3 Ways to Reduce Overhead Costs and Resources with Bug Bounty Programs

September 20, 2021

New technology helps create a competitive advantage for organisations. Business leaders are looking beyond their organisation’s current tech capabilities and modernising legacy enterprise systems. In an article on ‘Reimagining the role of technology’, Deloitte highlights that the distinction between corporate strategy and technology strategy is blurring. With technology driving transformation, creating long-term sustainable value can only be possible by unifying business and technology strategies to cocreate exponential value for companies.

One of the biggest hurdles to this transformation is that the traditional castle-and-moat approach to cybersecurity cannot keep up with the increase in an ever-expanding attack surface and sophisticated cyberattacks. Businesses are moving towards a zero-trust architecture, but they lack the creativity and motivations of black hat hackers. Innovative alternatives that leverage the creativity of human intelligence at scale to combat the malicious motives of adversaries are needed. However, in the face of inherently limited budgets, most cybersecurity teams fail to include a conventional security audit’s indirect cost. Overinvesting in pentests and underinvesting in complexity reduction. With lawyers, contracts, rules of engagement, etc., penetration testing has become bureaucratic. Penetration testing projects may take months to negotiate across different vendors, while a bug bounty program can identify dozens of vulnerabilities in that same period.

So what are bug bounty programs? These programs have transformed the cybersecurity field by building partnerships with white hat hackers to minimise digital risk. This model is a perfect combination of skill sets and experience at scale – resulting in a rapid vulnerability discovery across multiple attack surfaces. With this approach, organisations receive prioritised vulnerabilities, actionable information and remediation advice throughout the process to improve the security posture.

The bug bounty model has been widely accepted across sectors and has experienced radical acceptance in the last years. For instance, companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Facebook rewarded security researchers with millions of dollars as bug bounty awards over the past few years. Several more organisations are running their bug bounty program and accepting reports from hackers worldwide through bug bounty platforms such as YesWeHack. They include emerging startups such as Southeast Asia eCommerce platform Lazada and traditional organisations such as Swiss Post. “Bug bounty offers the guarantee of continuous checking – and not just punctual testing, which is what you get with ‘traditional’ penetration testing. Suppose I run a two-week penetration test every year. In that case, it implies that we remain ‘unprotected’ for the other 50 weeks, which is no longer acceptable,” remarked a Group CISO of a multinational insurance firm when sharing his experience with bug bounty programs. “As a complement, automated tests can also be useful but are not sophisticated enough. With bug bounty, I have researchers working permanently on my scopes. This continuity is essential, especially when you have frequent deliveries in an increasingly agile development context,” he added.

Here is how bug bounty programs play a huge role in removing inefficiencies, reducing overhead costs, and freeing up resources to be deployed productively across other projects.

No Anxiety About Vendor and Project Management

Managing a project end-to-end consumes significant time and resources. Generally, organisations conduct several pentests with multiple vendors to achieve satisfying results. This is not only time-consuming but also requires tremendous efforts and resources. Bug bounty platforms like YesWeHack provide a streamlined and optimal framework for organisations to set up security testing engagements meticulously while providing researchers with a straightforward way to submit vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, managing multi-vendor relationships can be tricky and lead to accountability issues. Hard costs are what you pay for, but there are hidden soft costs in terms of operational fees, procurement efforts, project management that can risk losing time and money that could be invested in other important areas.

Having multiple vendors may also mean more implementation and integration time is needed leading to more complexity. With bug bounty programs, organisations can launch quickly and get actionable insights faster while reducing indirect costs and improving security at the same time.Penetration testing must be scheduled in advance, with a start and end date, and they demand project management. This synchronisation is a real headache, especially with agile developments,continued the Group CISO of the multinational insurance firm.

Minimise Complexity With Streamlined Reports

Conventional security audits do not provide streamlined and consistent reports, especially when multiple vendors are involved. This inconsistency makes the process very cumbersome and strains internal resources as they have to consolidate and process the audit reports. More importantly, managing data from multiple vendors can threaten security and cause information leakage. Bug bounty reduces complexity by providing a single interface for surfacing and managing vulnerabilities, whatever the source. When all the administrative tasks are taken care of, including scoping, triaging reports, dealing with false positives, communicating with researchers, and rewarding them on time, internal teams can focus on essential tasks such as fixing vulnerabilities and strengthening organisational security.

YesWeHack’s bug bounty platform simplifies the process by reducing time and costs spent on procurement, project scheduling, and data processing. “The YesWeHack platform comes in very handy, with a very intuitive UI. The OVH Cloud team managing the bug bounty gives us excellent feedback on workflow management, report processing, interactions with the hunters, among other features,” highlighted Julien Levrard, Security Operations Manager at OVHcloud.

Say ‘No’ to Manual Tasks and a Big ‘Yes’ to Automation

Organisations can easily integrate bug bounty reports into security management systems, eliminating the need for skilled security practitioners indulging in low-value tasks. The good news is everything can be managed through tickets. For instance, YesWeHack’s API allows organisations to integrate bug reports within their favourite tools, processes and workflows in various formats. Teams can close the DevSecOps loop flow with feedback from development teams to security teams. For instance, YesWeHack’s bug tracker integration tool enables the automatic retrieval of public and private comments, updates, rewards and bug status from a bug tracker ticket directly into the corresponding bug bounty report. Security audits become painless since it is easy to export transaction history, control budgets, create beautiful reports, review audit logs and other use cases.

Julien is pleased about the meticulous operations of the bug bounty system and its dashboards and ticketing system, making it easy for the security teams to concentrate on more critical tasks. “Thanks to the YesWeHack API, we easily integrated the bug bounty reports into this process: everything is managed by tickets that are viewable on our dashboards and accessible to our external auditors if needed,” he remarked. “The APIs make it possible to integrate all useful information into our own tools and dashboards in an automated way, and also track our bonus budget, the activity of each program, etc. At a glance, we’re able to know the status of our programs and report indicators to our management: the bug bounty is fully integrated into our strategy and the steering of our global security,” he added.

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“.

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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