Bug Bounty Benefits | Why You Need a Bug Bounty Program


We explain how a bug bounty program identifies vulnerabilities, discuss the program’s benefits, and detail its challenges.


What Are the Benefits of Bug Bounties?

A bug bounty program is a cost-effective way for an organization to pinpoint security risks and vulnerabilities. The program allows organizations to have diverse and experienced ethical hackers proactively identifying weaknesses for remediation.

What Exactly Is a Bug Bounty Program?

A bug bounty program provides a financial incentive to ethical hackers when they successfully disclose a vulnerability to the application’s developer. Hackers work with organizations to discover vulnerabilities before attackers do. Bug bounty programs are a popular way for organizations to continuously leverage the hacker community to improve their security. Hackers from around the world often earn full-time incomes hunting bugs for various organizations.

When hackers discover vulnerabilities, they produce reports that outline the bug’s severity and details. This information helps developers verify the exposure and improve remediation time. Bug bounty programs also offer retesting, where developers can request hackers manually test post-patch deployment.

How Does a Bug Bounty Program Work?

Organizations start their programs by setting their scope. Scope outlines which applications, networks, and systems are available for hackers to probe. Bounty programs can be either public or private, with private programs offering an invite-only option. 

Knowing what systems are in scope allows businesses to select hackers with specific domain expertise. Private programs offer more control over who performs the tests while keeping reports and submissions confidential.

Public bug bounty programs are visible to the entire hacker community and can drive many new bug submissions. This is ideal for businesses looking to move quickly but can overwhelm small security teams that aren’t ready to receive a wave of additional reports.

Bounty programs test both internal and external applications and networks depending on the scope. Public programs typically cover web servers, mobile apps, and public API libraries. 

Private programs allow organizations to hand-pick hackers through an invite-only program to search for bugs in internal applications and across the intranet. Private programs typically include database servers, private cloud environments, and Active Directory servers within scope. They are often set up so that organizations can learn to handle a large number of submissions or if they are more conservative about sharing their vulnerabilities and prefer to keep them in-house.

Private programs are kept confidential. Details of the program and the vulnerabilities discovered are kept private. Hackers can only see these programs when they receive invitations to hack on them. 

Bug Bounty Benefits

Bug bounty programs use hackers to provide continuous system scanning and testing. Bug bounty programs are flexible and can operate throughout the year or have a fixed deadline. A hacker-driven program incentivizes a talented and diverse group of professionals worldwide to provide a thorough and unique analysis of a system’s security.

Organizations only pay hackers upon successful vulnerability disclosure, with each payment reflecting the bug’s severity. 

Bug bounty programs immediately complement vulnerability scans and will often uncover higher severity bugs. Most vulnerability scans use automation rather than human creativity to discover flaws in a system, leaving some vulnerabilities undiscovered.

A best practice is to use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) that captures the characteristics of security flaws and displays a numerical score reflecting its severity. Ranking the severity of a bug with a standard scoring system helps organizations better understand their environments, and structure bounty ranges for the hackers that discover them.


  • Bug bounties have flexible pricing to fit different budgets.
  • Bug bounties attract a wider audience with diverse expertise.
  • Bug bounties only pay once a hacker discloses a vulnerability.

Working with bounty programs allows organizations to use the hacker community to help identify and disclose security flaws in exchange for payment. Bounty payments range in proportion to the severity of the vulnerability discovered. 

Working with Hackers 

Using a bounty program is a cost-effective way to improve cybersecurity because organizations only pay when bugs are submitted and validated. Rather than relying on a single security professional, bug bounty programs attract hackers with diverse backgrounds and varying degrees of experience to improve security. Having access to the global hacker community ensures that all assets in scope are tested thoroughly.

How HackerOne Bounty Can Help

HackerOne harnesses the world’s largest and most diverse community of hackers to help keep businesses safe by providing an all-in-one platform to launch bug bounty programs. The  HackerOne Bounty takes a streamlined approach to find and remediate bugs while supporting everything from disclosure to payout in a single dashboard. Launch your bounty program today.


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