Is it really ethical? What does ethical hacking entails? Is it really necessary? These are some of the questions often asked by those outside the cybersecurity community or those just entering in. A computer hacker is a computer and networking expert who follow a standard procedure to try to hack a computer system or network on behalf of it’s owners in order to to discover security vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could potentially take advantage of. As a result of technological change and change in attack patterns companies have come to realize that “locking the doors” isn’t the best approach to safeguard their information assets. In order to withstand a variety of attacks that evolve as adversaries do, there is a need to continuously test their computer networks. The ethical hacking industry has been in the spotlight in recent years since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been revised. The digital world has witnessed a massive growth and development in recent years. It has also become a battleground where organizations, businesses and government agencies are struggling hard to keep their systems and data safe from black hat hackers and cyber criminals. Knowing who your enemies are and how they operate is very important in every battle. The world is in dire need of special breed of IT specialists that can look into cyber criminal minds and anticipate their next move. This special breed of IT specialists are called the ‘Ethical hackers’.
“Ethical hacker is an information security professional. Ethical hacker is nothing more than a computer bodyguard. This is a computer bodyguard trained in the exact same skills as the bad guy. Ethical hackers are trying out their best to determine if a hacker were to attack your network, how would they do it? Many government agencies, professionals and corporations now understand that if you want to protect a system you cannot do it by just locking your door. You must have someone come in and test to see if all of your security measures actually yield any results. When are you going to check that? The day a hacker really gets in?” – BavisiBavisi, President and Co-Founder EC-Council
Blackhat hackers can steal various sorts of information such as business plans, financial reports, emails and databases. Hacking this sort of confidential information will undoubtedly have an adverse effects on the organizations and eventually led to lose of trusts in the minds of their customers. To forestall the occurrence of such type of attacks and embarrassments, companies are always on the look out for individuals with great hacking skills and the opportunities for such type of people is going to be large and endless. The need for ethical hackers has been on the rise due to the massive amount of data hacks and information leaks witnessed by companies. It is a great setback for companies to become victims of hacks and information leaks since this lead not only to financial loss but also lost of trust and a damage to their reputation. To aid the society in preventing the illegal activities that took place due to data breaches, ethical hacking techniques are deployed. Learning ethical hacking leads to a successful career and enable one to protect his/her online data and help others protect theirs. As a result of their confidential information hacked and leaked online by black hat hackers, many people have committed suicide. An ethical hacker can prevents such acts thereby contributing his part to the society.
Network security vulnerabilities are identified and patched in ethical hacking before a malicious hacker identifies these vulnerabilities first and exploit them. You are up to a hard time securing your computer network from black hat hackers if you don’t know how the black hat hackers could get into your computer network in the first place. You can put in place the strongest possible security practices and resolve issues before they become dangerous if you are familiar with the way malicious hackers hack into computer systems. Malicious hackers operate at a greater advantage to network defenders. Theoretically, a network defender needs to identify and amend all possible vulnerabilities in the network’s internal and perimeter security whereas the hacker only needs to spot and exploit a single vulnerability to gain access to the network. Understanding the hacker mindset can be highly rewarding for spotting and triaging the several vulnerabilities discovered in the corporate network. Knowledge and experience with penetration testing tools and best practices can help to enhance development and security testing processes and procedures for developers and quality assurance testers.
As an analogy, consider a computer network as a yard with a valuable kept inside and a fence to keep people out. Thieves will still make effort to scale the fence and steal the valuable. Ethical hacking is like regularly checking for vulnerabilities in and around the fence so that you can block any loophole that a thief could use to get in.
Ethical hacking job is very interesting. As an ethical hacker you will find yourself always in the process of brainstorming as old attack techniques evolve into a new one and more ways of attacking systems are hatched by the bad guys. There is a need for you to keep testing and trying things out in order to help your employers stay ahead of cyber criminals. An ethical hacker can choose to work in any field of interest since every organization requires an ethical hacker. Private and public agencies are increasingly faced with online attacks and so therefore they are willing to offer generous salary to ethical hackers to safeguard their systems from malicious attacks. An ethical hacker seeks out for a vulnerability, exploits it and reports the result to the right authority and in the process experience the thrill of hacking into a system which undeniably provides an exhilarating experience. In the process of ethical hacking one learns how to protect oneself from all kinds of cyber crimes that ranges from password theft to credit card fraud.
Types of hackers include white hat hacker, black hat hacker, grey hat hacker, script kiddie and hacktivist. A white hat hacker is the ethical hacker. White hat do not hack without obtaining permission from the proper authority. White hat hacker uses the same tools, techniques and procedures (TTP) like the black hat hacker to compromise a computer network. Ethical hacker documents everything he does and submits the report to the proper authority at the end of the penetration testing exercise. Black hat is the malicious hacker that hack into people’s computers to steal their data mostly for financial gain. Grey hat hacker is in between the white hat hacker and the black hat hacker. The grey hat hacker does not obtain information before attempting to scan for vulnerabilities on a computer network, however he does not exploit the vulnerability to his/her advantage, instead he/she report the vulnerability to the computer network owners. A script kiddie is a hacker with no advanced knowledge in hacking who therefore only uses ready made tools to hack into computer network without actually knowing how they work behind the scene. Hactivist is a hacker who hacks to make a political statement. Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) also called Nation State actors are the most dangerous hackers who have time and money at their disposal and are usually hacking for their countries to spy on another country or for cyber warfare.
HOW TO TO BECOME AN ETHICAL HACKER
There are many paths to becoming an ethical hacker. The path you takes depends upon your objective. If you are just interested in learning ethical hacking and you don’t need to prove to anyone your ethical hacking skills then you can go for free resources to study ethical hacking or go for paid courses such as Udemy courses, Coursera and SkillShare. If you wish to work as freelance ethical hacker and you have no experience and qualification then you can learn hacking using the free or paid options, get experienced, get certified, contribute back to the community and seek for freelance jobs using the freelance sites such as People Per Hour, Up Work, Freelancer and Fiverr. However if you wish to work full-time as an ethical hacker then you can study any information technology related course in the University – such as Computer Science, Information Technology, Software Engineering, Networking – it doesn’t necessarily have to be cybersecurity. Then you learn hacking using the free or paid resources, get experience, get certified and contribute back to the ethical hacker community. To reinforce and retain what you have learn it is essential that you also contribute back to the community by making a video tutorials of what you have learnt, blog post and by participating in Capture the Flags (CTF) and bug bounty programs.
FREE RESOURCES TO LEARN ETHICAL HACKING
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