A Comprehensive Guide to Ethical Hacking

by | Aug 26, 2019 | Ethical Hacking

10 Min Read. |

In January 2019 almost 1,769, 185,063 sensitive user records were leaked that made way into the hands of ethical hacking.

Sophisticated ethical hacking attacks stole records ranging from user ids/passwords of 772 million users to CVs of 202 million Chinese users.

Ever wondered how this affect our society?

Identity theft, Denial of services, overnight business shutdowns, money laundering, extortions and what not is fueled by such hacks.

Going by the Oxford dictionary latest edition a hacker is “a person who is skilled in the use of computer systems, often the one who illegally obtains access to private computer systems.”

The simple truth is that when the term was coined it did not have so much of negativity tagged to it.

In the 1990s a hacker was a person who would solve the problems of some security-wise unsatisfactory system by trying to break through it, identifying the weak spot and fixing it. This is what we know as ethical hacking today.

Unfortunately, some of the hackers got greedy and used their skills to access sensitive files and networks and these were called crackers.

A cracker is required to have good hacking skills so today someone who tries to sabotage the security of any network without legal permission is a hacker.

The technical definition of hacking and details of Hacker Tools.

Activities of a skilled programmer who is capable of modifying computer hardware or software to use it in a way for which it was not developed.

Hacking is typically a technical territory where malware and ransomware directed attacks are executed. These attacks compromise the security aspects of the networks, computers, smartphones or any kind of digital device.

The cybercriminal initiated hacking attacks are motivated by financial gain, stealing information that can be misused and many other malicious intents.

Here is a brief about hacking costs to countries

Cost of Hacking

Cost of Hacking Source – Heimdal Security

Hacking Tools

The hackers have been running havoc with the public, government, and private enterprise networks. Using social engineering attacks and malvertising, a number of other sophisticated attacks are being executed today to hack the systems and that is fueling the $2 Trillion hacking industry.

The different kind of hacking tools being used are:

⇒ Denial of service (DDoS) attacks

⇒ Botnet attacks

⇒ Ransomware attacks

⇒ Viruses attacks

⇒ Worms

⇒ Browser hijacks

⇒ Rootkits

⇒ Trojans

A subset of hackers exists who duplicate the attempts of the malicious hacker to break into a computer network or device but the intent is good.

Known as ethical hacking, this is a combat mechanism public and private bodies have established to conduct penetration testing of their network so that no outsider gains access to their systems.

For what it’s worth, The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts, the jobs for information security analysts which is inclusive of ethical hackers are expected to rise up by 28% from 2016 to 2026.

What is Ethical Hacking & How to Learn Ethical Hacking?

An ethical hacker is an appointment by an authority who has permission to attack the cybersecurity layers of an organization. This is a defence mechanism against the actual hackers who try to gain access to the insider data or network layers.

With a responsibility to detect and plug the vulnerabilities of the network an ethical hacking professional tries to gain access to the system the way an outsider would do. It is also the responsibility of the ethical hacker to identify whether the attack tracks can be covered or not.

The information they collect while trying to attack a system is analyzed to establish ways by which the system, application or network security can be fortified.

By employing an ethical hacker, security footprint is improved so that the outsider attacks can be circumvented. From an umbrella perspective as an ethical hacking professional, one is required to look at:

⇒ Injection attacks

The SQL injection is one of the most common types of attack

SQL Injection

SQL Injection Source – Veracode

⇒ Security setting alteration

⇒ Sensitive data exposure

⇒ Authentication protocols breaches

Job Prospects for People who Learn Ethical Hacking

Willis Towers Watson, a leading risk management organization, the bigger organizations are spending 1.7% of their yearly revenue on fortifying the cybersecurity aspects. But 96% of their board members believe it is not enough as the cybersecurity threats are turning sophisticated.

Some years back the ethical hackers had few job openings and that tool primarily in the public sector. As enterprises have recognized the growing impact of ethical hacking professionals in maintaining the security of the networks, they are getting more interested in knowing what is ethical hacking.

Thus more job openings and better-paying profiles are being offered to the experts.

According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cybersecurity jobs openings have shot up by 75% from 2012 to 2017.

Going by the salary data shared by Payscale, the average yearly income of a Certified an ethical hacker is somewhere around $80,074, according to Payscale wherein the average starting salary is $95,000.

From a conservative approach, the salary across the experience levels ranges from $50,000 to $100,000 per year and with few more years of experience can go up to $120,000 and more.

Once you have established you want to be an ethical hacker, how to learn ethical hacking is the next step.

