Continuous Vulnerability Scanning vs. Bug Bounty Programs:

Harold de Vries


Continuous vulnerability ccanning with pen testing vs. Bug bounty programs: a comparative analysis

In today's ever-evolving digital landscape, the battle to safeguard sensitive data and digital assets is an ongoing challenge. As we meet with prospects and discuss how they can enhance their cybersecurity with continuous vulnerability scanning, we regularly hear organisations are using bug bounty programs as a cornerstone of their security strategy.

Although bug bounty programs can deliver good results and form part of your cybersecurity strategy, it also has multiple drawbacks. In this blog post, we'll delve into the nuances of continuous vulnerability scanning and bug bounty programs, comparing their strengths and limitations.

Bug bounty programs

A bug bounty program, also known as a vulnerability rewards program (VRP), offers rewards to individuals for uncovering and reporting software bugs. As part of a vulnerability management strategy, these crowdsourcing initiatives are often used by companies to supplement penetration tests and internal code audits.

Bug bounty programs authorise independent security experts to report bugs to a company in exchange for rewards or compensation. These bugs can include security exploits, vulnerabilities, process issues, hardware flaws, etc.

Bug bounty strengths

  1. Global Talent Pool: Bug bounty programs tap into a global community of security experts, providing varied perspectives and uncovering vulnerabilities that may be missed internally.
  2. Cost-Effective Testing: Instead of a fixed security team, organisations pay only for valid vulnerabilities identified, making bug bounty programs a potentially cost-effective option. Yet, this strength is also an important weakness.

Bug bounty weaknesses

  1. It’s not an holistic test: no one is holistically reviewing your organisation, network, or applications and neither will anyone follow a specific methodology.
  2. Nobody has ownership over the project: There are hundreds of testers, but they only get paid if they find a vulnerability. Additionally, they get paid more or less depending on the vulnerability they find. So most will only search for their own profitability, not for every risk and vulnerability across your IT architecture.
  3. Trust: With a bug bounty program, they can do some basic level checks, but they don’t know their “employees.” Given that selling vulnerabilities on the Dark web often pays much more than reporting them to the organisation, trust is an essential element of bug bounty programs. How well have the bounty hunters been vetted? Are they to be trusted while hacking your IT infrastructure?
  4. It can become costly: Because organisations pay for uncovered vulnerabilities, it means that the costs are variable. In case there are many vulnerabilities found, especially the more valuable ones, it can become quickly a costly exercise.

HIO Engine: Combining continuous vulnerability scanning with pen testing

Our HIO (hackurity Intelligent Solutions) Engine starts as a vulnerability scanner on an automated renumeration loop. It continuously scans your IT infrastructure searching for vulnerabilities. When it finds a vulnerability, it will actively exploit it, as an automated and targeted pen test. This methodology allows us to simulate real-world attack scenarios to ascertain the extent of the risk to your business. Here's why this fusion is potent:

HIO Engine strengths

  1. Realtime security posture: Because our HIO Engine scans and pen tests your IT infra every day, you gain a realtime insight in your current security posture. The scan results are available immediately after each scan and therefore are up to date.
  2. Always relevant and up to date: Our HIO Engine syncs itself every day with 15 databases around the world which contain every known CVE and vulnerability. Once a new vulnerability is added to one of these databases, our HIO Engine is able to pen test for that vulnerability within 24 hours and able to exploit it. Therefore, an automated pen test is never reliant on expertise or lack thereof.
  3. Aggregating multiple scanners: We combine the strengths of multiple scanners to create with our HIO Engine a vulnerability scanner that is the world’s most powerful and complete.
  4. No time wasting with false positives: HIO Engine only reports vulnerabilities which it has successfully exploited and thus has proven the vulnerability is real. Therefore your IT Security team knows its a real issue and they won’t be chasing false positives and wasting time.
  5. Simplicity: By creating an all-in-one solution we offer you simplicity in your cybersecurity tech stack. No longer do you require separate pen tests, vulnerability scanners and other attack simulation tools. You can cut down the number of vendors and tech, creating a streamlined work and reporting flow for your IT Security team.

HIO Engine weaknesses

  1. It cannot uncover new zero days: Unlike bug bounty hunters and pen testers, our HIO Engine, and all vulnerability scanners, cannot uncover new zero day vulnerabilities. It can only scan for existing and known vulnerabilities.


Although bug bounty programs can be a great part of your overall cybersecurity strategy, they should not be your only solution. Bug bounty programs have too many drawbacks to fully rely on it for your security. The lack of control of the overall program is the main drawback. You put your trust and control in the hands of a wide range of, perhaps so-called, experts who will scan and attack your IT infrastructure. Responsibly disclosing the vulnerabilities they found to you is in most cases less profitable than selling these on the Dark web. Therefore, you must have plenty of other safeguards in place to counter that risk.

These are risks that can be mitigated through continuous vulnerability scanning and pen testing, using expert and reliable vendors or partners. The HIO Engine is a full attack simulation tool, which runs daily and provides clear, realtime insights in your security position. Your IT infrastructure evolves every day, hence continuous testing is the new standard. We’ve wrote about this in a previous blog.

Cybersecurity involves the protection of some of your business’ most valuable (digital) assets and information. Data on your customers, employees and your intellectual property are invaluable. Choosing the right security tools and partners is therefore essential, you must be able to fully trust them and their solutions.

About hackurity.io

Hackurity.io is redefining cybersecurity through our innovative, automated and powerful cyber security and attack simulation tools. Taking a unique outside in approach, our solutions are designed to replicate real hacker attacks to find and fix vulnerabilities before hackers do. Focused on prevention, we significantly reduce the chance of a successful cyber attack on any business.

Founded in 2021, hackurity.io has the dream and mission to make being connected to the internet safer for all businesses and ultimately for our next generations. Headquartered in The Netherlands, hackurity.io offers its world class cybersecurity solutions to businesses around the world.


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