Widespread Bug Bounty Program Could Help Harden Open Source Security

March 7, 2017 @ 1:30 PM
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2 min read

One company is adding to its bug bounty program efforts by offering its professional services to the open source community for free. HackerOne’s platform, known as HackerOne Community Edition, will help open source software teams create a comprehensive approach to vulnerability management, including a bug bounty program.

Many developers have bounty programs to offer rewards and recognition for individuals who find exploits and vulnerabilities in applications. HackerOne’s services aim to harden security approaches and provide benefits for the many organizations that now rely on open source products.

The Open Source Community Joins the Hunt

According to CSO Online, HackerOne Community Edition provides vulnerability submission, coordination, dupe detection, analytics and bounty programs for projects. The subscription service will allow developers and white-hat hackers to submit vulnerability reports.

Eligible projects must be active, at least three months old and covered by an Open Source Initiative (OSI) license, which stipulates that software can be freely used, modified and shared. The free service does not include dedicated customer support, but documentation is available online.

Existing open source projects, such as Ruby, Django and GitLab, have resolved over 1,200 vulnerabilities on the platform, CSO Online reported. Additionally, according to bit-tech, Rockstar Games recently launched its first public security vulnerability bug bounty program in partnership with HackerOne.

Bug Bounty Program to Make the Internet Safer

HackerOne’s key aim is to make the internet safer, the firm stated on its blog. As part of this objective, the company is keen to support open source developments in their efforts to run secure programs.

HackerOne already runs the Internet Bug Bounty program, which is also sponsored by Facebook and Microsoft. The program is managed by a panel of volunteers selected from the security community, who define the rules and allocate bounties.

Jono Bacon, a community strategist and previous director of community at Canonical, GitHub and XPRIZE, was quoted in the HackerOne blog post. He recognized that open source is now a key component of how organizations consume technology, suggesting that these efforts would help ensure that a bug bounty program remains in the workflow.

Focusing a Thousand Eyes

Infosecurity Magazine reported that high-profile flaws, such as Heartbleed and Poodle, have generated a growing awareness that many IT industry tools rely on open source platforms. Access to a bug bounty platform could help researchers harden their security efforts and avoid these potentially damaging holes.

Open source projects often rely on the “thousand eyes” concept when it comes to software security, InfoWorld reported. In other words, open accessibility to the code should mean flaws are spotted and fixed faster.

However, such issues can only be fixed if they are noticed. Open source developers are pulled in many directions, and security testing often happens sporadically. HackerOne may help solve the visibility problem by giving the thousand eyes a place to look and a potential bounty for their efforts.

Mark Samuels
Tech Journalist

Mark Samuels is an experienced business technology journalist with an outstanding track record in research. He specializes in the role of chief information o...
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