Bounty Beware

Oh, the world of good ol’ bug-bounty programs. In recent months they’ve become a hot topic for IT teams looking to unearth vulnerabilities.

And it’s easy to see why. They’re flashy and promise the world. Your company gets notified when a vulnerability is detected. The bounty hunter gets paid for the finding. Everybody leaves happy. Well, not really. Here’s why

Like that shiny used car bought from a “reputable dealer,” you need to look under the hood to see what you’re really getting. A bug-bounty program has significant limitations (we’ll break those down in the scenario below) that fall short when stacked up next to continuous penetration testing. DISCLOSURE: We know, Sprocket Security is a firm that specializes in penetration testing. But, it’s just the facts here, ma’am. We won’t deny the allure of bug-bounty programs, but we know the pitfalls.

What’s the difference?


Bug Bounty

If by chance you’re not familiar, bug-bounty programs are fairly straightforward and make sense on the surface.

Companies pay a pool of individuals, or “bounty hunters” (think Mandalorian but maybe not as cool), who uncover bugs and issues that could expose their organization to risk. When an individual reports a valid bug, they’re paid for their finding.

Continuous Penetration Testing

Think of continuous penetration testing as the “always-on” approach using proven methodologies. Experts focused on your organization spend time each month testing the latest hacking techniques and identifying risks your security team doesn’t know exist.

As your organization’s security position matures, continuous penetration testing evolves with the company. Different styles of testing and new approaches will continually target your attack surface.

Here’s one of our favorite ways to think about it. Would you go to the gym on New Year’s Day and consider yourself in shape? No. The same goes for penetration testing. You need to regularly test your network to keep the bad guys out.

Continuous Penetration Testing
vs Bug Bounty

This is a high-level comparison but an important one if you’re considering a bug-bounty program. In coming weeks, we’re going to roll out several articles that break down the differences between continuous penetration testing and bug-bounty programs.

With that said, I’ll leave you with this: Times have changed. No longer can you test your security posture just once a year (traditional pen testing) or trust anonymous bounty hunters who are limited in what they offer.

If you have questions or want to have a candid discussion about the difference, contact us any time.