“Hacker” is a term that refers to a person who is capable of deceiving an organization by bypassing their security systems using advanced technological skills. Their main motivation behind these kinds of activities can be to commit theft, fraud, breach, or other such nefarious activities, or maybe just for the fun as it. In any case, cyber attacks cause huge losses of wealth. In every 11 seconds, one business is falling into a trap of ransomware.
There is no guarantee that an organization will be all. Even if it happens, it would cost time and money. The attacks also damage the reputation of the company and in the worst case, it leads to legal actions. How would you protect your company from such attacks? This is beautiful hackers come into play.
What is Ethical Hacking?
The system of an organization is likely to face attacks from a hacker. The hacker may try to gain access to the company’s database and extract sensitive data and use them for their own benefit. The system should be well equipped with the security tools that would be able to stop the attackers from getting in. But how will you measure the preparedness of the security systems at the time of the attack? Ethical hackers are security experts who attempt to gain unauthorized access to the system by replicating the techniques commonly used by hackers. They analyze the feedback from the system and make a report on the basis of the assessment. Then they suggest if the system is ready to face the attack or would require upgradation.
Role of an Ethical Hacker-
The main task of a white hat ethical hacker is to approach the system of the company as a regular hacker and make attempts to penetrate the system. Their goal is not to steal data but to report vulnerabilities and suggest countermeasures to the security of the system. Also, it is equally important for the organization to respond to the reported vulnerabilities, else the security skills of an ethical hacker would get wasted.
Protocols that an Ethical hacker should follow-
Ethical hackers deal with sensitive information and are equipped with the same knowledge as that of a hacker. So, they have to adhere to the protocol concept-
- Stay Legal- Take the proper approval and permission before performing attacks.
- Define the scope- It is important to define the boundaries of the assessment for the work to remain on legal grounds.
- Report Vulnerabilities- Provide detailed feedback about the assessment and report all the vulnerabilities detected. Also, suggest ways to remove those vulnerabilities.
- Respect the sensitivity of the data- As a hacker, you will have to with sensitive data of an organization. So, you may need to sign a disclosure agreement and other related terms and conditions with the organization. It is important for the safety of the data.
How do ethical hackers benefit others?
An estimate suggests that cybercrime globally costs around $6 trillion in 2021. This is a huge amount that needs multilayer solutions. Ethical hacking is one of the methods of counteracting cybercrimes by disrupting their procedure. Stronger cybersecurity can cause hackers to fail in their attempts to hack into a system. Ethical hacking is essential for companies and governments to safeguard their data from breaches and financial losses that may be caused by them.
What is the difference between an ethical hacker and a malicious hacker?
Both kinds of hackers are equipped with the same knowledge and tools, but the motive behind their usage makes the difference. Ethical hackers use their skills to secure the data of an organization. They check for vulnerabilities in the system and provides advice for remedy. So ethical hacking is having the fun of hacking fully without breaking the law or causing loss. On the other hand, malicious hackers are motivated by financial gains, recognition, just for harmful fun. They use the vulnerabilities that are present in the system to gain access to the database and extract data. Their target is the security posture of the organization. The extracted data can be sold in the black market or utilized in some other way.
Is ethical hacking even legal?
Ethical hackers try and penetrate the system of an organization only after taking proper permission and approval. They come in agreement with various terms and conditions and only after that the ethical hackers start their job. Their work will remain legal as long as the criteria are met and they stick to the protocols and standards set by the organization.
Legal actions would be taken if they try to mess with the data that they may have gained access to. So, the protection of the data of the organization is the job of the ethical hacker.
Differentiating the hacker by the color-
Different colors are assigned to the types of hackers. There are mainly 3 types of hackers- black, grey, and white. However, in the dictionary of the hackers, red, green, and blue hackers are also present.
- White hat hackers- They are the good guys among the hackers. There aim to detect the deficiencies in the security of the system and make it stronger. Their intentions are for the best interest of the organization they are working for.
- Black Hat Hackers- They are exactly the opposite of white hat hackers. They are the bad guys in the game. They aim at causing damage by trying and hacking into systems of organizations, steal sensitive data and sell them in black markets for financial gains. They cause huge financial damage and they have no ethics other than their primary goal of making money as much as possible and this fact makes them very dangerous.
