Penetration Testing vs Bug Bounty

Both can be used to fix and detect vulnerabilities. What is the difference between Bug bounty and Penetration testing? Which one should you choose?

Penetration Testing is used to identify vulnerabilities in web development platforms and simulate attacks to prevent them. What is the difference? Which one should you choose?

What’s Penetration Testing?

Pen Testing, also known as penetration testing, is a method of security testing used to identify vulnerabilities, bugs, threats, and other issues in software systems or web applications that could be exploited by an attacker. This is a simulated attack which penetration testers and ethical hackers use to identify all vulnerabilities in software systems and then cover them.

What’s a bug bounty program?

The Bug Bounty program is an incentivized deal offered by many websites, software developers through which hackers and individuals can be recognized for reporting bugs and vulnerabilities. These are programs that run for a set period of time. These programs are usually run for the entire product’s life and allow hackers to discover new vulnerabilities as the software changes.

Differences Between Pentests and Bug Bounty

Penetration testing costs can range from $4,000 up to $100,000, depending on the nature of the software system and the scope of the assessment. Complex or extensive applications may cost more than this. According to RSI/u-tor, a professional penetration test can be between $10,000 and $30,000.

Bug Bounty software is generally cheaper than pentest programs, as hackers are paid per bug discovered. Bug bounty is a well-known investment by companies like Apple and Facebook.

Facebook pays a $500 minimum for bugs accepted, but no maximum. This means that there is no upper limit to the value of a bug. The largest Facebook bounty payout is $50,000. Apple will pay up to $1million for the most valuable iOS bugs.
Source: Wired

Some bug bounty programs are also free, and researchers who rank highly on hosting platform websites receive other incentives.


Penetration testing has the following advantages:

  • It identifies vulnerabilities in the system. It generates a report that describes all vulnerabilities and errors in the system.
  • It shows hackers how to exploit the system. It also highlights areas that need improvement.
  • It employs small, dedicated teams to find vulnerabilities faster
  • It allows testers to test both internal and external systems

These are the advantages of bug bounty programs:

  • Bug bounty program allows you multiple opinions on your test, as there are many testers and researchers with different skill sets working on it
  • It’s cheaper than penetration testing
  • To test programs, you define boundaries and establish rules. You choose what to test, and how far to test the application.
  • There is no additional cost. You don’t need to pay extra if your researcher finds nothing in the assessment.


Pentests have the following disadvantages:

  • They can cause serious problems for your system if they aren’t done correctly. They could even cause damage to your system or cause the server to crash.
  • Penetration testing is performed by a small group of highly skilled testers
  • It depends on the scope and time of the project.
  • Continuous testing does not include penetration testing

Bug Bounty programs have the following disadvantages:

  • The bug bounty program is a voluntary program where no one can take ownership. They know they will only be paid if the vulnerabilities are discovered.
  • Trust issues can arise when you hand over a project to someone or a company because you don’t know the person.
  • Only test websites or web applications, and only when they are available to the general public

The scope of the Pen Testing depends on the needs of each client. There are many types of pen testing assessments: internal testing, external testing or embedded system testing.

The Bug Bounty programs test web applications and websites that are open to the general public. Bug bounty programs cannot detect vulnerabilities in websites or web applications before they become public.


Penetration testing is usually done for a brief period of time, i.e. Two to three days, twice per year.

Bug Bounty programs, on the other hand are not tied to a time period. Continuous testing is why bug bounty programs can be used. These programs are ideal for companies that regularly release updates or products.



These steps are required for penetration testing.

  1. Phase of planning
  2. Phase of discovery
  3. Attack phase
  4. Phase 2: Reporting vulnerabilities


These are the steps to launch a bug bounty program:

  1. Establish a vulnerability assessment program
  2. Be sure to decide on the price and scope of the program
  3. Choose whether you want a bug bounty program that is public or private.
  4. Establish a test environment that is appropriate to the nature and purpose of your application
  5. Determine the blackout dates, and the quite periods
  6. Get support from related departments
  7. Start small with a test
  8. Recrute the right people
  9. Publicize the bug bounty program
  10. Are you ready to fix the vulnerability?


Pen testing is performed by experienced hackers who are employed by specialist cyber security firms. It is a requirement that professional ethical hackers have completed qualifications in cyber security. This ensures they are well-versed in the technical and ethical aspects of hacking. It is standard practice for penetration testers to verify the identity of any person before they begin work.

Bug Bounty programs are also popular with professional ethical hackers. However, anyone can sign up for a program. Testing will usually be done by a mix of professionals and amateurs with vastly different experience, knowledge, ethics, and knowledge.


Penetration testing provides you with a list of vulnerabilities and feedback about your application. They also provide the support you need to overcome these vulnerabilities.

Bug Bountyprograms, on the other hand will give you only a report that describes the vulnerability and no feedback. Rarely will an organization give you feedback if it is trying to work with your team.

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