An employee of bug bounty platform HackerOne has been stealing user-submitted reports and disclosing the information to the affected vendors, sometimes in exchange for financial reward.
In a blog post, the company revealed the details of the incident, which took place over the course of roughly three months, and confirmed that the employee has since been fired.
HackerOne is still considering whether or not to pursue a criminal lawsuit, BleepingComputer reported.
Identical reports raising eyebrows
In early April, HackerOne brought in a new employee who, due to their position, had access to bug reports. These reports highlight vulnerabilities in various software and services that could be exploited by cybercriminals to steal passwords and other sensitive information, distribute malware and more.
From early on, the individual began gathering reports, and under a fake name reaching out to the affected businesses, often in a threatening and intimidating tone, HackerOne said.
The employee would then demand payment in exchange for the vulnerability disclosure, and in some instances even got their way.
HackerOne was alerted to the potential fraud when one of its affected clients reached out to say that another person “discovered” an identical flaw. While duplicate discoveries in bug hunting aren't uncommon, this particular instance was identical to such an extent that it arose suspicion, the company said.
Together with payment providers, HackerOne was able to follow the money, and soon discovered one of its own employees was behind the scheme.
Soon after, it banned the employee from accessing the system, and remotely locked their laptop, pending investigation. The investigation showed all of the bug reports the person had accessed, prompting the company to reach out to both the hackers discovering the bugs and the companies affected.
The company also said that not all of the bug reports that the person accessed were abused. In some cases, the access was for legitimate purposes.
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.