- Grey hat hackers- As the color suggests, they lie somewhere between black and white hat hackers. They do not aim at financial gains, but for entertainment or some other activity. They often cross the boundaries set by law.
- Red hat hackers- They are hackers with the same motive as the white hat hackers, to provide security to the data of an organization. The difference between them is that red hackers move one step ahead by fighting back using their weapons and try and infect the systems of the hackers themselves. They try to destroy their network and the resources.
- Blue hat hackers- These are hackers acting as external consultants in the companies and apply the methods used by ethical hackers to find bugs before it starts running. The color blue comes from the fact that Microsoft uses them to find bugs in windows systems and the color blue is used to mark them.
- Green hat hackers- Green hat hackers are mainly beginners in this area. This term is used to refer to the novice of the fields who tend to ask a lot of questions in the communities to get familiar with the systems.
What will it need to become an ethical hacker?
In case you are a black hat hacker who has decided to leave the path of crime and replace the hat with a white one, then you are already familiar with your job. You just need to get familiar with the laws and ethics and you are good to go.
Like any other field, passion is one of the most important ingredients for success. The aspiring hacker should gain proficient knowledge of programming and networking while getting help from a professional. You need to able to think like a hacker, which is the basis for this job. You need a clear concept of hacking to be able to reach your ultimate goal.
For people aspiring to be ethical hackers, there are a lot of certification courses available. Many IT companies have mandatory criteria of certification for recruitment. So you need to take a Certified Ethical Hacker course in order to start a rewarding career in this field. You can go on to become a security professional, intrusion analyst, and another such specialist.
It is not enough to do a bare minimum of a certification course. Hackers are upgrading themselves regularly and you will have to do the same. You have to achieve this by participating in discussions in communities, doing projects, etc.
The skillset of an ethical hacker-
Ethical hackers are expected to have proficiency in database handling, operating systems, and some soft skills too so that they can communicate matters regarding the security of the organization to the other employees. The other technical skills that they need to have a good grasp is-
- Network traffic sniffing
- Exploit buffer overflow vulnerabilities
- Orchestrate various network attacks
- SQL injection
- DNS spoofing
- Password guessing and cracking
- Session hijacking and spoofing
Another criterion to be a successful ethical hacker is to be creative and be able to think like a hacker. This is needed to come up with new techniques of hacking to make the system more secure.
The criminals are always one step ahead of you-
The hackers dedicate their lives to searching their way through the security systems and their devices set up by security folks. The hackers seem to have an edge over the security experts. Watkin says, “The saying on the cybersecurity side is that the hackers only have to be successful only once in getting in, the security folks have to be successful all the time. To prevent something from getting in.”
Top ethical hackers earn a lot-
The top ethical hackers often make as much as 16 times the median salary of the software engineers of the country. This does make ethical hacking a bit more lucrative than software engineering, isn’t it?
Ethical hacking is a young person’s game-
It is observed that around 90% of ethical hackers are younger than 35. This field is dominated by young minds trying to make a career in the safety of the digital space.
Big companies are not the only target of the black hat hackers-
The big companies generally appoint ethical hackers in order to keep the security of the system tight and their data safe. This prevents the attacks from hackers to be successful.
Instead, they target the small companies, who ignore the safety features due to a lack of funds. The small companies remain to be vulnerable to attacks from hackers. There are cases where small companies act as a link to big companies. The database of the small company may contain a backdoor to the big company and help the hacker to get into the system of other companies. Even individuals are targeted by hackers for small gains because their systems are relatively easy to get into. So, each and everyone, regardless of their position should be careful about cybersecurity.
Ignorance is not an option-
Around 60% of the small companies which are a victim of a cyber attack and faced cyber breach, went out of business within a year of the incident. Ignoring the cybersecurity of the organization in this digital world is not acceptable. Organizations need to appoint a dedicated team for the company’s security and keep the systems up-to-date. Spending the required amount on prevention is much better than losing everything to an attack. Security of the data is not an option but a necessity. In case of failure, the severity of the incident can cause legal actions against the organization.
