Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

12/12/2018
04:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Bug Hunting Paves Path to Infosec Careers

Ethical hackers use bug bounty programs to build the skills they need to become security professionals.

Current and future cybersecurity professionals are using bug bounty programs to gain skills they can use to become security analysts, CISOs, or, in some cases, full-time vulnerability hunters.

As part of its 2018 "Inside the Mind of a Hacker" report, researchers at Bugcrowd polled 65,000 hackers from around the world to better understand who they are, what motivates them, and the sustainability of a hacker career. Most (81%) respondents credit bug hunting with helping them land a job in the security field, and many continue to use it to supplement full-time roles.

Five to 10 years ago, there weren't enough bug bounty programs to turn the practice into a full-time position, says Jason Haddix, vice president of researcher growth at Bugcrowd. Now there is more opportunity: The top 50 hackers' average yearly payout is $145,000, with over 600 valid submissions. The average payout per bug across the platform is $783.

Still, more people prefer to bug hunt on the side while working other jobs or attending university. Students spend 10 to 20 hours per week on ethical hacking, Haddix explains, and 66% of all Bugcrowd respondents spend up to 10 hours per week bug hunting. The practice is giving them valuable skills they can use to help fill the growing security talent gap.

"One of the things that was cool about this report was the amount the hunters are using this experience – finding vulnerabilities and bug bounties – to find jobs in security," Haddix says. It's an interesting educational path in a field where traditional college programs struggle to keep up.

Nearly 41% of bug hunters teach themselves and 43% use blogs and online resources to learn the skills they need. It's a highly motivated group: Nearly 32% want to be full-time bug hunters, 15% aspire to be security engineers at major tech companies, and 6% are training to be CISOs.

The Best Education Is Experience
You don't need a lot of experience to get into ethical hacking, Haddix points out. While 41.5% of hackers polled have three or more years of professional security experience, close to 30% only have one to two years, and 14.3% have no security experience at all. Bugcrowd's hackers are relatively young, with nearly all (94%) between the ages of 18 to 44 and 71.5% between the ages of 18 and 29.

Higher education is still popular; 80% of respondents have attended college. But the percentage of those with a master's degree (18%) matches the percentage of those who have a high school education or less. "Formal education is becoming the road less traveled," Bugcrowd reports. Bug hunters have both the skills and experience companies look for in security job candidates.

"It's powerful to say, 'Instead of taking a certification or class, I found a critical vulnerability on a Fortune 500 company,'" Haddix explains. What's more, they can offer proof of their expertise with a bug disclosure or status on a leaderboard. It goes "leaps farther" than a certification, he says.

The most prominent skill bug hunters learn is Web application hacking, which Haddix says makes up the biggest portion of today's bug bounties. For those getting started, learning Web application testing is a good gateway into ethical hacking – and where the most opportunity is. Most university courses don't dig into Web hacking, he adds, and online resources provide wannabe hackers with fake vulnerable applications they can dig into for practice.

"Practical experience is the one thing you seem to lack in today's security researchers," Haddix adds. "We need people with experience. New people are having a hard time getting into security."

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
US Formally Attributes SolarWinds Attack to Russian Intelligence Agency
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  4/15/2021
News
Dependency Problems Increase for Open Source Components
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  4/14/2021
News
FBI Operation Remotely Removes Web Shells From Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/14/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7856
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
A vulnerability of Helpcom could allow an unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary command. This vulnerability exists due to insufficient authentication validation.
CVE-2021-28793
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
vscode-restructuredtext before 146.0.0 contains an incorrect access control vulnerability, where a crafted project folder could execute arbitrary binaries via crafted workspace configuration.
CVE-2021-25679
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
** UNSUPPORTED WHEN ASSIGNED ** The AdTran Personal Phone Manager software is vulnerable to an authenticated stored cross-site scripting (XSS) issues. These issues impact at minimum versions 10.8.1 and below but potentially impact later versions as well since they have not previously been disclosed....
CVE-2021-25680
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
** UNSUPPORTED WHEN ASSIGNED ** The AdTran Personal Phone Manager software is vulnerable to multiple reflected cross-site scripting (XSS) issues. These issues impact at minimum versions 10.8.1 and below but potentially impact later versions as well since they have not previously been disclosed. Only...
CVE-2021-25681
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
** UNSUPPORTED WHEN ASSIGNED ** AdTran Personal Phone Manager 10.8.1 software is vulnerable to an issue that allows for exfiltration of data over DNS. This could allow for exposed AdTran Personal Phone Manager web servers to be used as DNS redirectors to tunnel arbitrary data over DNS. NOTE: The aff...