3 Ways to Stretch Your Security Budget Further With Bug Bounty Programs

September 13, 2021

Very early into the Covid-19 pandemic, companies had truly embraced the belief that every business is a technology business. They have set on an exponential transformation journey to win the post-pandemic race. According to a report by McKinsey, the global pandemic has given rise to an accelerated digital transformation, which has also resulted in exposing organisations’ vulnerabilities that threaten their existence.

A secure digital environment is now foundational to organisations’ growth and in preparation for another crisis that may arise. Customer data, intellectual property, and other confidential information are constantly targeted by hackers causing a direct impact on shareholder value and business performance. Securing systems, networks and devices, both remotely and at work, has become crucial, and many security leaders have pivoted to shoring up networks and connections rather than executing strategic plans.

It is essential to stretch the dollar for CISOs in order to reduce the organisation’s security risk on a necessarily limited budget. They need to highlight the hidden long-term value of potential new investments and identify the hidden costs associated with the existing investments. Bug bounty programs deliver rapid vulnerability discovery across multiple attack surfaces. With this approach, organisations receive prioritised vulnerabilities and real-time remediation advice throughout the process to accelerate the discovery and solution to vulnerabilities.

“The recent number of incidents where attackers could steal data from software companies proves that a bug bounty is especially needed nowadays. We owe it to PrestaShop users to put application security as the number one priority,” remarked Pierre Rambaud, Senior Core Developer at PrestaShop. “It is obvious that this program has a cost: not only money but also time dedicated to reports and to patch the issues. Companies whose source code is not disclosed may have the impression that they are safe and nothing can happen to them as the code is not public, which, of course, is wrong. In the long run, the program will actually cost less than you may think, as it will prevent breaches from happening,” he added.

The complexity of security threats has increased rapidly over the years, making a robust system like bug bounty a must to achieve greater security. Here are some ways how bug bounty helps to get the maximum bang for the buck.

Pay Only for Results

With pentesting, organisations pay a fixed price in advance, regardless of results. There’s no guarantee of the quality of work, the number of issues reported, the time spent by the consultants, or the skills of the researchers. Bug bounties fill the gap of penetration testing and exponentially improve the potential results since businesses only pay for qualified vulnerabilities based on program rules. They do not need to pay if there aren’t any valid bugs found. This results-driven model ensures you pay for the vulnerabilities that pose a threat to your business and not for the time or effort it took to find them.

“With traditional pentests, we have to pay even if nothing has been found. After two months of running our bug bounty program, we were notified of dozens of security flaws. These included some critical vulnerabilities never reported through previous audits, for a reward budget totalling around half of the cost of a single audit,” highlighted a Security Architect at a Trust Service Provider.

Set Criteria to Define Valuable Information

With traditional security audits, organisations do not have a say over what “qualifies” as a bug. They offer no flexibility in exploring vulnerabilities in real-time and will have to accept the final report as is. Bug bounty programs, on the other hand, offer flexibility and customisation with security audits. They provide an opportunity to define the parameters of the tests and where the budget is allocated to detect and fix vulnerabilities based on your security requirements.

Some customisations include areas of applications that are off-limits, how deep the test should be driven, the test dates, types of vulnerabilities to be ruled out and several other factors. Organisations can set their own rules for maximum efficiency. Doing this in a traditional penetration test becomes tedious and expensive. Bug bounty platforms offer a massive advantage by simplifying the process.

“Bug bounty also allows us to be more flexible. For example, I need to test development environments, or the validation phase, before production. Again, this is challenging to do consistently using traditional penetration testing. The YesWeHack platform enables us to adjust the rules for each program, including the bounty grid, according to the specific phase of each project,” highlighted a Group CISO of a Multinational Insurance Firm.

Get More Control and Mitigate Risk Effectively

It’s difficult to estimate how much a business will lose as a result of a security breach and plan security budgets effectively. Hence, it’s important to ensure every security activity is measurable – especially, security audits. A bug bounty is results-oriented and helps to rationalise the audit budget since the parameters and costs are defined well in advance. They offer the combined benefits of effective risk reduction and efficient usage of capital while reducing operating expenses.

Researchers are motivated to think innovatively and find high-impact bugs that directly threaten your business. Payments are proportional to results. The bigger the vulnerability, the more prominent the pay-out will be. Running a bug bounty program with a trusted partner like YesWeHack lowers the potential risk since ethical hackers follow the rules on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. With bug bounty programs, security teams clearly understand how and for which results (in terms of risk reduction) the audit budget is actually spent on. Enabled by the platform-driven model, bug bounty programs ensure that all activity is tracked and budgets are accounted for.

“We started bug bounty wondering if we could successfully adapt the model to our way. Today, it is one of the pillars of our web security strategy. Of course, it’s vital to set the program’s rules carefully: you have to structure the tests in the right way so that the hunters don’t “disperse” their efforts. You need to identify the right “boundaries”, where the program setup is essential. We started with a tightly drawn scope and expanded it as we went along,” said Daniel Diez – Head of the Digital Factory Division, Groupe ADP.

More Resources on Increasing the Return on Security Investments With Bug Bounty Programs

As digital innovations make the world a faster, better, and much more efficient place to work and live, the focus is shifting towards security threats and how best to handle them. A secure and hardened IT environment helps gain customers’ trust in the long run. To understand how to maximise the return on investment (ROI) of bug bounty programs, download the eBook on “Five Reasons Bug Bounty Improves the Return on Security Investments“.

Cybercrime has become industrialised, and attackers are highly prepared to create immense damage. Business and security teams need to come together to protect the organisation. Here are three ways that bug bounty programs can cost-effectively build transparency and improve accountability within the organisation.

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The traditional castle-and-moat approach to #cybersecurity cannot keep up with an ever-expanding attack surface and sophisticated cyberattacks. In the face of limited security budgets, understand how bug bounty programs can remove inefficiencies, reduce overhead costs, and free up resources to be deployed productively across other projects. Here are three ways to reduce overhead costs and resources with bug bounty programs.

As businesses become digitally mature, they will have to deal with the alarming increase in cyber threats. This forces conversations on data ownership, privacy, security, transparency, and trust. Find out how bug bounty drives agility and improves profits for digital businesses.

To find out more, contact one of our Bug Bounty experts:

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About YesWeHack:

Founded in 2015, YesWeHack is a Global Bug Bounty & VDP Platform. YesWeHack offers companies an innovative approach to cybersecurity with Bug Bounty (pay-per-vulnerability discovered), connecting tens of thousands cybersecurity experts (ethical hackers) across 170 countries with organizations to secure their exposed scopes and reporting vulnerabilities in their websites, mobile apps, infrastructure and connected devices. YesWeHack runs private (invitation based only) programs and public programs for hundreds of organisations worldwide in compliance with the strictest European regulations.

In addition to the Bug Bounty platform, YesWeHack also offers: support in creating a Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP), a learning platform for ethical hackers called Dojo and a training platform for educational institutions, YesWeHackEDU. For more information: www.yeswehack.com