Benefits of Bug Bounty Programs to Build Transparency and Improve Accountability

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Over the past decade, most businesses across the globe have been on a transformation spree across all operational areas. Meanwhile, a McKinsey report highlights that COVID-19 has sped up digital transformation and technologies by several years–and many of the changes could be here for the long haul. However, this has significantly increased reliance on third parties, specifically cloud providers, APIs, IoT, and the unchecked expansion of shadow IT, resulting in multiple data breaches. IT security complexity remains a challenge for organisations as they try to balance existing and new technology deployments and the ever-evolving and malicious threat landscape. Current tools or solutions to manage third-party risk are still not considered adequate.

Even though boards are beginning to understand that cyberattacks are business risks and not just IT risks, most business leaders across various functions – from finance to procurement and operations – cannot prepare teams and protect the organisation’s information, processes, and procedures. Security leaders now have the opportunity to deliver value in “hard dollars” (direct & indirect savings) and create better accountability through transparency.

Bug bounty programs can help to seamlessly highlight security gaps within applications and infrastructure, which helps drive continuous improvement. Besides, since every interaction is tracked, stored and monitored through the platform, bug bounty programs increase traceability and hence transparency. This helps to improve accountability between the business, IT and security teams to create a robust organisation. Doing so will build trust, help identify vulnerable areas, develop the right response plans, and keep cybercriminals at bay.

Here are three ways bug bounty programs bring business and cybersecurity leaders together to build transparency and improve accountability within the organisation.

Improve Collaboration Between Teams to Enhance Security

Most forward-looking organisations have adopted an agile methodology to build, test, and release software faster and more reliably. However, there is constant friction between development and security teams. Security mandates are deemed to be unnecessarily intrusive and a cause of delayed application development and deployment. DevSecOps is in the early stages of mainstream adoption as per Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Agile and DevOps, 2020. Just as the development team thinks that DevOps isn’t any single person’s job – it’s everyone’s job; CISOs are trying hard to create a culture of building applications designed to be secure.

Sometimes, developers don’t often have the time, tools, skills or motivation to write impeccably secure code. Bug bounty programs provide a “fact-based” financial implication of inherent security flaws within the process. This makes it possible to hold development teams and service providers accountable for creating or delivering insecure products, thus addressing inherent security gaps within the business units and helps to drive continuous improvement. On the positive side, it’s a way of recognising progress.

Deezer, a French online music streaming service, adopted bug bounty to protect artists from any fraud relating to the platform. Romain Lods, Head of Engineering at Deezer, recommends tools such as bug bounty to minimise the dependency on legacy systems, which are more complex to secure afterwards. “As a general rule, it’s better to know your security flaws when you start a project, rather than wait until there are too many to deal with, after you’ve made (bad) choices of architectures. We see an increased awareness of security. Bug bounty reports helped us trigger some major security projects. Our cybersecurity vision and posture have evolved, and bug bounty is one of the drivers of this change,” advises Romain.

Avoid Procurement Related Security Risks

The days businesses choose, install and run software without any due diligence are numbered since third-party software and open-source components are prime targets for cybercriminals. Most IT departments and procurement teams spend a considerable amount of time, budget and resources to run a meaningful vendor software testing program. Many organisations don’t think twice before blacklisting providers who create too many bugs and are expensive or risky due to security concerns. On the other hand, vendors can help their customers meet this requirement and accelerate the process through their own bug bounty programs. They can highlight the safety of their products, eliminate security concerns and, in fact, drive faster sales closures.

For instance, Europe’s leading publisher of cybersecurity solutions decided to move to continuous monitoring to improve the security of their applications and reassure their customers. “We are often asked searching questions about our security guarantees. However, the conversation completely changes when we talk to clients about our bug bounty program with YesWeHack. The fact that experts are continuously testing our applications reassured them immediately. In my opinion, every company that develops software should implement bug bounty programs. It’s a necessary step if you want to deliver both a secure and scalable software solution,” highlighted a security expert from the company.

Measure the Impact of Security Audits

Most organisations struggle to understand how much they spend on security audits and if the security spend translates to a reduction in the attack surface or the organisation’s risk exposure. The bug bounty model is platform driven and results-oriented, providing the necessary data to create a transparent process. Organisations can measure the impact of their security spend since they pay only for valid reports according to their security requirements and the actual severity of each bug, and everything is tracked on the platform. This helps to understand the performance of the security audit and creates a shared understanding of related costs when communicated with the business stakeholders. For instance, an Information System Security Expert of a major European financial institution shared that two pentests missed an eighteen-month-old critical flaw which was identified within just an hour after launching the bug bounty program with YesWeHack.

“I’ve been pentesting critical sites for years and getting empty or nearly empty reports in return. We were paying because it was our policy, and we needed to meet our compliance requirements, but it brought us nothing, or almost nothing more, in terms of security. With YesWeHack’s bug bounty program, we gave the Operational Security team direct access to our program. This way, our colleagues can see the vulnerabilities as soon as they’re validated. Also, our developers can interact directly with the hunters,” he added.

Apart from building transparency and improving accountability within the organisation, several other benefits include reducing security costs and freeing valuable resources across the organisation. To understand how you can maximise the return on investment (ROI) of bug bounty programs, download the eBook on “Five Reasons Why Bug Bounty Improves the Return on Security Investments“.

A 2020 Cyber Readiness Report highlighted that companies lost $1.8 billion to cybercrime in 2019. Failures and abuses of security, privacy, and trust are rising as businesses worldwide accelerate digital transformation. Access to security experts who can work with you closely and identify threats quickly is the need of the hour. Here are the benefits of bug bounty programs that give your business the much-needed security reality check.


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

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 more than 25,000 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