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From Pentester to AppSec

Transitioning from Pentester to AppSec Engineer

In today's AppSec landscape, a pentester's skills can serve as a formidable foundation for transitioning into AppSec Engineering. If the idea of repetitive pentesting tasks feels monotonous and you're eyeing roles like CISO in the future, let's navigate this transition together.

My Journey into AppSec

From my experience, transitioning from pentesting to a dedicated code reviewer and eventually to an AppSec Engineer for multiple companies has been a fulfilling journey. In AppSec, every day offers novel challenges. Unlike the often black and white world of pentesting, solutions in AppSec often reside in shades of grey, influenced by various constraints.

The Allure of AppSec Engineering

AppSec is a cocktail of pentesting, design review, code assessment, and consultation. It's an ideal shift if:

  • You crave stability over frequently changing work locations.
  • You wish to hone your skills, particularly in design and code review.

Also, AppSec engineers often relish attractive compensation packages. And the cherry on top? Most roles don't require exhaustive report writing!

Prepping for AppSec

1. Understanding Modern Development:

Grasping the development lifecycle and contemporary development techniques is paramount. For those new to devops, consider delving into books like "The Phoenix Project" and "The Unicorn Project". Remember, the goal is to assist engineers; understanding their workflows is pivotal.

2. Skills to Cultivate:

  • Technical: Augment your pentesting acumen with programming and a keen understanding of various frameworks.
  • Meta Skills: Emphasize communication, collaboration, and teamwork. Unlike solo hacking endeavours, AppSec emphasizes collective efforts to fortify software security.

3. Training:

Platforms like PentesterLab, especially their code review badge, are invaluable. However, myriad free resources online can aid in this transition. As with pentesting, continuous learning and staying abreast of security evolutions is crucial.

4. Tool Proficiency:

Familiarize yourself with indispensable tools like Docker, Git, and hone your scripting abilities in your preferred language.

5. Bug Bounty Familiarity:

Anticipate handling bug bounty findings as they're frequently part and parcel of AppSec roles.


Embarking on a journey from pentesting to AppSec Engineering can be an exhilarating experience. It opens avenues to explore diverse challenges while leveraging your existing skill set.