GitHub’s Bug Bounty program is now five years old and to mark the occasion it has revamped the program’s scope, rewards, and new legal rules.
In 2018 the company paid out US$250,000 to researchers. $75,000 of that came from HackerOne’s H1-702 live hacking event in the US last year, when researchers found 43 vulnerabilities. One of those vulnerabilities was a critical severity vulnerability that was found in GitHub Enterprise Server.
Moving forward to 2019, GitHub is expanding the Bug Bounty program’s scope to include vulnerabilities in all first party services under github.com. Those services include includes GitHub Education, GitHub Learning Lab GitHub Jobs, and our GitHub Desktop application.
GitHub’s Enterprise Server scope has also expanded to include Enterprise Cloud.
“It’s not just about our user-facing systems. The security of our users’ data also depends on the security of our employees and our internal systems. That’s why we’re also including all first-party services under our employee-facing githubapp.com and github.net domains,” writes GitHub’s Philip Turnbull.
The Bug Bounty’s reward system has also been expanded at all levels, not just the ones at critical severity level. Furthermore, there is now maximum reward amount for a critical vulnerability as GitHub aims to reward more for cutting-edge research.
The new reward system for vulnerabilities is:
“We also recognise that finding higher-severity vulnerabilities in GitHub’s products is becoming increasingly difficult for researchers and they should be rewarded for their efforts,” says Turnbull.
Finally, GitHub has introduced Legal Safe Harbor terms to its site policy to protect bounty researchers from legal risks.
Turnbull explains the three main sources of legal risk below.
Turnbull adds that other organisations are welcome to look to these terms as an industry example of safe harbour best practices.
“We encourage others to freely adopt, use, and modify them to fit their own bounty programs. In creating these terms, we aim to go beyond the current standards for safe harbor programs and provide researchers with the best protection from criminal, civil, and third-party legal risks. The terms have been reviewed by expert security researchers, and are the product of many months of legal research and review of other legal safe harbor programs.”