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£265m Data Breach Costs Could Have Been Avoided with £9600 Worth of Bug Bounties

New research from bug bounty and pen testing platform HackerOne has revealed that four major data breaches – British Airways (2018), Carphone Warehouse (2018), TicketMaster (2018) and TalkTalk (2015) – which cost over £265m in damages cumulatively, could have been prevented for as little as £9600 (collectively) with the use of bug bounty programs.

That estimate is based on typical bug bounty rewards paid to researchers that have discovered the same vulnerabilities that led to the above breaches. According to HackerOne, the research studied the costs, lawsuits and fines associated with the data breaches.

The firm claimed that the mammoth combined costs of the breaches could have been avoided had the vulnerabilities – which included third-party JavaScript exploits, an out-of-date WordPress interface and SQL injection – been identified and responsibly disclosed by researchers as part of a bug bounty program. HackerOne stated the victim organizations would have collectively only had to pay out between £9600-£32,000, based on average bug bounty prices.

“Attack surfaces are growing all the time, and it’s a significant challenge just trying to stay ahead of cyber-criminals. The most secure organizations realize there are many ways to identify where they are most vulnerable,” said Prash Somaiya, security engineer at HackerOne.

“By running bug bounty programs and asking hackers to find their weak spots, our customers have safely resolved over 120,000 vulnerabilities before a breach could occur. This research is a rough estimate on bounty prices, based on our existing programs across the same industries, but it does highlight that companies can save millions and reduce risk by being proactive when it comes to identifying and patching their vulnerabilities.”

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