What is a Bug Bounty and How is it Helpful in Securing Smart Contracts?

by ImmuneBytes
Bug Bounty: What it is

A smart contract is not easy to code, and neither is easy to debug. Finding a vulnerability in a smart contract codebase is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack! And no, we’re not exaggerating. 

Being a smart contract auditing company, our job is to dissect the code and look for bugs that can’t be seen. This, however, requires plenty of resources. As the industry embraces technological advancements, cybercriminals grow more and more sophisticated in their ways, making it even harder to prevent them from playing their game.

That’s where bug bounties act as knights in shining armor for an organization! A bug bounty program allows organizations to leverage the hacker community to help find and disclose vulnerabilities in exchange for payment. Sounds fair, right?

In this blog, we’re exploring all about Bug Bounties and the role they play in smart contract security.

What are Bug Bounty Programs?

Bug Bounty Programs

A bug bounty program is an event where ethical hackers help businesses detect vulnerabilities before the bad guys beat them to them. 

In other words, running a bug bounty program is getting ahead of the game by being proactive and predictive. It is an alternative way to detect software and configuration errors that can slip past developers and security teams and later lead to bigger problems.

These ethical hackers look for vulnerabilities and give the hiring companies detailed instructions on how to fix those vulnerabilities in return for monetary compensation and points, depending on the platform that the program is running on. 

bug bounty for smart contracts is not that different from a typical bug bounty for a web application. 

In its true nature, a smart contract is an application that runs on blockchain. Every application has vulnerabilities, and smart contracts are no exception. To be, say, a Solidity smart contract bug hunter, if the smart contract is developed in Solidity, you need to possess the skill sets of a Solidity developer and an application security engineer. 

The 2 paramount skills you require to hunt bugs are: Understanding the code and finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in it.

What are the different types of Bug Bounties?

There are two types of bug bounties that an organization can start. A public bug bounty program and a private one. Let’s see what those are.

  • Public: It is posted on a public platform and anyone that signs up on that platform can engage in the program. Going public is beneficial when you want maximum feedback and exposure and you’re not looking to hide anything on your application. It can also be a bit more cost-effective than a private program because you’re not bringing in specialists who expect a higher rate.
  • Private: When you select specific researchers, usually who have very good reputations and who have been vetted to engage in a bug bounty program. This will not be open to the public and will be “invite-only”.The advantage here is that it will offer you a higher level of expertise and you are minimizing the amount of exposure your application has to outsiders. However, you can expect these to be more expensive and time-consuming to organize than a public bug bounty program. 

It is better to weigh your options and pick the type that will benefit you the most. Analyze your resources and risks beforehand, then go for it!

Recommend Read: AUDIT OR AUDIT + BUG BOUNTY, OR AUDIT + BUG BOUNTY + INSURANCE: WHAT TO CHOOSE?

What benefits does a Smart Contract Bug Bounty offer?

The benefits associated with a Bug Bounty are numerous, both, for the organization conducting the program and for the people who participate in it. In this article, we’re focusing on how an organization can make the most out of a Bug Bounty program. 

  • You get multiple opinions
    A bug bounty program offers you a wider perspective of looking at your smart contract code and the logical or functional issues that could go wrong. You have more eyes looking for weaknesses, more people with different skill sets and techniques, and researchers with different levels of experience.
  • Relatively Cheap
    But, bug bounty programs can be significantly cheaper. Some bug bounty programs are free and only reward ranking points. It depends on you, how much money you want to put at stake. And likely, the more money you put in, the more effort people will put into hacking your platform. 
  • Scalable
    Bug Bounties are scalable in the sense that, if a researcher doesn’t report anything you don’t have to pay them anything, you don’t pay for duplicates of the same bug, and depending on how important the vulnerability is you can decide how much you pay them. 
  • You make the rules
    One very important feature of Bug Bounties is Customization. You get to decide the parameters of the tests. You’re able to specify what areas of the application are off-limits, how far you want them to take the test, specify the dates of the test, rule out certain types of vulnerabilities, and more. 
  • Test Flexibility
    Bug Bounties also provides the flexibility that many organizations need to meet their testing needs while also keeping various digital projects on schedule without exhausting their resources.

Smart Contracts have many prevalent issues that surface over time, thus, bug bounties prove to help improve the quality of their application by eliminating high-frequency functional bugs before they can do significant damage.

Recommend Read: What is a Smart Contract Security Audit?

Top Bug Bounty Platforms in Smart Contract Space

We have curated a list of top bug bounty platforms that will help you test your skills in the real world.

  1. ImmuneFi: DeFi’s leading bug bounty platform, protecting $25 billion in user funds. They have the largest bug bounties on any platform. Since the start of this year, ImmuneFi has already paid out +$2,000,000 in bounties!
  2. HackenProof: HackenProof helps its customers significantly reduce the risk of losing their data to hackers by running custom-tailored bug bounty programs. The platform connects its customers with the global hacker community to uncover security issues in its products. 
  3. HackerOne: This is another major player when it comes to bug bounties. Many blockchain companies such as ChainLink and Maker host their Bug Bounties on this platform.
  4. Yearn Finance: Yearn Finance is currently running its Bug Bounty Program, with a maximum bounty of a whopping $200,000! The bug bounty program is focused on its smart contracts and is mostly concerned with the prevention of the loss of user funds.
  5. BugCrowd: Bugcrowd was founded in 2011 and is one of the biggest crowdsourced security platforms. Many renowned companies have used it in the past to conduct their bug bounty programs centered around Solidity.

These are a few of the many platforms available for you to showcase your skills in the smart contract development and testing field. 

Final Thoughts

Bug Bounty programs offer a great way to crowdsource security work. You can have the expertise of tens or hundreds of security researchers while only paying a fraction of the cost it would take to recruit them all individually. The benefits they offer are clear in having so many people looking at your product. 

The risks in DeFi and the blockchain industry are vast. One can never be too careful. Thus, these programs are not only beneficial to smaller companies but also to large companies in improving their overall security. Bug bounties are one way to help your business avoid the headlines.

About Us 

ImmuneBytes is facilitating blockchain security by employing the use of cutting-edge techniques on smart contracts and decentralized applications. We have a team of experienced security professionals who are adept at their niches and provide you with innovative solutions and consultation. So far we have worked on 175+ blockchain start-ups on different blockchain frameworks, with clients spread across the globe, and are continually unfolding ourselves to make this decentralized movement thrive.

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