How to Make More Money Bug Bounty Hunting

How to Make More Money Bug Bounty Hunting

How to Make More Money Bug Bounty Hunting

Bug bounty hunting has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to the media glamorizing the exploits of hackers who have struck it rich, finding security vulnerabilities in software.

However, the reality is that bug bounty hunting is not a get-rich-quick scheme. The most successful bug bounty hunters operate similarly to successful business owners, implementing processes and systems to run their bug bounty endeavors.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to make more money for bug bounty hunting by leveraging strategies that successful bug bounty hunters use to increase their earnings and improve the quality of their work.

Identify Programs Worth Your Time

To earn a better return on your time while bug bounty hunting, the first step is to come to terms with not all programs being created equal.

Identifying the best bug bounty programs is critical in earning more money as a bug bounty hunter.

It’s important to look beyond total payouts and total reports resolved, as these can be misleading indicators of a program’s potential.

Instead, focus on the minimum and maximum payouts the program offers and any bonuses or incentives that may be available.

In addition to minimum and maximum payouts, several other indicators can help narrow your search for the best bug bounty programs. Some of these indicators include the following:

  1. Program scope: Look for programs with clear and specific scope descriptions. This will help you focus on areas more likely to yield results.
  2. Severity ratings: Some programs assign severity ratings to vulnerabilities, with higher ratings indicating more critical vulnerabilities. Look for programs that offer higher payouts for more severe vulnerabilities.
  3. Response time: A program’s response time can be an essential factor. Look for programs with a quick response time, indicating that the program is actively managed and more likely to respond quickly to any discovered vulnerabilities.
  4. Program history: Research a program’s history before submitting any vulnerabilities. Look for programs with a track record of paying out bounties quickly and fairly and avoid programs with a history of being difficult to work with.

Newly launched programs and those with an updated scope are also excellent opportunities, as they are less crowded and offer a greater chance of finding a vulnerability.

Considering these indicators, you can narrow your search for the best bug bounty programs and increase your chances of earning more money.

Pick a Niche and Stick with It

Defining a niche is crucial for earning more money as a bug bounty hunter. You can focus on areas with the most expertise and experience by identifying industry-specific and vulnerability-specific niches. This can increase your chances of finding vulnerabilities and earning higher payouts.

Narrowing your search to applications and networks with a similar architecture to your experience can also be beneficial.

For example, suppose you have experience with web applications built on the Ruby on Rails framework. In that case, you may have a better chance of finding vulnerabilities in other web applications built on the same framework. This is because you are familiar with that framework’s architecture and potential vulnerabilities.

By defining a niche, you can also become known as an expert in that area. This can lead to more opportunities as bug bounty programs seek your expertise for specific projects. Additionally, by focusing on a particular niche, you can develop a reputation for being a reliable and efficient bug bounty hunter, leading to more referrals and higher payouts.

Here are some examples of bug bounty hunting niches based on category:

  • Vulnerability-specific niches:
  • Industry-specific niches:
    • Healthcare
    • FinTech
    • eCommerce
    • Gaming
    • Telecommunications
    • Social media
    • Automotive
    • Aviation
    • Internet of Things (IoT)
    • Government
  • Platform-specific niches:
    • Web applications
    • Mobile applications
    • APIs
    • Network Infrastructure
    • Operating systems

By identifying and specializing in a particular niche, a bug bounty hunter can become an expert in that area and increase their chances of finding valuable vulnerabilities.

It is important to note that bug bounty hunters should continuously expand their skill set and knowledge beyond their niche to adapt to new technologies and emerging threats.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, especially when just starting. Focus on one niche and repeat and refine your testing process. Then, branch out to similar niches once you’ve exhausted all avenues within your target skillset.

Leverage Tools and Systems to Scale

Using tools and systems to scale your efforts is crucial to maximizing your time and earnings in bug bounty hunting.

