Security startup Bugcrowd on crowdsourcing bug bounties: ‘Cybersecurity is a people problem’

For a cybersecurity company, Bugcrowd relies much more on people than it does on technology.

For as long as humans are writing software, developers and programmers are going to make mistakes, said Casey Ellis, the company’s founder and chief technology officer in an interview TechCrunch from his San Francisco headquarters.

“Cybersecurity is fundamentally a people problem,” he said. “Humans are actually the root of the problem,” he said. And when humans made coding mistakes that turn into bugs or vulnerabilities that be exploited, that’s where Bugcrowd comes in — by trying to mitigate the fallout before they can be maliciously exploited.

Founded in 2011, Bugcrowd is one of the largest bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure companies on the internet today. The company relies on bug finders, hackers, and security researchers to find and privately report security flaws that could damage systems or putting user data at risk.

Bugcrowd acts as an intermediary by passing the bug to the companies to get fixed — potentially helping them to dodge a future security headache like a leak or a breach — in return for payout to the finder.

The greater the vulnerability, the higher the payout.

“The space we’re in is brokering conversations between different groups of people that don’t necessarily have a good history of getting along but desperately need to talk to each other,” said Ellis.

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