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Yelp Offers Up To $15K Per Bug Via New Bounty Program

2016-09-06 14:55
Reviews site building off previous success with private bug bounty program to launch new public program.

Online reviews company Yelp is taking its vulnerability management game to the next level with the launch today of its new bug bounty program. The company announced that it's throwing open the doors to the security community at large and inviting researchers to comb through its sites and apps for security flaws and that it'll pay up to $15,000 for the riskiest vulnerabilities they find. 

Developed and managed with the help of HackerOne, this new bounty program is a follow-up for Yelp after it dipped its toes in the water with a private program that it ran for two years prior to this.

"We worked with academic researchers and bug hunters from all over the world and, as a result, we have fixed over a hundred vulnerabilities and paid bug bounties to dozens of security experts," explains Martin Georgiev, security engineer for Yelp. "We’ve now opened the bug bounty up publicly to encourage researchers to test more areas of our site and apps. Many companies are doing private programs right now, but we’re confident in our ability to engage with researchers and manage reports, so we wanted to open up a public program to encourage more participation."

The public payout maximum is a significant increase over the company's payouts offered during its initial private bug bounty program. During the last two years it has been paying an average of $500, with a top bounty of $2,000. That program yielded $65,160 in total payouts, so the firm is committing to a much bigger bounty investment in the future. With regard to performance, the previous program had Yelp responding to researchers within 12 hours and resolving issues and paying out bounties within about 15 days, on average. 

The scope of the public program will include Yelp's consumer site, its business owner's site, mobile apps, and its reservations site and apps. It will also include the firm's public API, support site, and its blogs. It won't include the Eat24 properties, any newly acquired sites and companies or issues related to software not under the company's control. The firm encourages researchers to bring out their big guns, but avoid breaking things in the process, such as through DDoS attempts. At a minimum, the company will offer up $100 for all accepted reports and payouts ratchet up to the maximum based on the severity of issues found.

This latest announcement by Yelp is yet another sign that the practice of running bug bounty programs has been accelerating over the past several years. Just this past month has seen a spate of important bug bounty developments. Most notable was the announcement last month that Apple would be launching a private bug bounty program with bounties of up to $200,000 up for grabs for those researchers invited into the program. Additionally, last week Microsoft announced an expansion to its current public bug bounty programs to include .NET Core and ASP.NET Core to its ongoing program, with bounty payouts ranging from $500 to $15,000.

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