In the world of Cybersecurity today, some of the terms that are often being bandied about are those of Cyber Risk and Cyber Resiliency.  Long story short, they merely state how well a company can withstand a security breach and bounce back from it is as quickly possible. 

There are many models, methodologies, frameworks, etc. that are out there in which you can actually determine all of this, but it all comes down to just one thing:  Why even entertain the thought of even being impacted in the first place?

In other words, shouldn’t the mindset be of a proactive one, and trying to mitigate this risk as far possible?  Well, one of the best ways to do this is to conduct a Penetration Test or even a Threat Hunting exercise to truly gauge where both your known and unknown vulnerabilities lie at. 

From here, depending upon the caliber of the team that you have hired to do this, you should be given a report as to what has been discovered and how to quickly remediate them.

But those companies with far deeper coffers are resorting to yet another means of finding out where there security issues could lie at.  It is not just so much of finding those weak spots in your IT and Network Infrastructures, but also finding out just how secure your source code is, especially when it comes to the development of your Web applications, either for your client or for yourself.

This is known as the “Bug Bounty” programs, which even have been in existence since 1995.  Simply put, this is where a company offers a large sum of money for hackers if they can discover and disclose any vulnerabilities that have not picked up yet.  You may have heard about them in the news, and some of the most well-known companies that have offered this kind of reward includes the tech titans of Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Apple, Google, etc.

But it is not just these companies that are reaching out to the hackers directly, there are other platforms that literally match the hacker with person that needs to be hacked (for lack of a better term).  Some of these include the following:

*HackerOne;

*BugCrowd;

*Bugbountyjp;

*Hackenproof;

*Intigriti;

*Open Bug County;

*Yogosha.

The payouts can be great, going as high into the seven figures.  But typically, the payouts are much smaller than ranging from $30,000 – $40,000.  But still, this no small amount to scoff at, one can actually make a pretty good living at it.  Now that we have described all of this, the next item you may be asking now is, “How can I get involved with a Bug Bounty Program”?  Here are some tips that have been provided by the most experienced pros, which are of course the hackers, whether they are ethical or unethical in nature:

*Its not all about the money:

If you want to be a Bug Bounty Hunter, the first thing that most people will tell you is forget about the money, at least initially.  Why is this?  Well first of all, you have to have the IT Security background in order to detect a threat and mitigate it.  In fact, companies even want to even see your level of experience that you possess before they will let you even into their program.  If you don’t have this kind of background, well, it can then be quite difficult to even know what to look for.  So what should you do?  Find an area in IT that interests you the most, and from there research all of the Cybersecurity issues that go along with it.  Then from there, get the tools that you need to help you to become a Bug Bounty Hunter.  For example, if you want to find holes in Web applications, then learn all you an about Penetration Testing, and from there download a free tool, such as Wireshark or Metasploit that can help you find these weaknesses.  The bottom line here is that being involved in a Bug Bounty Hunter program encompasses all forms of Cybersecurity, so it is better to be a master at one than a jack of all trades.  In other words, find an area that you are passionate about, and make it to your fullest advantage.  Be realistic about what you want to accomplish in your first year or so as a Bug Bounty Hunter.  In this regard, it is very important to creative, and not just be simply allured by the high payouts.  That will get you nowhere.

*Find a company that you are think you are compatible with:

As mentioned, there are a plethora of companies these days that offer great Bug Bounty Hunter programs (and payouts).  Rather than just picking one out haphazardly that you would like to work with, first find that area of interest of yours (as just previously examined), then find that company whose needs align with it.  For example, if you are interested in discovering about weaknesses in Operating Systems, then perhaps you should join Microsoft’s program.  Or if databases suit your fancy, then perhaps team up with Oracle.  Also keep in mind that Bug Bounty programs are not just all about software.  It also includes hardware as well, so if you are interested in that area, then perhaps you could join Cisco’s program, which is all about finding weaknesses in their networking devices.

*Don’t get overwhelmed:

It’s a known fact that the Cybersecurity Threat Landscape is continually evolving on a daily basis, with new threat variants coming out all the time.  As a result of this, it can be completely overwhelming for a prospective Bug Bounty Hunter to learn about and keep up with.  But you know what, you don’t need to learn everything.  Just stay focused on what you are passionate about and immerse yourself with all of the known threats that are associated with it.  This kind of approach will pay off dearly in the end.

My Thoughts On This

In the end, becoming a successful Bug Bounty Hunter takes a ton of hard work and of course, time.  Just don’t expect to become rich overnight.  One has to be creative, and very often, needs to think outside of the box.  It also takes a lot of persistence.  For example, if you have found a bug and report it into the company, there are good chances that it was probably discovered before you. 

So, it is important that you do not get discouraged in this aspect.  Equally important is to find a platform or a company that will be responsive to your queries and your findings.  In other words, you want to be engaged with an entity that will value your time.  It is also important to keep detailed records of the process that you are engaging in order to find the bugs, in order to show to the company that you are working with you are taking methodological approach. 

The reason for this is that if you produce these kinds of documents, there are good chances that the company could as you to come back again because of the approaches you have taken.  Also keep in mind that most Bug Bounty programs do not involve just simply testing for vulnerabilities found in newly created Web applications.  You can also be asked to test for any weaknesses in legacy systems as well, or even older types of software applications.