pay when a bug was found.

The downsides are less obvious.

It will take time away from your development team, which will slow you down. Most of the reported issues will be already known. After all, you don't have enough time to fix the bugs you already know you have. You won't have a big enough scope. You won't be reacting to reports fast enough. The rewards you will want to pay out will be too low. A waste of time for both you and researchers.

In short, you are not ready to have a bug bounty program.

There are two things you can do until you are:

  1. Work on your fundamentals.
  2. Launch a vulnerability disclosure program.

It's a policy that protects security researchers when they disclose vulnerabilities to you.

You can draft one in an afternoon.

It should include a safe harbor clause, a scope, clear guidelines for submitting bugs, and rules of engagement.

Make it easy to find by publishing it in your security.txt file. Include a public PGP key so it's easier to communicate with you in private.

If you do get submissions, you can still reward researchers. If they're a customer, send them swag, too. And if they aren't anonymous, recognize their achievement in public.

Make sure to record the researcher's contact information. You can invite them to your (private) bug bounty program when you do have one.

You won't have hackers working full-time to report vulnerabilities to you. But honest users will feel safe communicating the bugs they do find. And you'll have saved both time and money.

I hope you found this valuable

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