Wasim Shaikh
Jun 20 · 4 min read

A Fight For Duplicate Marked Bug: Story of BBC Hall Of Fame

I am writing this post not because I want to tell the Infosec community about my achievement of finding XSS on the BBC’s home page. It’s been days I am reading tweets and posts related to how the programs with “Responsible Disclosure” are cheating bug bounty hunters by marking their valid bug duplicate. Even the programs on Bugcrowd are trying to do the same nowadays. Following are some bug bounty hunters who have faced the stigma of duplicate bugs for a very good vulnerability.


Many of the bug bounty hunters don’t give up and keep hunting the bugs on same programs. But, in my opinion; if the program is marking any bug as a duplicate, it should provide the substantial shreds of evidence that the same vulnerability with same attack scenario was reported by other bug bounty hunter before him/her. I have seen HackerOne following the policy of mentioning the report number of a report submitted by another bug bounty hunter. But, if the program is marking any bug duplicate without providing the evidence, stop hunting on the same program. Share how that program is cheating on you with your fellow security researchers and bug bounty hunters via Twitter and LinkedIn.

So, coming back to my story, I was hunting on BBC as I wanted my name in their Hall Of Fame list. I saw many bug bounty hunters have reported an XSS to BBC and they have patched XSS very well. I thought, let’s start by using Burp Suite’s intruder to fire the XSS payloads. I fired a few hundreds of XSS payloads that are mostly used to bypass WAF and to bypass implemented prevention measures for an XSS. I was out of luck. The best approach to find an XSS vulnerability is noticing how the application is responding back to your input. I noticed, the payload, “<script>alert(“Hacked By DrSpitfire”)</script> was getting embedded in the value=”payload here”. After lots of tries, I got the idea to try to end the value=”payload here” tag. Thus, I started using payloads such as “”<script>alert(“Hacked By DrSpitfire”)</script> and it did not work. After few tries the payload “<script>alert(“Hacked By DrSpitfire”)</script>“<script>alert(“Hacked By DrSpitfire”)</script> worked and I got the most awaited pop-up.

Magical Pop-Up!

I was happy that I will be there on BBC’s HOF listing. Without taking any break, I reported it to the BBC ( security@bbc.co.uk). However, I got the following response from their Information Security team,

Reported Few Days Back?

I sent another email to the BBC and ask them to follow the transparency. I asked them to share the proofs that same finding was reported by another bug bounty hunter before me. After many days, I got a very polite reply stating that the issue was fixed and the bug was marked duplicate by mistake.

Reported Very Shortly after me?

The point here is, I asked the program to follow the transparency and BBC Information security team was fair enough to take a stand. They had the courage to accept their mistake and to correct it as well. However, many programs are not doing that. I have seen bug bounty hunters submitting P1 issues and very critical security vulnerabilities to the program and getting a response as a duplicate bug. These programs even do not participate in further communication with the security researcher. Thus, in my opinion, there is no point in wasting precious time on programs like this. There is a need to expose these programs on LinkedIn and Twitter so that they will start following the rules before marking any submission duplicate. Let’s work together to fight with programs with abhorrent “Responsible Disclosure”.

Finally, after a day, my name was up there on BBC’s Hall Of Fame List.

Wasim Shaikh Will be here as long as the BBC is there!


Thank you!

You can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wa_sim_sim

Wasim Shaikh

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Security Consultant; Ethical Hacker; Penetration Tester; Bug Bounty Hunter; A son; A brother; A friend! Twitter: @Wa_sim_sim