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Conference notes: Trickle Down PwnOnomics (LevelUp 0x02 / 2018)

Posted in Conference notes on June 19, 2018

Conference notes: Trickle Down PwnOnomics (LevelUp 0x02 / 2018)

Hi, these are the notes I took while watching the “Trickle Down PwnOnomics” talk given by Darrell Damstedt (aka Hateshape) on LevelUp 0x02 / 2018.


  • This talk is about how Hateshape “went from having zero bug bounty experience to regularly experiencing ($$$) success”.
  • Trickle Down Pwnonomics: A theory promoting the discovery and reduction of vulnerabilities on a bug bounty program as a means to stimulate my bank account.

Helpful things

  • Recommended tool for pentesters: CrackMapExec with the flag --darrell
  • State of Infosec today:

Helpful Thing #1: Learning from the mistakes of others

  • Mistake #1 - Theories are not proof!

    • How much evidence do we need?
    • Do not submit reports that have theoretical possibilities as the whole meat of the report
    • No proof no glory
  • Mistake #2 - Don’t go too fast

    • At what point is a report warranted?
    • Do not submit bugs without explaining their impact
    • Showing the associated risk of a bug matters even after prooving the issue exists
  • Mistake #3 - Scope can kill

    • Be sure an issue is in scope & owned by the program
  • Mistake? #4 - Many may be one

    • If multiple instances of a vulnerability are found, should multiple reports be submitted or dhould the findings be aggregared into one report?
    • Risk: Ending up with 1 triage report and many not applicable
    • Common sense is if a bug requires the program to change their code to fix the issue, it’s a finding that stands alone
    • Submit an aggregate report and trust that programs will truthfully tell us if a one change fixes everything

Helpful Thing #2: Doing things nobody else wants to do

  • Rely on manual analysis on top of using automated tools
    • Manually browse the full site
    • Read the HTML, JavaScript, etc
    • Read any and ALL product documentation (help documentation, administration documentation)
    • Cyber stalk developers, if possible
    • Github, Twitter, Reddit, Google, StackOverflow, Blogs, Forums
    • Read ALL the everything. Manually.
  • Tools are great and should be used on every target
  • Some tools
  • Hateshape’s seven 10K bounties were found manually

Helpful Thing #3: Continuous monitoring

  • Religiously monitor everything new in the bug bounty & penetration testing world
  • Read everything you find
  • Follow the awesome hunters on Twitter, blogs, RSS feeds, full disclosures, Hackerone hacktivity…
  • What to do with all this information?
    • Read a blog post about how a researcher found an issue
    • Would you have found that bug?
    • If yes, compare how you could have found the issue and how the author of the blog post just found it
    • If not, try to figure out what you’re not doing that would make you miss it
    • Try to figure out how to fill the gaps between the two
  • Scrape Bugcrowd Top 200 public rankings via cron job daily all while being alerted to someone new rising in the ranks so you can follow them

Success stories

  • How I Found CVE-2018-8819: Out-of-Band (OOB) XXE in WebCTRL
    • Target scope: *
    • Recon done=
    • WebCTRL page found
    • Reference to help manual found in the source code
    • Read it ALL => nothing
    • WebCTRL version used => CVE of unauthenticated XXE but no details disclosed
    • Tried to reproduce it & found a new CVE
    • Great finding but N/A bug bounty report!
      • “The ISP providing the IP range did not update their ARIN records so it still shows up as an asset”
    • Consolation CVE + recon win
  • Sploit summary
    • Found a target
    • Viewed all resources available (manually)
    • Found a potential issue (CVE)
    • No exploit was published, but knew the type of vulnerability
    • Did a ton of research & found nothing
    • James Kettle FTW
    • Working payload found through trial & error
    • No bounty, but CVE


  • Details may be obvious… to us
  • Don’t be stingy, explain everything
  • Write things once and well!
    • Jason Haddix uses report templates
  • If the proof of concept is complicated, record it


  • Only possible solution: Go all crazy on your setup to placate yourself from the duplicate issues


  • Tools are great, but they don’t make up for thing that we don’t know yet. Then can actually hold us back
  • Embrace manual testing/discovery FTW
  • Be honest with yourself
    • Know what you know & what you don’t
  • Fill in the gaps
  • Read everything
    • both in targets you’re testing & everything new publicly released by researchers
  • Read everything again
  • Take the advice that so many in this community freely give

See you next time!