Security Experts:

WordPress Launches Public Bug Bounty Program

The WordPress security team announced this week the launch of a public bug bounty program that covers the WordPress content management system (CMS) and several related assets.

WordPress has been running a private bug bounty program for roughly seven months and it has now decided to make it public.

The program is hosted on the HackerOne platform and it covers the WordPress CMS and other open-source projects, including BuddyPress, bbPress and GlotPress. Researchers can also report flaws discovered in the WordPress.org (including subdomains), WordCamp.org, BuddyPress.org, WordPress.tv, bbPress.org and Jobs.WordPress.net websites.

White hat hackers have been advised to submit vulnerability reports that include detailed information on the flaw and proof-of-concept (PoC) code. Participants have also been asked to avoid privacy violations and causing damage to live WordPress sites, and give developers a reasonable amount of time to address security holes before their details are made public.

The list of vulnerabilities that experts can report includes cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), server-side request forgery (SSRF), remote code execution and SQL injection.

The bug bounty program does not cover vulnerabilities affecting plugins – these should be reported to the app’s developer, but the WordPress plugins team should be alerted as well.

While exceptions may exist, the WordPress security team says it’s typically not interested in basic information disclosure issues, mixed content warnings, lack of HTTP security headers, brute force attacks, XSS flaws that can only be exploited by users with elevated privileges, and reports generated by automated scans.

The WordPress security team has not provided any information on rewards, but it did say that seven researchers have so far earned more than $3,700, which indicates an average of roughly $500 per vulnerability report. The bounties will be paid out by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, which runs its own bug bounty program on HackerOne.

According to WordPress developers, the CMS currently powers more than a quarter of the top ten million websites on the Internet. Given the platform’s popularity, it’s no surprise that researchers often find security holes, including serious vulnerabilities that end up being exploited to hack thousands of websites.

Hopefully, the launch of a public bug bounty program will streamline vulnerability reporting to avoid the disclosure of unpatched flaws by researchers who are frustrated with the lack of communication.

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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.