HackerOne: A Comprehensive Guide for Companies and Hackers

HackerOne: A Guide for Companies & Hackers

HackerOne: A Comprehensive Guide for Companies and Hackers

HackerOne is a leading platform for bug bounty programs, connecting companies and ethical hackers worldwide. 

This article will explore how HackerOne works for companies and hackers and the benefits and limitations of using the platform. 

Whether you’re a company looking to enhance your security or a hacker looking for new challenges, you will want to take advantage of our comprehensive guide to HackerOne. Get ready to discover the power of bug bounty programs and the role of HackerOne in the rapidly-evolving world of cybersecurity.

What is HackerOne?

HackerOne is a platform that connects companies and ethical hackers to identify and fix vulnerabilities in software and systems. 

Companies use HackerOne to set up and run bug bounty programs, incentivizing hackers to find and report vulnerabilities in exchange for rewards. HackerOne provides various services to assist with program design, launch, recruiting, and managing hackers. The platform also handles the initial assessment and triaging of vulnerability reports and helps companies prioritize and fix the most critical issues. 

For hackers, HackerOne is a one-stop shop for finding and participating in bug bounty programs, with a wide variety of opportunities available across industries and skill levels. Hackers can use the platform to report vulnerabilities, track their progress, and earn rewards and recognition for their contributions.

History of HackerOne

HackerOne was founded in 2012 by a group of entrepreneurs and security experts with a vision of creating a more efficient and effective way for companies to identify and fix vulnerabilities.

In the early years of HackerOne, the company focused on building its network of hackers and establishing itself as a trusted and reliable platform for bug bounty programs. This involved recruiting top talent from the hacking community and developing tools and resources to support companies and hackers.

As HackerOne grew and gained traction in the market, it expanded its services and capabilities. This included launching new products and solutions, such as the HackerOne API and advisory and triage services. HackerOne has also prioritized acquisitions of other security companies, such as PullRequest, to build its infrastructure. Today, HackerOne boasts a network of over 800,000 hackers and has helped organizations of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies, run successful bug bounty programs.

Overall, the history of HackerOne is one of growth and expansion, as the company has evolved from a small startup to a leading player in the bug bounty industry. As the need for secure systems continues to grow, HackerOne is well-positioned to continue its growth and impact in cybersecurity.

How Does HackerOne Work?

Because HackerOne is a platform that connects organizations with ethical hackers, it provides several functions. The below sections will explain how HackerOne works for companies and hackers. For this post, we will focus primarily on their core focus: bug bounties.

For companies

HackerOne works for companies by providing a range of services and tools to set up and run bug bounty programs. Here is a more detailed overview of how HackerOne works for companies:

  1. Setting up a bug bounty program: Companies can use HackerOne’s platform and resources to design and launch a bug bounty program that meets their specific needs and goals. This includes tools and suggestions to help define the program’s scope, rules, and rewards.
  2. Recruiting and managing hackers: HackerOne has a network of over 800,000 hackers, making it easy for companies to find qualified individuals to participate in their bug bounty programs. Companies can use HackerOne’s tools to filter and select hackers based on their skills and expertise and communicate and collaborate with them.
  3. Handling vulnerability reports: When hackers report vulnerabilities through HackerOne, the platform helps companies prioritize and fix the most critical issues. Companies can also use HackerOne’s tools and resources to assess, track, and manage vulnerabilities and rewards.

HackerOne provides a range of services and tools to help companies set up and run successful bug bounty programs. By using HackerOne, companies can tap into a large pool of qualified hackers and access a range of resources and support for managing and fixing vulnerabilities.

For Hackers

HackerOne works for hackers by providing a platform for finding and participating in bug bounty programs. Here is a more detailed overview of how HackerOne works for hackers:

  1. Finding bug bounty programs: Hackers can use HackerOne’s platform to search for and apply to bug bounty programs that match their skills and interests. The platform includes various programs across industries and skill levels, making it easy for hackers to find opportunities that match their expertise.
  2. Participating in bug bounty programs: Once accepted into a program, hackers can use HackerOne’s tools and resources to report vulnerabilities and track their progress. This includes tools for submitting and monitoring reports and resources for improving skills and knowledge.
  3. Receiving rewards and recognition: Successful hackers can earn rewards and recognition for their contributions to bug bounty programs through HackerOne. Companies use HackerOne’s platform to set different tiers of rewards based on severity. As reports are accepted, HackerOne handles the payment process, ensuring that hackers receive their rewards promptly and securely.

Overall, HackerOne provides a range of tools and resources to help hackers find and participate in bug bounty programs and earn rewards and recognition for their contributions.

Success stories and case studies

As one of the largest and most respected bug bounty platforms, HackerOne has a wealth of success stories and case studies to showcase the impact and value of bug bounty programs.