There are ethics in ethical hacking-
Ethical hacking students get access to the tools and the knowledge o hacking. They do have the potential to do harm to others. So, the students also need to learn to be responsible along with being good hackers. The need to learn to act ethically.
There are cases where criminally minded people get a certification of ethical hacking course online and cause mishaps by using it for the wrong reasons. It is the responsibility of the individual to remain on ethical grounds and follow the code of ethics that is set up by the employers.
The role of women in cybersecurity is growing-
There are lot more women professionals, students, and enthusiasts of cybersecurity than before. It is important to have more women participate in this field. Women have a different perspective and viewpoint which can be helpful for having a diverse security system capable of stopping more complicated attacks.
New pieces of malware are developed daily-
Hackers all over the world develop more than 300,000 pieces of malware daily. The new malware is then used to attack organizations in an attempt to breach their data. New malware has an edge because they are new to security specialists.
Certified Ethical Hackers need to update themselves and upgrade their tools regularly to be able to stop the attacks from hackers with the new and powerful malware.
Ethical hackers use the same tools and technology as the black hat hackers-
Certified Ethical Hackers use the same tools as black hat hackers. They perform the same attacks that are usually undergone by them, they try to break into the system and access the secured data by infiltration, to assess the level of the security of the system. They replicate the attacks that may be done by black hat hackers to see the readiness of the security system in case of a real attack
They create a report on the basis of their observation and send them to the manager. They also suggest possible ways to make the system more secure. The organization then needs to implement the remedies to remove the vulnerabilities that are reported by the ethical hacker. This step is essential for the improvement of the security system of the organization and to be able to stop the attack from hackers.
The phrase “ethical hacking” was first used in 1995-
Though the first use of the term ethical hacking date back to 1995 by Vice President John Patrick, the concept was in existence for a long time.
The US Department of defense is one of the biggest employers of cybersecurity experts and ethical hackers. But they will not recruit just any hacker, you need to be certified in an ethical hacking course to be able to get this job. This also provides you job security. Ethical hacking is all over a lucrative field after all.
Certified Ethical Hackers have also developed software for the software industry-
Earlier, many people claiming they as hackers who used to be great developers. Many of them were contributors to the open-source software movement. They produced, improvised, and tested much of the open-source code.
The demand for an ethical hacker is not likely to go down in near future-
Technology is getting sophisticated every day, so are the attacks of hackers. There are new organizations that get created every year and all of their needs to be protected. The number of organizations will continue to increase and hackers will continue to attack systems to gain access. The demand for the highly trained certified ethical hacker is high and will remain to be high.
How to become a certified ethical hacker–
There are a lot of topics that you need to cover for you to become an ethical hacker. In-depth knowledge in the following subjects is necessary-
Learning programming and Operating system-
As an ethical hacker, you will have to work on various operating systems like Windows, Linux, iOS, on a daily basis.
So, you need a good amount of knowledge about all kinds of OS to be able to check for vulnerabilities in the system.
Knowledge of network and security-
A vivid knowledge of network and security concepts plays an important role in the career of ethical hacking. These concepts include systems like VPNs, firewalls, cryptography, etc. They have to be well versed in these concepts.
Knowledge in cryptography-
Sound knowledge in cryptography is mandatory for a successful career in ethical hacking.
Joining a certification course-
There are many training programs and certification courses that are made available seeing the growing demand of aspirants in this field. Signing up in these courses helps you enhance your skills and give a real-world environment for you to practice and master the techniques.
Certification also adds credibility to your knowledge. Many companies have set a criterion of having a certificate to be able to apply for a job. So, it is always advised that you take up a course and work diligently towards your goal of becoming an ethical hacker. There are many other qualities like patience, resourcefulness, adaptability, logical and analytical thinking, observation skills, problem-solving skills, and attitude of taking challenges that are needed for being a good ethical hacker.
The strategies of ethical hackers-
The strategies of ethical hackers are to test for all kinds of vulnerabilities that they can detect and fix. There are 5 main types of vulnerabilities that an ethical hacker can detect-
- Broken authentication– The user of a web application will be able to bypass the authentication process if this type of vulnerability is present. The ethical hackers test for this vulnerability and fix it.
