28 Jan Bug Bounty Events for Hackers (Updated for 2023)
Bug bounty events are the perfect opportunity for security enthusiasts and professionals to put their ethical hacking skills to the test and earn rewards.
Here, we will go over the benefits and issues of bug bounty events, the different types of bug bounty events, what to expect from these events, and how to organize an event. We will also provide a list of events (hackathons, conferences, seminars, etc.) happening in 2023.
Are you ready to join the hunt?
- Bug bounty events are competitions where participants find and report vulnerabilities in a specific system or application.
- There are several types of bug bounty events, including online, in-person, private, public, conferences, and webinars.
- Bug bounty events have several benefits, including increased participation, a competitive environment, networking opportunities, and educational opportunities.
- There are also some negatives to consider, such as limited scope, limited time, limited liability, and limited rewards.
- Bug bounty events typically involve registration, receiving event rules and guidelines, understanding the event challenge, and scoring and receiving rewards.
- Organizations can organize bug bounty events by defining the scope, setting rules and guidelines, choosing a platform, and having a clear communication plan. They also need to evaluate the vulnerabilities reported and reward the participants, gathering feedback to improve the next event.
What Are Bug Bounty Events?
Bug bounty events are competitions where the host rewards participants for finding and reporting vulnerabilities in a specific system or application. These events differ from traditional bug bounty programs because they have a time limit with rules and guidelines.
There are several types of bug bounty events available, including online, in-person, private, and public events. Online events allow participants to submit vulnerabilities remotely. In-person events at physical locations allow for activities such as capture-the-flag competitions and workshops. Specific organizations may organize private events for their systems and applications.
During an in-person hackathon in August 2022 organized by Yahoo, 40 hunters found 218 bugs which rewarded the hackers with a total of $218,121. In April 2022, the online platform YesWeHack organized a 30-hour event called “Hack Me I’m Famous,” which earned the 40 hunters €10,000 (US $10,890). Whether online or in-person, these events are beneficial to both the hunters and the organizations.
Benefits of Bug Bounty Events
Bug bounty events have several benefits, including:
- Increased participation: Bug bounty events often attract many participants, which can lead to finding a broader range of vulnerabilities.
- Competitive environment: Bug bounty events create a competitive environment that can motivate participants to find and report vulnerabilities more quickly.
- Networking opportunities: Bug bounty events allow participants to connect and collaborate with other security professionals.
- Educational opportunities: Bug bounty events can be a valuable learning experience to develop new skills and learn about the latest security challenges.
- Increased visibility: Participating and winning bug bounty events can bring recognition or establish the hunter’s reputation.
Drawbacks of Bug Bounty Events
Despite the many benefits of bug bounty events, there are also some downsides to consider, including:
- Limited scope: Bug bounty events often have a specific range, meaning vulnerabilities outside that scope may not interest the hunter.
- Limited time: Events may be short and intense, limiting hunters’ time to find and report vulnerabilities.
- Limited liability: For those hosting, participants may not be held liable for any damage caused by their testing methods.
- Limited rewards: The financial rewards may be limited and may not even exist.
How Do Bug Bounty Events Work?
Bug bounty events work in many ways, but here is a typical model:
- To participate in a bug bounty event, individuals usually register and sign up for the event. The registration process typically involves giving contact information and agreeing to the event’s terms and conditions.
- Once registered, the host will provide participants with the event’s rules and guidelines. The rules and guidelines outline the legal or ethical considerations for the hosts’ testing methods. These rules and guidelines will also include the testing methodology, the format of vulnerability reports, and the reward system. Participants should always obtain the necessary permissions before conducting any testing.
- Participants should understand the event challenge. Some events may have a particular set of challenges or tasks that participants must complete. In contrast, others may be more open-ended, allowing participants to focus on specific areas or systems.
- In scoring and receiving, the system can vary. Judges award points based on the number and severity of vulnerabilities or the discovery speed. Then, judges award prizes to the top performers at the end of the event. Or judges can distribute them among the participants based on their performance.
How to Organize a Bug Bounty Event?
Organizing a bug bounty-hunting event is a valuable way for organizations to find and relieve system weaknesses. This can also be a great way to help bring attention to a newly launched program. Here are some steps organizations should take:
- Define the scope of the event. The scope involves determining what systems or applications the event will focus on and what vulnerabilities will be eligible for rewards.
