Getting paid to break into computer system is a sweet one liner meaning of ethical hacking. Here’s Ethical Hacking defined and why no other job is more exciting.
When we hear about incidents of data breach or a hacking on any company, it’s done by hackers known as black hat hackers. This process is illegal and is done with an ill intent. On the other hand ethical hacking is the process of attempting to break a security of any organization by having consent of the company.
These are done by white hat hackers legally. They try to mitigate the security issue before it is found or exploited by any external entity. In any computer system connected to the internet there will always be loopholes hence it becomes necessary to carry out penetrative tests.
The main aim of a Hack
The mindset of hacking is similar, be it black, red or white hats. The main aim is to find security loopholes or vulnerabilities in the system which could in turn be exploited. The vulnerabilities are used to gain unwanted access to the systems.
Hackers can then upload a ransomware or spyware onto the systems. Ransomwares encrypts the files and database of the systems that the company has, without which the organization might not be able to function. In such case, hackers then ask for a big sum to provide back their original data. Similarly a spyware would steal various credentials.
The tricks of the trade
Ethical hackers use similar scanning tools to the black-hats such as Nmap or Nessus to scan the system of the organization. They try injection attacks on them. Moreover, when systems are updated, they usually receive a security patch.
Ethical hackers try to examine these patches to make sure that they can’t be exploited. Also, they might check for the organization credentials such as passwords which might’ve been exposed and dumped onto the dark web. The security misconfigurations are managed too.
White hats then report the issues to the organization, which are patched by their security team. White hats can then further reassess if the problems have been dealt with.
To practice ethical hacking, the white hats must be aware of the latest vulnerabilities and the tools to have in the repertoire. Due to this there is need for constant learning and updating of the knowledge.
Ethical hackers also bank on social engineering techniques to lure end users and obtain information about an organization’s computing environment. Like black hat hackers, our hackers dip into postings on social media or GitHub, bait employees in phishing attacks by email or wander around the premises to look for physical vulnerabilities.
There are certain protocols that need to be followed if one intends to stay legal. Like obtaining permissions to carry out penetration testing on servers or respecting data sensitivity or reporting all the vulnerabilities etc.
Becoming an Ethical Hacker
There isn’t a set method to becoming an ethical hacker. Nevertheless having a degree in computer science will probably make life a bit easier. It all boils down to passion, inquisitiveness or even coding or network administration expertise collected through normal office jobs. There are plenty of courses these days offering to teach the skill and award certificates.
Some of the desirable skills are expertise in scripting languages, in depth knowledge of networking, good proficiency in operating systems and also a solid footing in the principles of information security.
People who have been in computer security for many years will admit that no job is more challenging and fun than professional penetration testing. You not only get to do something exciting, but pen testers often are seen with an aura of uber coolness that comes from buddies knowing they could break into virtually any system at will. People get the exact same emotional thrill out of being paid to legally break into places as one would out of illegal hacking.