About three months ago I signed up with HackerOne, and created a bug bounty program for my WordPoints plugin. I’m writing this post to document my experience with HackerOne, for anyone else who may be thinking of using it.
When you first create your program, it is private. This gives you time to tweak things and gain some familiarity with the system. You also have the opportunity to invite up to 100 of the top hackers to participate and the private pre-launch program. I did invite all 100 (though not all at once), but there wasn’t any activity. That is probably because I hadn’t set a minimum bounty amount yet.
Last Friday I decided to make the program public. This timing roughly corresponded with the release of WordPoints 1.7.0, which included some security fixes that I’d discovered on my own.
What should you expect when you launch publicly? I got 15 bug reports in the first 24 hours, and about a third of them were probably in the first couple hours after launching.
The reason for the immediate spike in activity (of which there had been none previously), is probably due at least in part to my having set a minimum bounty (though this was only $25).
Of those 15 reports, most of them were low quality. The reporter obviously hadn’t read the program description, and didn’t know what kind of bugs I was looking for and what sort of vulnerabilities I would consider invalid. Of those 15, only two were vulnerabilities that actually needed fixing. I’ve received 4 more reports this week, but none of them have been valid source code vulnerabilities either.
So, now you know what you can expect with your first week after launching a bug bounty program on HackerOne. I suspect that if you wanted to avoid the first-minute slew of reports, you could wait until later to set a minimum bounty amount.
All in all, I am very pleased with HackerOne. The UI is great and has the tools you need to respond quickly. I think also that report quality will probably increase as better researchers join in in an unhurried manner. Well, at least if I decide to increase the bounty in the future. :-)