- Set the rules and guidelines of the event. This includes establishing the testing methodology, the format of vulnerability reports, and the reward system.
- Choose the platform for the event, whether it be an online platform or an in-person event. We will go into detail with this further in this article.
- Have a clear communication plan. You can invite security professionals, researchers, and enthusiasts to participate in the event. Clear communication and support throughout the event are essential, including updates on the event schedule, rules, and guidelines.
After the event, evaluating the vulnerabilities reported and rewarding the participants is crucial. Gathering feedback and using it to improve the next event is recommended.
Online vs. In-Person Bug Bounty Events
Online or in-person bug bounty-hunting events are the most popular options for format. Organizations can also host private events for internal teams, specific invitees, or public events open to a broader audience. Choosing between the two types of platforms will depend on the organization’s needs for the event.
Online platforms such as HackerOne, Bugcrowd, and Synack are commonly used to host bug bounty-hunting events. Discord and Twitch are also popular platforms. These platforms provide tools for managing the event, tracking submissions, and rewarding participants. Online events are the more cost-effective, allow access to a global talent pool, and offer increased visibility to hackers. These online events can include conferences and webinars, too.
In-person events provide participants with a unique and immersive experience. By being face-to-face, they create better communication and collaboration interactions. They make close networking opportunities, produce hands-on training with immediate feedback, and give organizations a better view of the weaknesses in their system.
Tips and Strategies for Hacker Success
Participating in a bug bounty-hunting event can be an equally challenging and rewarding experience. To increase your chances of success, it is essential to:
- Research the technical range of the event and familiarize yourself with the systems and applications you will use to target.
- Developing a strategy for finding and reporting vulnerabilities is also crucial. This can include prioritizing targets, testing methodologies, and collaboration with other participants.
- Work on your communication and collaboration skills. Participants should share information and coordinate efforts to maximize the number of vulnerabilities found.
- Properly documenting findings is also essential, including detailed information about the vulnerability, the steps to reproduce it, and the impact it could have on the system.
- Following the event’s guidelines and rules is essential to avoid disqualification and maintain ethical standards. The most important of these guidelines is obtaining the necessary permissions before testing.
List of Bug Bounty Events, Conferences, and Webinars:
Many bug bounty events occur worldwide, both online and in person. Here is a list of some of these events or platforms to find these events in 2023:
- HackAList allows you to find hackathons near you with customizations such as travel reimbursements, prizes, accessibility, and accept high schoolers.
- Hack-Dearborn March 11, 2023, at the University of Michigan Dearborn, is an excellent hackathon for students to learn about ethical hacking.
- LA HACKS on April 21-23, 2023, in Los Angeles, California, is all about community building for students.
- Major League Hacking Event Season 2023 is a massive student hackathon league that provides students with a list of upcoming events worldwide.
- Bug Bounty Hunter Den on Discord is a server dedicated to sharing knowledge and creating bug bounty events.
- Bug Bounty Hunter Hackevents List is their online platform where they post their upcoming events.
- Devpost is a dedicated list of hackathons and bug bounty events.
- Blackhat Events and Webinars:
- Eventbrite is the go-to site for registering for events. By searching on their website, you can find online or in-person hacking events near you.
- DEF CON 31 on August 10-13, 2023, in Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the largest security conferences in the world.
- HackerOne Webinar Series offers exclusive access to webinars with experts in the field on various topics.
- HackerOne Event Lists is another location to check out for hackathons, bug bounty events, and much more!
Additional Resources for Bug Bounty Hunting Events
In addition to participating in bug bounty events, individuals can also take advantage of training and educational resources to improve their skills. Some popular platforms offer training and educational resources.
Check out our article for more information on bug bounty courses and certifications.
Bug bounty-hunting events are an effective and engaging way for security enthusiasts and professionals to find and report weaknesses in a system. By following best practices, developing a solid strategy, and utilizing the right resources, participants can improve their chances of success and earn rewards.
Organizations and individuals must know the importance of compliance and ethical considerations in bug bounty-hunting events. With the proper knowledge, skills, and resources, bug bounty hunting events can be fun and challenging to build skills, network with other security professionals, and contribute to the security community.
Organizations should consider hosting a bug bounty hunting event to find vulnerabilities in their systems and reward the researchers who see them. Individuals interested in bug bounty hunting should participate in events to gain experience and improve their skills.