A bug bounty program offers rewards for participants who find bugs in software, website, or product of an organization or an individual. These participants are usually referred to as bug bounty hunters.
Bug bounty programs are posted online for ethical hackers to find vulnerabilities in their system and report back to them. This helps companies improve their security posture.
Let’s have a look at some of the interesting aspects that bug hunters have provided based on their experience and surveys:
- Not all bug bounty websites are good enough i.e., either they do not have a good UI/UX design or they are not responsive
- Once a bug is reported to the party concerned, they do not get back to the reporters in time; in the worst-case scenario they never get back to them on the issue
- Bug bounty hunters do not get paid enough for critical bugs they find; sometimes these bugs would have led to terrible consequences
- Sometimes companies just fix the bug and say that the report is invalid
Some of the popular bug bounty platforms are:
- Open Bug Bounty
- NCIIPC (National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre)
Bug hunting — Better as a part-time job or a full-time job!
Ethical hackers or cyber security researchers get into bug bounty programs to improve their skills, keep their skills fresh, and also earn them some money similar to a part-time job. Some people do it just as a hobby or for fun. But from a company’s point of view, they just pay for the genuine problems that are being reported to them. Overall, they get to have several eyes scanning their systems, thereby reducing the probability of getting attacked by unknown sources.
Even though there are many full-time bug bounty hunters, there is no guarantee that they would find a bug. Also, there is no steady income for this kind of job. Before taking up this job as a full-time job, you need to make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the scope of a particular domain in cyber security so that it increases your chances of getting the bounty.
One of the most important points is to follow the rules and regulations of the program. There is always a potential risk of crossing boundaries knowingly or unknowingly. Therefore, it is important to test your skills in a simulated environment to understand the consequences of actions. Otherwise, the party concerned can take legal action which will be a black mark in your profile and could lead the bug bounty platform to ban you from using their platform. Or even worse, you could end up in jail. But overall, the advantages of being a bug bounty hunter far outweigh the disadvantages, if and only if the processes are followed judiciously.
Is bug hunting the easiest way to earn money?
Even though some people think that bug bounty is easy money, the truth is that it is not. It requires the person to be focused and have an evolving mind. You need to think differently to find a new bug. One of the most important traits of a successful bug bounty hunter is persistence. If a person is not able to find a bug, it is fine. The key is to keep trying until you find a bug. There is no shortcut for this, just hard work.
Apart from the challenges mentioned above, bug bounty hunters face an issue of report writing. Even if they are skilled enough to find a bug if they are not able to write the report properly, their findings might get rejected by the company.
We also have to keep in mind that these bug bounty programs cannot replace the cybersecurity team of the company as the program may cover only a particular area of security. All bug bounty programs need not be open to all. Usually, organizations start with a private program and then scale up as time passes.
Organizations also have a responsible disclosure program apart from bug bounty programs. It is open to ethical hackers and cyber security researchers to work on it. The concept is simple: If they find any security flaw, you report it instantly. For these reports, you get rewarded with goodies or other fun stuff. Again, reporters have to abide by the vulnerability disclosure policies.
What else can a Bug Bounty hunter do? — Work as a Penetration Tester
In addition to a bug bounty hunter, you can become a penetration tester. A penetration tester is a cyber security professional who is responsible for finding the vulnerabilities in a system and exploiting the same. After exploiting the vulnerabilities, he/she has to make a proper report and inform the authorities concerned. This is basically what an ethical hacker does. The report should also include the implications of security flaws in terms of business. These professionals have a deep understanding of the given system — be it websites, operating systems, etc. Apart from working in the company they also tend to work as a bug bounty hunter as a part-time job.
The Demand and Supply Gap in the field of Cyber Security
If you have observed, during the pandemic, cyber-attacks have been on the rise across industries and there is a need for more security professionals than ever. But the huge drawback is that the number of qualified candidates is much less than the demand. IT security is one of the most important pillars to run any business. To tackle this problem, many companies are making their employees learn new skills.
The cyber security domain in general is crucial for all kinds of technologies. It should be a core aspect of the technology rather than just an add on. Keeping that in mind, IT companies and IT departments in user industries are scaling up their security professionals and it is the right time for you to start a career in cyber security. Even million-dollar companies that employed 10,000+ people had only about 25 security experts in their company. That is no longer the case as hackers are using advanced techniques to exploit the vulnerabilities of those companies. Sometimes they form a group and attack the companies at the same time targeting different vulnerabilities. This has led the companies to hire security professionals to defend them from malicious hackers.
Andy InfoSec- Bridging the Demand and Supply Gap in Cyber Security
Here is where Andy InfoSec comes into the picture. We provide end-to-end learning services — from beginners to experienced professionals who are either trying to learn a new skill or trying to switch from one job role to another. The problems mentioned above can be solved by joining the program that suits you.
How are we different from others? Why Andy InfoSec?
Our programs are designed in such a way that it meets your career needs in cyber security. You could be a fresher or someone with experience in IT but want to transition to a cyber security job.
To make your lives easier, apply for the bug bounty boot camp.
This is an online workshop and it will get you the hands-on experience that you need. Even beginners can register for this program. It covers topics from the basics to best practices. It also includes online support from the Andy InfoSec team. After this program, you will be equipped with the skills to find a valid bug and write a proper report.
Those who are interested in doing Research and Development in the field of Cyber Security can register in Andy InfoSec Research Community. Here, you get an opportunity to meet like-minded people and collaborate with them. Join via the link given below.
The latest happenings at Andy InfoSec
As you all are aware that our main goal has always been to make your life easier. Whether it is through those value-added pieces of training that we provide or through mentoring the brightest minds to prosper in the infosec field, we left no stone unturned to give the best to you. And yet again we are here with a whole new project which would be beneficial to all those who want to create reports for their analysis.
Professionals, students spend a lot of precious time hunting for the bugs on various bug bounty platforms. But all these efforts might go waste if the analysis is not presented to the target organization in the proper format without getting lost in the details.
So to tackle these pain areas we are launching a product that would come handy not just for bug hunting but also in areas like malware analysis. This product can be thought of as a report generator wherein you can use a drop-down box to select your area of interest. The different items in the drop-down box will include tasks like ‘Malware Analysis’, ‘Bug Bounty’ etc. So finally you can focus more on the main problem that you want to solve without getting stuck in the reporting part.
We hope that this product goes a long way in making your life simpler without letting you deter from your main goal.
If you need any further assistance feel free to contact us at email@example.com
By - Sooraj Sathyanarayanan
Cyber Security Intern