Triage: The not-so-secret hack to impactful bug bounty programs 

By Anna Hammond

May 23, 2024

Triage: The not-so-secret hack to impactful bug bounty programs 

At the core of every thriving bug bounty platform lies its triage team. These teams evaluate vulnerability reports, deciding on escalation and prioritization. Moreover, they ensure all the vital information reaches the relevant people promptly. Think about the operator you’d speak to when calling emergency services—it’s an essential role yet often sits quietly behind the scenes. 

You may already know that bug bounty programs tend to require a larger upfront investment than an in-house or internal bug bounty program. One reason for this is the addition of triage services and the huge amount of value they bring to businesses. Let’s dive into the how’s and why’s below. 

But first, do you really need triage with your bug bounty program? 

When considering whether you need triage services, think about the impact for your security team if you could: 

  • Remove time spent on validating submissions, filtering out duplicates, and ranking vulnerabilities by severity. 

  • Maintain a highly communicative relationship with your community without adding to your team’s busy work schedules. 

  • Boost morale and empower your employees to focus on business-as-usual tasks rather than chasing missing information or answering questions. 

Found yourself nodding along to one or more of these points? Then having a triage team in place is going to make running your bug bounty program significantly easier. We’ll explore each one of these points in more detail below. 

4 ways triage teams benefit bug bounty programs 

Intigriti’s triage team is the glue between our researchers and our customers. As security analysts themselves, they are perfectly suited to facilitate communication and provide support to both parties, ensuring seamless collaboration and enablement in both directions. Here’s four ways they benefit organizations running a bug bounty program:

1. Validating submissions 

Triaging is a full-time job, hence why bug bounty platforms dedicate an entire team of security analysts to it to uplift the responsibility from their customers. The main responsibilities of a triager once a vulnerability has been submitted to a program is to: 

  • Deem whether the vulnerability is reproducible 

  • Ensure the vulnerability is genuine and in-scope, declining those that are out of scope 

  • Review the information included in the report and request more information, where necessary 

  • Assess the severity of the vulnerability with respect to its risk and security impact in the context of the organization it was reported against 

  • Check that the submission is unique and remove duplicates 

  • Be the go-between for client and security researcher, providing mediation during times of discord. 

While this process may seem linear on the surface, the end-to-end journey of a bug bounty report might look like this:

Asking internal teams to absorb these tasks into their existing workloads is unrealistic and unsustainable for most businesses and is likely to cause stress and potential burnout. Taking care of this process for clients removes the pressure off internal security teams, allowing them to focus on business-critical tasks and strengthen their attack surface. 

As Arnau Estebanell Castellví, Senior Security Engineer of Personio, says: “The incredible triage team at Intigriti may not be listed as a feature, but they are certainly our favorite aspect. Numerous times, after assessing a researcher’s submission, I’ve turned to the internal chat with a question, only to discover that the team had already proactively addressed my concerns without me even asking.” 

2. Communication is a full-time job in itself 

To keep momentum on a program, it’s important to be available to researchers in real-time. In fact, security researchers place a lot of weight on this and 41% of them choose not to, or prefer not to, work with companies outside of a bug bounty platform primarily due to the lack of a triage department. 

Since 70% of bug bounty communities are in full (37%) or part-time (8%) work elsewhere or studying (25%), they may need assistance on a vulnerability report in out-of-office hours. By not hearing back from a program in a timely manner, they can understandably lose interest. 

Our dedicated support team is available around the clock, every day of the week, to provide prompt assistance to researchers. With an impressive average response time of one hour, they facilitate seamless workflow, allowing researchers to promptly submit vulnerability reports to programs. This unparalleled level of responsiveness not only boosts our reputation but also attracts more hackers to our platform, ultimately delivering tangible results for our customers. 

3. Community engagement 

Having a strong and seamless triage process in place is vital for keeping our community happy and engaged at Intigriti. Further, it is often what helps spread the word about our platform, bringing a continuous stream of new and emerging hacking talent to deliver vulnerability reports to our customers’ programs. 

So, how do we ensure we give our community a positive experience and keep them engaged? We follow the Intigriti code: 

  1. Operate fairly and transparently: True to our company values, treat every customer and researcher with integrity and openness. 

  1. Prioritize quality over quantity: Ensure customers only receive high-quality reports, coaching researchers to achieve this independently. 

  1. Continuously evolve: Adapt our process in real-time (based on customer and researcher feedback) to consistently enhance the value we deliver. 

4. Team morale 

Having a reliable triage team in place not only streamlines your bug bounty program but also significantly boosts team morale. By removing the burden of triaging from your internal security team, you empower them to focus on essential tasks, fostering a sense of accomplishment and productivity.  

With Intigriti’s triage services, your team can trust that vulnerabilities are handled swiftly and efficiently, allowing them to approach their work with renewed energy and enthusiasm.  

How Intigriti’s triaging services work 

Intigriti bug bounty programs offer triage services by default—meaning you won’t be met with an unexpected cost. This security validation process is executed by our in-house security analysts and ensures clients only receive valid, unique and in scope vulnerability reports.  

To learn more about Intigriti’s triage team and customer support, speak to one of our advisors today

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