Security Experts:

General Services Administration Launches Bug Bounty Program

The General Services Administration (GSA), an agency that provides real estate, acquisition and technology services to the U.S. government, announced last week the launch of a new bug bounty program.

The bug bounty program, powered by the HackerOne platform, covers vulnerabilities and bugs in software operated by the GSA’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS). The new initiative was announced on the website of 18F, a TTS office that provides digital development and consulting services for government agencies.

The HackerOne-based program was announced a few months after 18F published the TTS’s vulnerability disclosure policy, which provides information on how security experts can report flaws found in the organization’s systems.

The list of targeted services includes cloud.gov and several specified subdomains, login.gov and specified subdomains, vote.gov, analytics.usa.gov, calc.gsa.gov, micropurchase.18f.gov, and 18f.gsa.gov.

The program invites anyone – from high school students to employees of major security firms – to submit their findings. Participants can earn between $300 and $5,000 for the flaws they disclose.

HackerOne’s role is to triage submissions and forward valid bug reports to TTS, which will address the vulnerabilities.

“With bug bounties becoming an established industry-wide best practice, it’s important for us to establish our own. With the results we receive from the TTS Bug Bounty, we look forward to establishing a permanent program that involves most — if not all — TTS-owned websites and web applications,” 18F representatives said in a blog post.

It’s not always easy for researchers to disclose vulnerabilities they have found in government systems, and some have even been arrested for trying to expose flaws. However, the GSA has promised not to initiate legal action against experts who comply with its policy.

This will be the first public bug bounty program run by a civilian agency, and it was inspired by the success of Department of Defense initiatives such as Hack the Pentagon and Hack the Army.

The latest bug bounty program announced by the DoD is named Hack the Air Force, which is open for experts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Related: Pentagon to Launch More Bug Bounty Programs

Related: HackerOne Offers Free Service to Open Source Projects

Related: HackerOne Penetrates VC Pockets for $40 Million

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.