While tracking your time is essential, tracking it based on the scope, vulnerability, and even the program can give you a better understanding of your productivity and where you’re making the most profit.

Time-tracking tools like Toggl can help you set up projects and track your time spent on each. You can also cap the number of hours you’re willing to spend on a program before you call it quits and move on to another.

Another helpful tool for maximizing productivity is creating templates for reports. This can save you valuable time and make the reporting process more efficient. Here’s a sample report template that you can use to get you started:

Sample Bounty Report Template:

  1. Summary: Brief summary of the bug found and its impact.
  2. Vulnerability Details:
    • Vulnerability Type:
    • Affected Systems:
    • Attack Vector:
    • Description: Detailed description of the bug, including steps to reproduce it.
    • Proof of Concept: Code or steps that demonstrate the vulnerability.
  3. Impact: Describe the potential impact of this vulnerability on the organization, including any sensitive data or functionality that could be affected.
  4. Recommended Fixes: Suggest potential solutions for the issue or provide guidance on how to fix it.
  5. Steps to Reproduce: Detailed steps on how to reproduce the issue.
  6. Attachments: Include screenshots, videos or other relevant files that could help to understand the issue better.
  7. Disclosure Policy: Confirm that you understand the disclosure policy of the organization and the expected timeline for disclosure.
  8. Contact Information: Provide your contact information for follow-up communication.

Additionally, using a calendar system or project management software like Asana can help you block out time for your commitments and avoid overbooking yourself.

Don’t just assume you’ll get to it when you have time; set a schedule and stick to it.

Once you’ve gathered enough data on your bug bounty hunting efforts, you can utilize data visualization tools to identify patterns and areas where you see the best return on investment (ROI).

This can help you to prioritize your time and focus on the programs and vulnerabilities that are most profitable for you.

For example, you might find that you’re having the most success with XSS vulnerabilities in web applications for the financial industry. With this information, you can adjust your approach to prioritize these programs and vulnerabilities in the future.

Avoid a Feast or Famine Mindset

Avoiding a feast or famine mindset is crucial for consistent earnings in bug bounty hunting. While bug bounty hunting can be lucrative, there are times when there may need to be more work available to sustain a steady income.

To combat this, bug bounty hunters should consider leveraging their skills and certifications in other areas to diversify their income streams. Freelancing platforms such as Upwork can provide additional opportunities to earn money while waiting for bug bounty programs to be updated.

Another way to avoid the feast or famine cycle is to explore additional income opportunities beyond bug bounty hunting and freelancing. For example, if you have a background in cybersecurity, consider online course platforms like Thinkific or creating online tutorials on YouTube. You could also leverage your skills to consult companies or provide cybersecurity assessments for individuals or small businesses.

Financial stress can negatively impact your performance, and studies have shown that it can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. By diversifying your income streams, you can reduce the stress that comes with relying on a single source of income. This can improve overall performance in all areas of your work, including bug bounty hunting.

Studies have shown that higher stress levels are associated with lower productivity scores. By avoiding the feast or famine cycle and focusing on other income opportunities, you can reduce financial stress and increase your success in bug bounty hunting and beyond.

Remember: Bug bounty hunting is supposed to be fun and provide organizations with important insights. When your focus becomes narrowed to financial incentives, the ultimate goal of providing quality security research becomes compromised.


As Jordan Belfort, the infamous Wolf of Wall Street, once said, “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

This quote serves as a reminder that bug bounty hunting is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and success requires diligence, discipline, and focus.

By identifying the best programs, defining a niche, and leveraging tools and systems to scale, bug bounty hunters can increase their earnings and improve the quality of their work.

As with any endeavor, it’s essential to continuously expand your knowledge and adapt to new technologies and emerging threats.

Ultimately, the most successful bug bounty hunters operate similarly to successful business owners, implementing processes and systems to run their bug bounty endeavors. So, it’s time to stop making excuses. Start building your finely tuned machine and start printing money.