19 Dec Bug Bounty Program Alternatives
Bug bounty programs have gained popularity among enterprises to quickly scale up their security efforts and improve the security of their products and services. But opening up your business to a world of bounty hunters is only sometimes a viable option. Only some organizations have the resources to commit to paying out bounties, and not everyone is adept at navigating the processes of managing a bug bounty program.
There are many other options for organizations looking to increase their security efforts without committing to a traditional bug bounty program. Several other options may better suit your organization’s unique needs and security goals. In the post below, we’ll share some alternatives to bug bounty programs and the pros and cons of each.
Do Nothing (Not Recommended)
Doing nothing isn’t a great option, but it is an option at the end of the day.
Today, the unfortunate reality is that many organizations continue to take a reactive approach to cyber security, focusing on improving their security efforts only after they’ve been compromised or suffered a data breach.
One of the biggest pitfalls of taking this reactive approach is that it enables attackers to operate undetected for long periods, giving them ample opportunity to carry out advanced attacks and cause significant damage. The longer organizations put off implementing measures to improve their security posture, the more data they’ll lose and the more damage attackers will be able to inflict.
Conduct Regular Security Audits
Another option for organizations looking to boost their security efforts without relying on a traditional bug bounty program is to start small and invest in regular security audits. These audits can help you identify and address any existing vulnerabilities or weaknesses in your security posture, allowing you to quickly ramp up your security efforts and improve your organization’s risk profile.
The downside of security audits is that they only give you a bird’s eye view of your security posture and are only sometimes effective in identifying more nuanced or advanced attacks. For this reason, following up on any security audit with additional testing and monitoring is essential to ensure that you’ve addressed all potential weaknesses. Many audits overly rely on scanning tools that “check the boxes” and don’t customize their approach based on an organization’s unique needs.
Launch a Vulnerability Disclosure Program
Before launching an official bug bounty program, almost all organizations create a vulnerability disclosure policy, which outlines how researchers can disclose vulnerabilities to the organization responsibly and legally.
Although this type of policy is an important precursor to a bug bounty program, organizations can use numerous other types of security programs without needing to open up their products and services to hackers on the internet. One popular alternative includes vulnerability disclosure programs.
A vulnerability disclosure program allows researchers and other external parties to report vulnerabilities in your products, services, or security processes directly to you. This will enable organizations to focus their efforts on addressing the reported issues without having to go out searching for vulnerabilities themselves. The key advantage of this approach is that it gives organizations direct control over handling and addressing any reported vulnerabilities.
While these programs provide a good way for security teams to get accustomed to handling reports, the need for more transparency can be problematic. Researchers may not receive public recognition for their efforts, and it can be challenging for organizations to determine which vulnerabilities pose the most risk to their security posture.
Expand In-House Teams
Adding additional resources and personnel to a security team is another way for organizations to improve their security efforts without relying on a bug bounty program.
Some organizations choose to expand their in-house teams by hiring more security analysts, engineers, or ethical hackers who can work to identify and address vulnerabilities before malicious actors discover them. Others outsource some of these activities to managed security service providers (MSSPs), who can provide ongoing security monitoring and testing services.
While it may be tempting to try to address your organization’s security needs on your own, this task is often too large and complex for most organizations to handle effectively. It can also get extremely expensive, fast. By outsourcing some of these activities to third parties, organizations can focus on improving their security posture without worrying about the day-to-day details.
Hire an Ethical Hacking Company
Third-party ethical hacking companies are another option for organizations looking to improve their security posture without launching a bug bounty program.
Companies specializing in ethical hacking can provide customized penetration tests and other services to help organizations identify vulnerabilities, assess their risk profile, and create actionable plans for improving their security posture. Ethical hacking companies often have specialized skills and experience that can help organizations identify and address unique security threats that may be difficult to find with standard scanning tools.
Although hiring an ethical hacking company is not cheap, it can be a cost-effective option for organizations that need more time or resources to handle these activities independently. If you are considering this option, make sure to take the time to find a reputable company with proven experience helping other organizations improve their security posture.
It’s also helpful to work with companies with direct industry experience, as they can expedite the security assessment process and help you find and address specific issues that pose the most significant risk to your organization.