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Navigating the Triaged State: A Guide for Bug Bounty Researchers

In the cybersecurity world, bug bounty programs are indispensable for many organisations. These programs enlist researchers to discover and report vulnerabilities, helping to identify and resolve potential security issues before they can be exploited. A critical phase in this process is the "triaged state" for reports, a stage that each submitted report must go through. Understanding what happens when your submitted report is in the triaged state can significantly aid researchers in navigating the bug bounty process effectively.

1. What is the Triaged State for Reports?

The triaged state for reports refers to the stage in the bug bounty lifecycle where a submitted report undergoes an initial review by triages. These are the individuals or teams responsible for evaluating the validity, impact, and relevance of reported vulnerabilities. This stage ensures that only the most pertinent and accurate reports proceed to the next steps in the process.

2. Initial Submission of a Report

When a researcher identifies a potential vulnerability, they submit a detailed report through the bug bounty platform. This report typically includes information such as the type of vulnerability, steps to reproduce the issue, potential impact, and any supporting evidence like screenshots or logs. Adhering to the platform's guidelines and specific program rules is crucial to ensure the report is clear and complete.

3. The Role of Triage

Triage are skilled cybersecurity professionals with deep knowledge of various types of vulnerabilities and the systems they affect. Their main responsibilities include assessing the accuracy of the report, determining the severity of the vulnerability, and ensuring that the report follows the program's guidelines. Triage act as the first line of evaluation, filtering out false positives, duplicates, and low-impact issues.

4. Evaluation Process

During the triaged state for reports, triages meticulously review the submitted report. They verify the existence of the vulnerability by reproducing the steps provided, assess its potential impact on the target system, and check for any previous reports of the same issue. Prioritisation is also a key aspect, as triages determine the urgency of addressing the vulnerability based on its severity and the potential risk it poses.

5. Communication with Researchers

Researchers are typically notified when their report enters the triaged state. Clear and detailed communication is crucial during this phase. Triages may request additional information or clarification from the researcher to better understand the reported issue. This back-and-forth helps ensure that the report is as comprehensive and accurate as possible.

6. Benefits of the Triaged State for Reports

The triaged state for reports serves multiple purposes in the bug bounty process. It ensures the quality and relevance of submitted reports, filters out false positives and duplicates, and streamlines the overall process for both researchers and companies. By thoroughly evaluating each report at this stage, triages help maintain the integrity and efficiency of the bug bounty program.

7. Possible Outcomes After Triaging

Once a report has been thoroughly evaluated in the triaged state, several outcomes are possible:

  • Sent to Development: If the report is valid and the vulnerability is significant, it is forwarded to the development team for remediation.

  • Ready for Revalidation: If additional verification is needed, the report is queued for revalidation.

  • Vulnerability Closed: The report is closed if the issue is resolved or deemed not exploitable.

8. Timeframe and Expectations

The duration a report remains in the triaged state can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the vulnerability, the volume of reports being processed, and the responsiveness of the researcher. While it’s natural for researchers to be eager for a resolution, it’s important to set realistic expectations and understand that thorough evaluation takes time.

9. Best Practices for Researchers

To increase the chances of a report progressing smoothly through the triaged state, researchers should focus on writing high-quality, detailed reports. Providing clear reproduction steps, including all relevant evidence, and adhering to the platform's guidelines are crucial. Avoiding common pitfalls, such as submitting vague or incomplete reports, can significantly improve the likelihood of a positive outcome.

10. The Role of Automation in Triaging

Automation tools are increasingly being used to assist triages in evaluating reports. These tools can help with initial screening, checking for duplicates, and even assessing the potential impact of reported vulnerabilities. While automation enhances efficiency, it also has limitations and cannot fully replace the expertise of human triages. 11. Challenges Faced During Triaging

Triaging bug reports can be challenging. Triages may encounter reports that are difficult to reproduce, unclear descriptions, or conflicting information. Addressing these challenges requires a combination of technical expertise, clear communication, and sometimes, collaboration with the researchers.

12. Conclusion

The triaged state for reports is a critical phase in the bug bounty process, ensuring that submitted reports are thoroughly evaluated for accuracy and impact. By understanding what happens during this stage, researchers can better navigate the bug bounty platform and contribute more effectively to cybersecurity efforts. Continued collaboration and communication between researchers and triages are key to the success of these programs.



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