CREST report highlights overriding requirement for Bug Bounty Best Practice

Bug Bounty programmes are in urgent need of defined Best Practices and Codes of Conduct. That’s the conclusion of CREST, the not-for-profit accreditation body representing the technical information security industry, in its latest position report entitled ‘Bug Bounties: Working Towards a Fairer and Safer Marketplace’.

A Bug Bounty programme is a deal offered by many websites and software developers by which individuals can receive recognition and compensation for reporting bugs, especially those pertaining to exploits and vulnerabilities.

With rapid growth in the Bug Bounty marketplace, the new CREST report explores good and bad practice to establish how to better understand Bug Bounty programmes and how they fit into the wider technical assurance framework. It also highlights the need to provide advice to buyers of Bug Bounty services and protect the interests of ‘hunters’ participating in programmes.

Bug Bounties are becoming deeply embedded into the information security industry, with technology giants such as Microsoft, Google and IBM now running their own programmes. There’s also a rise in Bug Bounty platforms offering anything from a simple listing and introduction between hunter and organisation, to a fully-managed service, including the triage and reward processes. Adoption is increasing remarkably fast and expectations are that this situation will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

“We urgently need to define the requirements around Bug Bounty programmes so that everyone knows what ‘good’ looks like and we can protect researchers, organisations and the Bug Bounty platform operators,” said Ian Glover, president at CREST. “Organisations must carefully consider whether they are ready to run a Bug Bounty programme and give careful consideration to whether they run it internally or with the help of a specialist platform. With a lot of opportunities for Bug Bounties to go wrong, the maturity required to run a successful programme should not be underestimated.”

Glover added: “While it’s largely agreed that regulation would be incredibly difficult to impose, there’s a need to define Best Practice and reconsider Codes of Conduct. We need to put measures in place to protect all parties involved in the Bug Bounty marketplace to avoid trouble ahead.”

The CREST report is based on collaborative research including interviews and Workshops with Bug Bounty stakeholders and participants. CREST is committed to building on the findings of this initial study to work towards an improved future for Bug Bounty hunters and programmes.

*To view the report visit

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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