- Security Misconception– The organisations may have misconception about the security system they have. Often there are security gaps that can be a serious threat to the company if the black hat hackers come across these. The false notion of a good cyber security is harmful for the company and the ethical hackers needs to identify these gaps to reduce the risk.
- Injection attacks– The attacker can inject malicious code in the system and change the program. The ethical hackers penetrate the application to find the weak areas from which the codes can be injected.
- Components with known vulnerabilities– The organisations often ignore the vulnerabilities which have already been found. The works of ethical hackers will be wasted if actions are not taken to remove the vulnerabilities.
- Sensitive data exposure– The sensitive data of the users of an organisation can be put to risk if this kind of vulnerability is present. The data may contain contact information, credit card details, private health data. These details can lead to data breach if not fixed.
Career Opportunities of an ethical hacker-
After doing a course of a certified ethical hacker, the students get a job in various profiles like-
- Security Analyst
- Information Security Manager
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Ethical Hacker
- Information Security Analyst
- Security Consultant
- Penetration Tester
All these are jobs related to cybersecurity and have the motive of making the security of the system strong. The aim is to keep sensitive data secure.
The demand for an ethical hacker is high and it is growing rapidly. All sectors, from IT to banking, have recruited ethical hackers to secure their data.
Various areas of job availability-
There is a constant need for ethical hackers in these firms to rule out threats or attacks in cyberspace. You can also work as a freelancer and works in more than one organization o6r company.
Network Security Engineer
They have the duty of handling and maintaining the network like the corporate WAN, LAN, and other server architecture. They also enforce the network security policy and look after the security hardware and software.
Network Security Administrator
They write the policies of network security and perform audits frequently to keep the policies up-to-date. In case of a breach, they even take corrective steps.
They analyze and evaluate the security systems of the existing system and infrastructure and report the weaknesses to prevent unauthorized access and loss of data.
They try and break into systems and report the vulnerabilities of the system. They plan to find out vulnerabilities and create reports on the basis of the assessment. They advise the management on the improvement of the security systems and prevent loss of data n case of an attack.
Pros and cons of ethical hacking-
- There is a huge and growing demand for ethical hackers in the market.
- This path is not a conventional one that people usually follow, but this surely has the highest potential of earning.
- Cybercrimes can be prevented.
- The weaker areas of the IT environment can be identified.
- There is a demand to test security IT firms for ethical hackers. The target is to make them more robust.
- Even though there is a high demand, there is great inconsistency in the hiring of security professionals.
- The certificate should be from a recognized institute or else it won’t be very helpful in landing a job for you.
- There are not enough facilities for research in India.
- The work is mostly part-time.
- This is a highly focused field with less interaction.
- There are people who use ethical hacking for the wrong purpose. This causes a lack of trust among companies. They are not able to trust ethical hackers easily.
What is the future of ethical hacking?
This field is likely to see exponential growth in the years that are coming as the world is making a shift towards a digital economy. Every growing industry will need cybersecurity experts to perform ethical hacking to keep the security of the system strong enough to be able to survive attacks from black hackers.
IEMLabs was established in 2016 with the vision of providing cyber security to the digital space. Black hat hackers are capable of hacking into systems and this causes huge losses to the company in terms of loss in finance as well as face loss. This can be stopped by finding out the vulnerabilities in the company’s system by conducting Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing (VAPT) methods. IEMLabs provides various cyber security the best quality services like VAPT with the vision of providing cyber security.
Gradually, along with providing services, the vision broadened into teaching students in the field of cyber security and turn potential likeminded individual into cyber security experts. IEMLabs provides various courses to educate the enthusiasts. The fields of courses further expanded to fields like Android Applications, Security Products, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Products, etc.
Why choose IEMLabs?
IEMLabs aims at delivering the best quality cyber security services to the client. They also have experienced faculties for all the courses they provide and aim at making the students a better professional in their field. The broader aim of the company is to contribute cyber security to the digital space and make it a safe place.