Private Bug Bounty Programs

Private Bug Bounty Programs

Private Bug Bounty Programs

Not all bug bounty programs are created equally. Some are visible to the general public and others are privately managed. In the below post, we’ll discuss private bug bounty programs and their pros and cons of managing one.

What is a Private Bug Bounty Program?

Bug bounty programs are designed to reward individuals for reporting and fixing security vulnerabilities in a given system. A private bug bounty program is not publicly accessible. This means that only ethical hackers that are directly invited to participate can test and submit vulnerability reports.

Pros and Cons of Private Programs

While the private bug bounty model has several advantages over the public one, there are also some potential downsides to consider.


More control

One of the main benefits of private programs is that they offer a way for a company to better control crowdsourced security research and testing.

This can be particularly helpful for companies with highly sensitive systems or data, as it allows them to better vet potential attackers and ensure the program is only being accessed by vetted individuals who are genuinely interested in improving security.

Focused research and testing

A private program also allows companies to prioritize security over other aspects of the program, such as the speed or volume of bug reports. This can be particularly beneficial for companies that are developing new products or updating existing ones and need to focus on identifying and fixing critical vulnerabilities before less important issues.


Less visibility

A private program also offers less visibility than a public one. A public program, particularly one that is well-publicized, can help attract talented and motivated researchers to a company’s security efforts. This can lead to more effective research, quicker fixes for vulnerabilities, and ultimately improved overall system security.

More work for internal teams

As private programs are typically only open to specific participants, they can require more work on the part of companies’ existing security teams. This includes everything from managing new participants and setting up communication channels, to reviewing vulnerability reports and fixing issues as quickly as possible.

Using Bug Bounty Platforms to Control Visibility

Launching and managing a bug bounty program today is a lot easier than it was just a few years ago. Many companies are using bug bounty platforms such as HackerOne and Bugcrowd.

Both of these platforms offer ways for organizations to effectively manage private bug bounty programs. This means that in order for hackers to see these programs, they must be explicitly invited.

This is a great way for companies to get started with bug bounty programs, as it allows them to control the scope and pace of their programs while still benefiting from the expertise and insights of talented security researchers.

Once you have mastered private bug bounty programs, these platforms provide an easy way to transition to a public model, should you decide that this is the right path for your organization.