GitHub Paid $166,000 in Bug Bounties in 2017

Git repository hosting service GitHub paid a total of $166,495 in rewards in 2017 to security researchers reporting vulnerabilities as part of its four year old bug bounty program.

Total payouts more than doubled compared to the $81,700 paid in 2016 and were nearly equal to the total bounties paid during the first three years of the program: $177,000. During the first two years of the program, the company paid $95,300 in bug bounties.

Throughout the year, the company received a total of 840 submissions to the program, but resolved and rewarded only 121 of them (15%). In 2016, GitHub rewarded 73 of the 795 valid reports it received, with only 48 submissions being deemed high enough to appear on bug bounty program’s page.

The number of valid reports fueled the increase in total payouts and also resulted in GitHub re-evaluating its payout structure in October 2017. Thus, the bug bounties were doubled, with the minimum and maximum payouts now at $555 and $20,000.

With the program continuously growing participation by researchers, program initiatives, and the rewards paid out, 2017 proved the biggest year yet, GitHub’s Greg Ose points out.

Last year, the company also announced the introduction of GitHub Enterprise to the bug bounty program, allowing researchers to find vulnerabilities in areas that may not be exposed on GitHub.com or which are specific to enterprise deployments.

“In the beginning of 2017, a number of reports impacting our enterprise authentication methods prompted us to not only focus on this internally, but also identify how we could engage researchers to focus on this functionality,” Ose notes.

He also says GitHub has launched its first researcher grant, an initiative the company has been long focused on. This effort involves paying “a fixed amount to a researcher to dig into a specific feature or area of the application.” Any discovered vulnerability would also be rewarded through the Bug Bounty program.

Last year, GitHub also rolled out private bug bounties, which allowed it to limit the impact of vulnerabilities in production. The company also rolled out internal improvements to the program, to more efficiently triage and remediate submissions and plans on refining the process in 2018 as well.

GitHub is looking to expand the initiatives that proved successful in 2017, launching more private bounties and research grants to gain focus on various features before and after they publicly launch. The company also plans additional promotions later this year.

“Given the program’s success, we’re also looking to see how we can expand its scope to help secure our production services and protect GitHub’s ecosystem. We’re excited for what’s next and look forward to triaging and fixing your submissions this year,” Ose concludes.

Related: GitHub Warns Developers When Using Vulnerable Libraries

Related: Hackers Earn Big Bounties for GitHub Enterprise Flaws

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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