The cybersecurity world has long brought an entirely new game player into the central rows of protection layers known as bug bounty programs. Within a short time, these programs have managed to gain high exposure and popularity among crypto companies and white-hat programmers. And why is this so? Reasons are more than enough.
First of all, bug bounty programs are an excellent way for companies to add another security layer to their digital assets and eliminate the risk of data breaches. It’s because they always have an upgraded list of possible vulnerabilities at hand. And on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for developers and security researchers to test their skills on various targets and get high compensation and bounties for bugs found.
If you also want to get started with bug bounty programs and apply your hacking knowledge to something beneficial, this article is perfect for you. Here we will cover all the topics concerning the tools, resources, and skills one needs to enter the bug bounty industry. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
What is a Bug Bounty Program?
We can define a bug bounty program as an agreement offered by different websites and cybersecurity professionals. Individuals and white-hat hackers can get bounties and rewards after successfully reporting bugs and security vulnerabilities of the project’s system. As a result, the developers can identify and resolve bugs and issues before launching a program or delivering it to the public.
These programs help to prevent and respond to possible data leakage, security breaches, or other safety issues that, in most cases, could lead to unwanted damages and unpleasant consequences.
Generally, a company that begins a bug bounty program has a set of requirements, details, and rules attached to the primary announcement. It will give bug bounty hunters a clear idea of what to look at, how to report the identified vulnerabilities, and what to expect. As a rule, after a successfully exploited vulnerability, you can be rewarded either with reputation points, money, or bounties.
Types of Bug Bounty Programs
Depending on the company, project, and other specific features, different types of bug bounty programs are available in the cybersecurity platform. The variety of programs is a big plus for bounty hunters, as they have a broad spectrum of options to choose from according to their preferences and skills.
So, let’s move on and review these types in detail.
Public Bug Bounty Program
Public bounties refer to those programs that are open to the world, like Google or Facebook, and almost always reward bounties. You can find a wide range of public bounty programs with different scopes and requirements.
The main advantage of these programs is that they release new features and code every day, so anyone with technical skills can be a part of them.
Private Bug Bounty Program
Generally, most private invites are paying programs, and you will get compensation after successfully reporting the valid bugs. However, some of them may not be paid, so you need to be attentive while receiving an invite. You can also customize your preferences on bug bounty platforms so that invites can automatically be filtered between paying and non-paying.
Private bug programs usually invite those researchers who have shown some activity on the platform, like a certain amount of valid vulnerabilities pertaining to exploits, report/signal/impact value, etc.
Furthermore, special programs are referred to as VIPs, as they are set up so that the organization only works with a selected group of researchers.
Vulnerability Disclosure Program
The Vulnerability Disclosure Program can be either public or private. However, most of them are public and reward a bug bounty hunter only with reputation points and nothing more. Therefore, this program is suitable for those who have just started their journey in the bug bounty world. It helps them to gain experience and build a reputation for further activity.
Bug Bounty Platforms, Websites, and Resources
The main road leading to successful bug bounty hunting is indeed hard work and carefully chosen tools, books, and courses, especially when you are new in this field. That’s why we gathered some of the best resources you can consider when taking your first steps.
#1 Bug Bounty Courses
- Web Security Academy: With the help of this bug bounty course, a bug bounty hunter can start learning how to hack and crush their first bug. This training of Web Security Academy is provided by Burp Suite creators and is free of charge. You can boost your career through the offered interactive labs and also get a chance to learn from cybersecurity professionals. Some of the topics the training covers are as follows;
- XXE Injection
- SQL Injection
- Web Cache Poisoning
- Header Attacks of HTTP Host
- Hacker 101: It’s one of the best courses suitable for beginners who want to learn the basics of vulnerability hacking. Hacker 101 training consists of capture-the-flag challenges and video lessons on web security.
- SANS Cybersecurity Skills Roadmap: It’s an interactive resource that provides users with more than 60 courses of different goals and skill levels to test their knowledge. Here you can start with the basics and move up to the vital skills for specialized roles. One of the examples is the course SEC504 Hacker Techniques: you will receive the required basics for understanding hackers’ strategies, changing from a defensive attack to an offensive, and testing, and exploiting the vulnerabilities.
#2 Bug Bounty Books
- Ghost in The Wires: Kevin Mitnick’s book is one of the most popular among cybersecurity professionals and bounty hunters. It’s a great resource helping to understand the perspectives and tactics of a black-hat hacker.
- Web Hacking 101: This Ebook was created by Peter Yaworsky – a software security expert. His primary intention was to help the hacker community benefit from their bug hunting abilities through the basic knowledge of how to monetize your cybersecurity skillset.
- The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: It’s the best resource with core attention to web application hacking. The Web Application Handbook is a step-by-step guide equipping users with the necessary strategies to attack and defend web platforms.
#3 Platforms and Websites
- Google Gruyere – a website full of errors and vulnerabilities designed for people who want to learn to hack.
- Hack the Box – is a penetration testing lab specially made to support pentesters or other bug bounty hackers to advance their knowledge through more than 127 challenges.
- HackThis – a website where you can find over 50 difficulty levels to try your abilities.
After you arm yourself with the essential resources and tools on bug bounty hunting, it’s time to use all these skills in an actual process and crush bug bounties. There is no better way to develop your abilities than testing and practicing on real projects and web applications.
The platform of Bugcrowd is mainly in charge of the payment and compensation process. After identifying and reporting the vulnerabilities, researchers will get their bug bounties from the “Rewards pool” established by the program.
Big bounties primarily have a complementary role in the entire security system. Therefore, they add another layer of protection and help detect the errors that traditional penetration testing and assessment couldn’t identify.
Most organizations use the Bugcrowd platform and its resources for running a successful bug bounty program. In addition, the platform enables your access to the management interface, researcher community, and managed services.