How Bug Bounty Programs Help White-Hat Hackers

June 28, 2024

You might already know about white-hat hackers. Also known as ethical hackers, these superheroes are hired to find vulnerabilities in a network before threat actors can.

By eliminating these zero-day attacks, you can ensure your systems are protected against exploits that you didn’t even know were possible! The more people on the job, the better.

Collaboration between security researchers (including experts at ethical hacking!) and organizations only strengthens these defenses. That’s where bug bounties come in. 

Have you ever discovered a glitch in a website or app that could potentially be a security risk? Even if you aren’t an expert in software vulnerabilities, the average user can tell when a page won’t load correctly or a video starts glitching.

Companies know that they need to find these vulnerable points and patch them before threat actors gain access. Sometimes, they leverage bug bounty programs for help! 

How does it work? Essentially, companies set up a program where they offer money (the bounty) as a reward for people who discover and report bugs, especially security vulnerabilities.

These ethical hackers, also called white-hat hackers or bug bounty hunters, use their skills to find these weaknesses in the company’s software or website. Once a bug is reported, the company can fix it before anyone malicious can take advantage of it. This helps to prevent security breaches and data leaks.

It’s a win-win situation! The company gets a more secure system, and the ethical hacker gets paid for their work.

Bug bounty programs offer a fantastic opportunity for collaboration. Companies get a more secure system, and hackers get to put their skills to good use while earning a reward. It’s a perfect example of how security can be a team effort. In fact, many big organizations like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all participate in bug bounties!

Sometimes money is the best motivator. All that defines bug bounties is how the person hiring approaches it! Instead of putting a specific ethical hacker on the payroll, they put up a bounty for an interested party to fulfill—much like the kings would put out for wanted criminals in days of olde. Any motivated hacker can report the threat instead of exploiting it, which is the key difference between if they wear a white or black hat.

If you need zero-day vulnerabilities found before they’re exploited by threat actors, you might consider a bug bounty program!

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