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What is Bug Bounty? How to Get Started?

IT slang for a reward given for finding and reporting a bug

What is Bug Bounty?

A bug bounty is IT slang for a reward given for finding and reporting a bug in a particular software product. Many IT companies offer these types of incentives to drive product improvement and get more interaction from end users or clients.

How to Get Started?

I’ve collected several resources below that will help you get started to become a security researcher and pick up some new skill. Read on for the walkthrough:

Step 1 | Start Reading

There are some go-to books that you can buy to help you learn the basics and essentials of penetration testing and bug hunting. Since bug bounties often include website targets, we’ll focus on getting you started with Web Hacking and later we’ll branch out.

Your two go-to books are the following:

There are many other e-books and tutorials for further knowledge.

Step 2 | Practice What You’re Learning

While you’re learning it’s important to make sure that you’re also understanding and retaining what you learn. Practicing on vulnerable applications and systems is a great way to test your skills in simulated environments. These will give you an idea of what you’ll run up against in the real world.

Step 3 | Part I | Read tech write-ups and POCs (Proof of Concepts) from other hackers and watch tutorials on YouTube!

Now that you’ve got a baseline understanding of how to find and exploit security vulnerabilities, it’s time to start checking out what other hackers are finding in the wild. Luckily the security community is quite generous with sharing knowledge and we’ve collected a list of write-ups & tutorials:

Step 3 | Part II | Gather your arsenal of tools

Tools don’t make the hacker, but they’re certainly helpful! Bugcrowd has curated an extensive list of tools that you can add to your bag of tricks:

Step 4 | Join the Community

You’re joining a global community of over 29,000 hackers. Luckily many of these hackers are happy to share their knowledge with a fellow polite & curious researcher.

Step 5 | Start Learning About Bug Bounties

Okay, now you’re at the point where it’s almost time to start hunting for bounties. But first, let’s learn how bug bounties work and how to get started, just to make sure we maximize our chances of success.

Step 6 | Get Hacking!

It’s time to start hacking! When you’re new and getting started, it’s probably best not to try hacking the most popular bug bounties out there. Trying to hack Tesla Motors, Facebook, Pinterest and others will likely end in frustration for beginners, as those companies are very popular and are more secure because they receive many bug reports.

Instead, focus on bug bounties that have likely been overlooked by others. These are often bug bounties that don’t pay rewards but instead offer kudos points on Bugcrowd. These ‘kudos points only’ programs are a fantastic way to get started with bug bounties and to show your skills to Bugcrowd. After you’ve submitted some valid bugs to Bugcrowd, even if they’re kudos rewards only, you will likely start receiving invites to private bounty programs. The private bounty programs are invitation only and restricted to a small number of people, which means less competition and a higher likelihood of successfully finding a bug.

Step 7 | Always Be Learning & Networking

Like I mentioned earlier, hacking is a lifelong journey of learning. This is what makes this field so exciting! There are always new articles and presentations to learn from, interesting people to meet at conferences or local meetups, and new opportunities to pursue.

Bug bounties are a fantastic way to enter the InfoSec community and build your career. Use bug bounties as a way to make extra money, improve your skills, meet new people, and even build out your resume.

Remember, always act professional and treat people well. This is a small community and we like to take care of each other – you never know who you might meet!

Conclusion

This is how you can be a successful bug hunter. If you just read the above text and don’t implement it in your life, there’s very few probabilities of you being a successful bug hunter.

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