Running a Bug Bounty Program Without Spending a Fortune


Bug bounty programs have emerged as a crucial cybersecurity measure, allowing organizations to harness the skills of the security community in identifying and resolving vulnerabilities before malicious actors can exploit them. While many opt for popular bug bounty platforms, these can come with hefty price tags. In this blog post, we’ll explore the steps to establish a successful and cost-effective bug bounty initiative without relying on expensive vendors.

Clearly Define Objectives and Scope

Before starting your bug bounty program, set clear objectives and scope. Determine which assets and systems are in-scope for testing and be transparent about your expectations from participants. Outline the types of vulnerabilities you’re interested in and specify any restrictions or rules during testing.

Prepare Legal and Ethical Guidelines

Craft comprehensive legal agreements and ethical guidelines that participants must follow throughout the bug bounty program. These documents should outline the rules, the reward structure, and the responsibilities of both your organization and the researchers. Consult with legal professionals to ensure compliance with local regulations and to safeguard all parties’ interests.

Build a Secure Platform for Submission

Create a secure platform where researchers can submit their findings and communicate with your security team. There are many alternatives here but keeping it simple for researchers while deterring spammers is the holly grail. I have tried a bunch of solutions and to be honest the best so far is a well crafted Google form.

Respond to Reports

Having an internal security team to manage and assess submissions is vital for the success of your program. They should be skilled in cybersecurity, capable of verifying reported vulnerabilities, and assigning appropriate rewards. Utilizing your existing team can be more cost-effective than relying on external vendors.

Set Reasonable Rewards

Offering competitive rewards is essential for attracting talented researchers to your program. Conduct market research to gauge average payouts for various types of vulnerabilities and set rewards accordingly. Remember that recognition and swag, in addition to monetary rewards, can also be appealing incentives for researchers.

Foster a Positive Community Culture

Promote a positive and respectful culture within your bug bounty community. Promptly acknowledge submissions, maintain open lines of communication, and express gratitude for researchers’ efforts. Treat participants as valuable allies in securing your systems, not adversaries.

Utilize Cost-Effective Promotion Strategies

Without the need for popular vendors’ expensive platforms, focus on cost-effective promotion strategies. Utilize your company’s website, blog, and social media to spread the word about your bug bounty program. Engage with the cybersecurity community through forums and mailing lists to raise awareness effectively.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly review and refine your bug bounty program based on feedback from researchers and your internal security team. Continuous improvement is essential to keep the program effective and relevant in the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, and it doesn’t require additional costs associated with external platforms.

You Can Do It

Running a cost-effective bug bounty program without relying on expensive vendors demands thoughtful planning, commitment, and investment in your internal resources. By clearly defining objectives, setting up a secure submission platform, and fostering a positive community culture, your organization can leverage the security community’s expertise to identify and resolve vulnerabilities without breaking the bank. Remember, the success of your bug bounty program lies in the trust you build with researchers and the dedication to making your digital assets more secure in a financially responsible manner.

If you’re looking for a user-friendly and cost-effective solution to create and run your bug bounty program, consider using Blimp. We offer a budget-friendly alternative to popular bug bounty platforms, enabling you to efficiently manage submissions, engage with the security community, and continuously improve the security of your systems while keeping costs in check.