Here are some examples of successful bug bounty programs using HackerOne:

  • One of the most notable success stories of HackerOne is the bug bounty program run by the U.S. Department of Defense. This program launched in 2016, fixing over 24,000 vulnerabilities. The success of this program has inspired other government agencies and organizations to adopt similar programs, highlighting the power of HackerOne to drive positive change.
  • Another example of a successful bug bounty program using HackerOne is the Yahoo bug bounty program. Yahoo launched its bug bounty program in 2014 and has resolved over 10,000 vulnerability reports from hackers, paying out more than $22 million in bounties. The program has been a critical part of Yahoo’s efforts to enhance its cybersecurity posture.

Bug bounty programs using HackerOne have had a significant impact on businesses and organizations in a variety of other industries. 

By leveraging the skills and expertise of ethical hackers, companies can identify and fix vulnerabilities that may have otherwise gone undetected. This has helped thousands of companies to improve their security posture, protect their assets, and enhance their reputation. 

In addition, bug bounty programs hosted on HackerOne have also helped companies to save money and resources, as the cost of fixing vulnerabilities through these programs is often significantly lower than the cost of responding to a breach. 

For reference, the average global data breach cost is approximately $4.35 million. However, the average bug bounty program typically costs about 10-20% of total payouts to manage. A hosted platform, like HackerOne, can help keep these management costs down while assisting companies to avoid potentially catastrophic breaches.

Experiences and perspectives of hackers participating in HackerOne programs are also generally positive.

Many hackers have praised HackerOne for its range of opportunities and resources, as well as its support and guidance. Hackers have also appreciated the opportunity to work with reputable organizations and earn rewards and recognition for their contributions.

Some notable wins by hackers on HackerOne include:

All in all, you will find no shortage of success stories of hackers getting rewarded for finding and reporting security vulnerabilities on HackerOne. To see for yourself, we recommend checking out Hacktivity, which shows a large percentage of rewards post-resolution.

Pros and Cons of using HackerOne

One of the main advantages of using HackerOne for both companies and hackers is the platform’s extensive network and reputation. For companies, this means access to a large pool of qualified hackers and the credibility and support of a leading platform. For hackers, this means a wider range of opportunities and the ability to work with reputable organizations.

In addition to its size and reputation, HackerOne offers several features and resources that make it a valuable tool for bug bounty programs. For companies, this includes tools for managing and triaging vulnerabilities and training and support for running a successful program. For hackers, this includes tools for reporting vulnerabilities and tracking progress and resources for improving skills and knowledge.

While HackerOne has many benefits, it hasn’t been immune to criticism. The competition for rewards and recognition can be fierce for hackers, and it may be challenging to stand out in a crowded field, especially for beginners.

Additionally, some HackerOne researchers have reported: “Months-long wait times for responses and a mediation process that rarely favors researchers.” (TechTarget)

The company has also admitted that an employee stole vulnerability reports for personal gain (The Hacker News). Ultimately, the company fired the employee, but the occurrence did raise some concerns with the public and its user base regarding company integrity and security of user-submitted intellectual property.

Despite these drawbacks, HackerOne has proven to be a successful and valuable tool for companies and hackers. Looking to the future, it is likely that HackerOne will continue to be a significant player in the bug bounty industry. As more companies adopt bug bounty programs and the need for secure systems grows, the demand for platforms like HackerOne will likely increase.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does HackerOne cost?

As part of their mission to make the internet safer, HackerOne offers a version of their popular bounty program for free to eligible open-source projects.

HackerOne charges a 5% payment processing fee towards compliance checks, payment fulfillment, and year-end 1099. This fee is on top of the bounty you award to Hackers. For example, if you decide to award a $1,000 bounty, the total cost will be $1,050, with $1,000 going to the hacker and $50 to HackerOne.

How to get started on HackerOne?

To get started on HackerOne, you can follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for a free account on the HackerOne website.
  2. Explore the available bug bounty programs and apply to ones that match your skills and interests.
  3. Use the tools and resources provided by HackerOne to report vulnerabilities and track your progress.
  4. Engage with the community and seek support and guidance from HackerOne and other hackers.

What skills are required to work on HackerOne?

You will need various technical and problem-solving skills to work on HackerOne and participate in bug bounty programs. Some specific skills that may be helpful include:

  • Knowledge of programming languages and web technologies
  • Experience with vulnerability assessment and penetration testing
  • Familiarity with cybersecurity best practices and tools
  • Ability to analyze and troubleshoot technical issues
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills

How do hackers get paid on HackerOne?

Hackers get paid on HackerOne by participating in bug bounty programs and successfully identifying and reporting vulnerabilities. Companies use the platform to set the terms of rewards, such as the amount and method of payment, and to distribute rewards to hackers. HackerOne handles the payment process, ensuring that hackers receive their rewards in a timely and secure manner.

How much do hackers make on HackerOne?

The amount that HackerOne hackers can make depends on a variety of factors, including their skills and expertise, the number and quality of vulnerabilities they find, and the terms of the bug bounty programs they participate in. 

Some hackers have made millions of dollars through bug bounty programs, while others may never earn a single penny. Bug bounty programs are not a guaranteed source of income, and hackers may need to participate in multiple programs or engage in other activities to supplement their income.