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12 Obscure Ethical Hacking Techniques for Bug Bounties

Bug bounty programs have revolutionized the way companies approach cybersecurity. These initiatives invite ethical hackers to discover and report vulnerabilities in exchange for monetary rewards. As these programs become increasingly popular, the competition among hackers to find and report bugs grows fiercer. To stand out and claim those coveted bounties, it's essential to delve into obscure ethical hacking techniques. In this article, we will explore some lesser-known strategies that can help you get ahead in the bug bounty game.

1. Subdomain Enumeration

While subdomain enumeration might not be obscure to seasoned hackers, it is often overlooked by beginners. Many organizations have a complex web of subdomains that are less frequently monitored and easier to exploit. Using tools like Amass, Sublist3r, or SubFinder can help you discover these overlooked domains. By identifying subdomains and performing reconnaissance on them, you can find vulnerabilities that others might miss.

2. API and Mobile Application Testing

Many bug bounty hunters primarily focus on web applications, but mobile apps and APIs are equally lucrative targets. Mobile applications often have weak authentication, insecure data storage, or other vulnerabilities that are overlooked. By delving into the world of mobile app security, you can find unique bugs like insecure API endpoints, sensitive data exposure, or even server-side issues.

3. Fuzzing Techniques

Fuzzing involves feeding an application with a large number of random or semi-random data in an attempt to crash it or discover vulnerabilities. This technique is commonly used, but there are obscure avenues to explore within fuzzing, such as differential fuzzing and protocol-specific fuzzing. Differential fuzzing compares the behavior of two or more similar implementations of a protocol, aiming to find inconsistencies and potential vulnerabilities. Protocol-specific fuzzing targets specific protocols like DNS, DHCP, or SMB, which are often overlooked by other hackers.

4. Web Caching and CDN Exploitation

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and web caching systems are designed to optimize website performance, but they can also introduce security risks. By exploring how these systems interact with the origin server and handling cache-related headers, you may find cache poisoning or data leakage vulnerabilities. These issues can be obscure but have a significant impact on web application security.

5. Bluetooth Hacking

With the increasing use of IoT devices, Bluetooth hacking presents an emerging area for bug hunting. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices can have vulnerabilities that range from weak encryption to device impersonation. Researchers who dive into this realm can find obscure but high-value bugs that lead to unauthorized access, data theft, or even control over IoT devices.

6. Protocol Fuzzing

Protocol fuzzing is a technique where an attacker sends a large amount of random or unexpected data to an application to detect vulnerabilities. This method is especially useful when dealing with applications that use custom or lesser-known protocols. By injecting malformed data and analyzing the application's response, you can uncover unexpected behavior or vulnerabilities that might go unnoticed through traditional testing methods.

7. DOM Clobbering

DOM Clobbering is a method to manipulate the Document Object Model (DOM) of a web page by overwriting objects and properties. This technique can help you find cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities that might not be easily discoverable using traditional payloads. By carefully manipulating the DOM, you can provoke the application into executing your malicious code.

8. Binary Analysis

While binary analysis is a more advanced technique, it can be incredibly valuable for bug bounty hunters who target native applications and firmware. Reverse engineering binary files allows you to uncover vulnerabilities and exploits in areas where source code isn't readily accessible. This method is particularly useful for finding security issues in embedded systems, IoT devices, and proprietary software.

9. Protocol-Level Attacks

Many bug hunters focus on web application security, but protocol-level attacks can be highly rewarding. For example, by understanding and manipulating network protocols, you can find vulnerabilities in networked devices and services. Protocol-level attacks might include DNS cache poisoning, ARP spoofing, or IP fragmentation attacks, all of which can lead to critical security flaws.

10. Timing Attacks

Timing attacks are subtle and powerful methods to exploit vulnerabilities by exploiting the time it takes for an application to respond to specific inputs. These attacks can reveal cryptographic vulnerabilities, password hashes, and sensitive information. Timing attacks are often overlooked, making them an obscure but effective approach to uncovering security weaknesses.

11. Protocol Reverse Engineering

Understanding and reverse engineering custom network protocols can open doors to uncovering obscure security flaws. This is especially useful in scenarios where you are dealing with non-standard communication protocols that may be unique to certain applications or services. By gaining insight into how these protocols work, you can better identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities.


The world of ethical hacking is constantly evolving, and to stay ahead in the bug bounty game, it's crucial to explore lesser-known techniques and vulnerabilities. By delving into subdomain enumeration, mobile apps, fuzzing, web caching, Bluetooth, GraphQL, and firmware and hardware hacking, you can discover obscure but high-value bugs that set you apart from the competition. Remember that while these techniques might be less popular, they can lead to significant payouts and recognition in the bug hunting community. However, always act responsibly, adhere to the bug bounty program's rules, and obtain proper authorization before probing any system or application. Happy bug hunting!

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