How to Become a Web Application Bug Bounty Hunter

Alex Horlan
Head of Triage, HackenProof
5 Minutes Read

Unleashing the Bug Bounty Hunter Within: Mastering Web Application Security with Free Resources

In today’s interconnected world, the significance of web application security cannot be overstated. With the increasing reliance on digital platforms, protecting sensitive user data and thwarting potential threats has become a top priority for businesses and organizations worldwide. This urgent need for enhanced security has given rise to the ever-expanding field of bug bounty hunting—an exciting domain that offers both challenge and reward to those who embark on this cybersecurity adventure.

Whether you’re a curious tech enthusiast or a seasoned developer looking to sharpen your skills, becoming a web application bug bounty hunter can provide you with an exhilarating path to explore vulnerabilities and contribute to a safer digital landscape. While this field may appear intimidating to beginners, fear not! This article will guide you through the essential steps to kickstart your bug bounty hunting journey using free materials only.

In this comprehensive guide, we will unveil a treasure trove of free resources, curated to equip you with the necessary knowledge and tools to detect and report web application vulnerabilities effectively. From mastering the fundamentals of web application security to leveraging essential testing methodologies and harnessing industry-standard tools, we will delve into each aspect, ensuring you build a strong foundation for success.

So, if you’re ready to embrace the challenges of uncovering hidden flaws, bolstering your cybersecurity expertise, and potentially earning generous bounties, prepare to immerse yourself in this exhilarating world of web application bug bounty hunting. Let’s set forth on this adventure together, armed with nothing but free resources and an insatiable thirst for knowledge.

Become familiar with the Linux terminal

  • Bandit CTF is one of the best places to do that. It is a beginner-friendly Capture The Flag (CTF) challenge designed to teach and test basic command-line skills and Linux system security concepts. It consists of a series of levels with increasing difficulty, where participants need to solve various tasks by finding and exploiting vulnerabilities. Bandit CTF is useful for beginners as it helps them gain hands-on experience in a controlled environment, improve their command-line skills, and develop an understanding of common security vulnerabilities and mitigation techniques. It also encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and exploration of different command-line tools and techniques.

Learn the fundamentals of web application security

Start with the basics of web application security, such as the OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities, HTTP protocol, and network protocols.

OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project): OWASP offers a wealth of free resources, including educational materials, documentation, and tools related to web application security. Their WebGoat and Juice Shop projects provide interactive challenges that simulate real-world vulnerabilities.

  • Also, a good starting point is PicoCTF. PicoCTF is an online platform that hosts an annual Capture The Flag (CTF) competition, primarily aimed at beginner-level participants. It provides a wide range of challenges covering various topics in cybersecurity, including cryptography, web exploitation, reverse engineering, and more. PicoCTF offers an interactive learning experience, allowing participants to develop their skills and knowledge in a gamified environment while solving realistic cybersecurity challenges. We recommend focusing on Web and Network protocols topics for now.

Learn how to use popular security testing tools

Familiarize yourself with popular security testing tools, like Burp Suite. The best place to learn everything about Burp is the Web Security Academy. It offers a wide range of free and interactive labs, tutorials, and challenges that cover various vulnerabilities and techniques commonly encountered in bug bounty programs.

  • Lifehack: If you complete all the tasks in the academy, we’re confident you’ll earn a Junior Web Application Penetration Tester role. The academy is a great reference for this, as most specialists in the industry recognize its quality (Yes, the academy is pretty nice).

Practice on vulnerable web applications

Practice, practice, and more practice. Keep practicing on vulnerable machines to expand your horizons and gain more experience.

HackTheBox – one of the best places to practice your pentesting skills. HackTheBox is an online platform that provides a realistic and immersive environment for individuals to practice and develop their hacking skills through various challenges and simulated scenarios.

TryHackMe – is an online platform that offers virtual labs and guided learning paths to help individuals learn and practice cybersecurity skills in a beginner-friendly and interactive manner.

  • Bonus: A lot of machines are retired, but ippsec explains them in an easy and understandable way on his YouTube channel. Also, he shows different ways to solve the issues.

Read publicly disclosed reports

Bug bounty hunters often share their successful findings and reports on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Medium. Following bug bounty community accounts and hashtags like #bugbounty or #bugbountytips can help you discover interesting reports and learn from the community’s collective knowledge. Also, try to read not only paid reports but unpaid ones too, to avoid repeating the mistakes of others.

  • Lifehack: HackenProof collects and posts all disclosed bug bounty reports from various platforms throughout the day, consolidating them into a single thread using the #bugbountytips hashtag.

Participate in bug bounty programs

Start hunting.

Join various bug bounty programs, such as HackerProof, HackerOne, or Bugcrowd, and start hunting for vulnerabilities. Start with easier programs and work your way up to more challenging ones. Build your own methodology, and you will definitely find some vulnerabilities.

Remember, while these free resources can provide you with a solid foundation, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest web security trends and techniques by regularly exploring new resources and participating in bug bounty programs.

By participating in bug bounty programs, you join a vibrant community of like-minded individuals, collaborating to make the digital world more secure. It’s an exciting and rewarding journey that opens doors to new opportunities, both personally and professionally. So, embrace the challenge, keep learning, and make a positive impact in the realm of cybersecurity.

Happy bug hunting!

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