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How my personal Bug Bounty Program turned into a Free Security Audit for the Ser ...

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HackerOne is currently one of the most popular bug bounty program platforms. While the usual providers of bug bounty programs are companies, w while ago I noted that some people were running bug bounty programs on Hacker One for their private projects without payouts. It made me curious, so I decided to start one with some of my private web pages in scope.

The HackerOne process requires programs to be private at first, starting with a limited number of invites. Soon after I started the program the first reports came in. Not surprisingly I got plenty of false positives, which I tried to limit by documenting the scope better in the program description. I also got plenty of web security scanner payloads via my contact form. But more to my surprise I also got a number of very high quality reports.


How my personal Bug Bounty Program turned into a Free Security Audit for the Ser ...

This blog and two other sites in scope use Serendipity (also called S9Y), a blog software written in php. Through the bug bounty program I got reports for an Open Redirect , an XSS in the start page , an XSS in the back end , an SQL injection in the back end and another SQL injection in the freetag plugin . All of those were legitimate vulnerabilities in Serendipity and some of them quite severe. I forwarded the reports to the Serendipity developers.

Fixes are available by now, the first round of fixes were released with Serendipity 2.1.3 and another issue got fixed in 2.1.4 . The freetag plugin was updated to version 2.69 . If you use Serendipity please make sure you run the latest versions.

I'm not always happy with the way the bug bounty platforms work, yet it seems they have attracted an active community of security researchers who are also willing to occasionally look at projects without financial reward. While it's questionable when large corporations run bug bounty programs without rewards, I think that it's totally fine for private projects and volunteer-run free and open source projects.

The conclusion I take from this is that likely more projects should try to make use of the bug bounty community. Essentially Serendipity got a free security audit and is more secure now. It got this through the indirection of my personal bug bounty program, but of course this could also work directly. Free software projects could start their own bug bounty program, and when it's about web applications ideally they should have have a live installation of their own product in scope.

In case you find some security issue with my web pages I welcome reports . And special thanks to Brian Carpenter (Geeknik), Julio Cesar and oreamnos for making my blog more secure.


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