Human-Powered Security: The Value of Ethical Hackers & Bug Bounty

Human Powered Security The Value Of Ethical Hackers Bug Bounty

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What Is an Ethical Hacker?

An ethical hacker is a cybersecurity professional who uses their skills and knowledge in hacking to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in computer systems, networks, or applications.

These hackers have permission from the organization to conduct “good faith” security testing, and they work within the boundaries of legal and ethical frameworks. Their primary goal is to help organizations improve their security by discovering and reporting these vulnerabilities.

Ethical hackers use various tools, techniques, and methodologies to simulate real-world cyberattacks and assess the target system’s security posture. They often collaborate with the organization’s IT and security teams to remediate the identified vulnerabilities and prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.

What Is a Bug Bounty?

A bug bounty is a monetary reward given to ethical hackers for responsibly discovering and reporting a vulnerability or bug to the application’s developer. Bug bounty programs allow companies to leverage the hacker community to improve their systems’ security posture continuously.

Organizations create bug bounties to provide financial incentives to independent ethical hackers who discover security vulnerabilities and weaknesses in systems. When an ethical hacker reports a valid bug, the organization pays them for their efforts to discover the security gaps before a bad actor.

Once a hacker discovers a bug, they complete a disclosure report that details exactly what the bug is, how it impacts the application, and what level of severity it ranks. The hacker includes key steps and details to help developers replicate and validate the bug. Once the developers review and confirm the bug, the company pays the bounty to the hacker.

How Do You Know You Can Trust Ethical Hackers?

Some of the most common questions prospective customers have about working with hackers are “How do I know I can trust hackers?” and “How do I retain control of my environment?” In fact, half (52%) of security professionals would rather accept the presence of undiscovered vulnerabilities than work with hackers. But, when you’re working within a highly selective and thoroughly vetted ethical hacking marketplace, you can be sure your trust is well-placed.

HackerOne’s solutions provide:

  • Control: Choose top-tier, high-performing hackers for your program, boosting your confidence and ensuring productive partnerships with unfamiliar hackers.
  • Compliance: Selecting hackers who have pre-verified their identity and location for program admission with ID verification and background checks. 
  • Monitoring: Monitor hacker testing activities with consistent egress IPs, confidently reducing security alerts by effectively distinguishing between legitimate hacker traffic and genuine threats.

How Do Ethical Hackers Help With My Budget?

A common thread in our discussions with security leaders is their use of ethical hackers to help address budgetary strains and challenges in their security programs.

  • Supplement internal skills: It’s simply not possible to retain full-time employees with all of the necessary skills to keep your organization safe. The diverse ethical hacking community is on hand to provide those skills you’re missing without bringing on additional full-time staff.
  • Address unidentified risks: Having a large, diverse group of security experts continuously evaluating your attack surface dramatically increases the chances of finding unexpected weaknesses, allowing your team to address them before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Do more with less: Engaging with the ethical hacker community is an easy way to improve security testing coverage while controlling costs and saving time. The breadth of testing skills available is far greater than any security team can retain in-house.

How Are Other Organizations Using Bug Bounty Programs?


Yelp connects searchers to great local businesses worldwide. Yelp has used HackerOne since 2014 to manage its bounty program. Seeing the value in the hacker community, Yelp has tens of different domains in scope, including everything from mobile apps to email systems. To date, Yelp has used its bug bounty program to fix nearly 400 vulnerabilities and continues to add new applications and domains to its roadmap. 


KAYAK empowers its users to compare hundreds of travel sites at once. Having launched its bug bounty program in 2022, KAYAK has already paid out over $150,000 in bounties and has already resolved over 450 reported bugs.


Basecamp is a leading online project management system, and since launching their bug bounty program with HackerOne in 2020, they’ve paid out over $300,000 in bounties for reports across 10+ different web and mobile apps in their scope. 

Human-Powered Security With HackerOne

By utilizing human-powered, community-driven security with HackerOne, you’ll tap into a legion of ethical hackers to pinpoint application vulnerabilities and minimize your threat exposure around the clock.

  • Continuous vigilance for your growing attack surface: Keep watchful eyes on your expanding digital landscape at all times including applications, cloud assets, APIs, IoT, and software supply chain.
  • Catch exploits that automated tools miss: Flag elusive vulnerability classes that only human ingenuity and precision can uncover and avoid the false positives that come from automated scanners.
  • Scale the reach of your security team: Access security skills that align with your technology stack and free up resources to focus on more strategic initiatives.

To learn more about the state of security vulnerabilities in your industry and the value of human-powered security, download the 7th Annual Hacker-Powered Security Report.


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