Fastest Growing IT Careers

Fastest Growing IT Careers

If you have been thinking that the only job profile open for an ethical hacker is a penetration tester, you may not be right. A Certified ethical hacker can secure himself the below job profiles:

⇒ Information Security Analyst

⇒ Security Analyst

⇒ Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

⇒ Ethical Hacker

⇒ Security Consultant

⇒ Information Security Manager

⇒ Penetration Tester

Apart from government bodies, the job opportunities for Ethical hacking professional or people who learn ethical hacking is spread across Financial Institutions, IT and ITES companies, online businesses and organizations, Consultancies, Government, Diplomatic setups, Security installations, Security agencies, Defense organizations, Telecommunication the sector, Immigration services, Aviation industry, Hotels and Forensic Laboratories.

How to learn ethical hacking and what skills are required for being an ethical hacking professional?

The job of an ethical hacker is to replicate or recreate the attack by a black hat hacker. In the due course, he is required to analyze the defence protocols, security vulnerabilities and social-engineering aspects of an organization.

According to his job description, he required to make sure the organization’s security walls are secure enough and they are ready to handle any such attacks.

Skills of Ethical Hacker

Skills of Ethical Hacker Source – Gadget Pedia

An ethical hacker must be proficient in the programming languages like C, C++, Python, Ruby, and Perl. He must have a strong understanding of web applications like Microsoft, NET and PHP and must have a hands-on experience of operating systems like Windows and Linux. At a more experienced level, the hacker must have knowledge of TCP/IP protocols such as SMTP, ICMP, and HTTP.

A person holding ethical hacking experience or is eager to learn ethical hacking must be proficient in database handling and networking and apart from that, he must have a good command over soft skills and written communication.

Some of the basic technical skills an ethical hacker must learn or possess are:

⇒ Network traffic sniffing

⇒ Orchestrate various network attacks

⇒ Exploit buffer overflow vulnerabilities

⇒ SQL injection

⇒ Password guessing and cracking

⇒ Session hijacking and spoofing

⇒ DNS spoofing

He must have problem-solving skills, analytical and logical thinking and must promise to work with integrity.

Technical Job responsibilities of an ethical hacker vary according to the process phase he is involved in. The process cycle involves reconnaissance, scanning, and gaining access, maintaining access, clearing tracks and reporting. At different levels, he may be required to

⇒ Work on Reconnaissance tools like Nessus and NMAP to scan open and closed port.

⇒ Understanding and developing social engineering methodologies.

⇒ Conducting vigorous vulnerability analysis.

⇒ Penetrate the Intrusion Detection systems, Intrusion Prevention Systems, and firewalls.

Explore more about the ethical hacking tools from this video

How to Learn Ethical Hacking?

An ethical hacker is required to hold a bachelor’s degree from computer science, information technology or a certified diploma in network security.

Although nowadays other degree options that allow you to apply for the ethical hacker job positions are Electrical and Electronics engineering.

Mostly the hackers are being misunderstood in the community today so it becomes very important to grab a job to establish yourself as an ethical hacker.

It is important to have studied programming as a part of your degree curriculum. A hacker must have knowledge of many programming languages as he is required to break into the security systems. As an ethical hacker, one must know as many trending languages as possible.

One may choose to join a course or self-learn the different aspects of an ethical hacker’s profile.

Ethical Hacking Steps

Ethical Hacking

Ethical Hacking Source – Know The Trade

If you are a computer science graduate, you may have already have covered some of the programming languages in your curriculum. The role of an ethical hacking professional requires you to have a good knowledge of languages like C, C++, and Java.

Most of the operating systems, libraries and frameworks are developed in C programming language thus it becomes a prerequisite. It is must to have skill for a penetration tester.

What is ethical hacking and what is a professional ethical hacked required to do? He injects code using the SQL injection technique into the database to identify the system vulnerabilities.

Overtime more versatile programming languages have been introduced into the ecosystem, some particular roles may require you to learn Python.

Python is an English like language and is easy to pick. Popular as a scripting language it is being used to develop programs where repetitive tasks need to be automated. It is gaining massive popularity for malware analysis and gives ethical hackers an edge over others.

If you are not from a computer science background and want to build a career in cybersecurity or as an ethical hacker, it is a must for you to be proficient in some of these languages to give you an advantage.

Apart from knowing programming languages, it is advisable to go for a credible certification of how to learn ethical hacking professional training course.

If you are a working professional, you can opt for a certified ethical hacking online course over weekends to expedite your market penetration.

Ethical Hacking Job Opportunity

Enterprises have become aware of the fact that they need to keep a strong vigil on their online security aspects. With the increasing acknowledgement from the leaders, the demand for proficient cybersecurity experts is increasing incessantly.

Some of the well-paid jobs are that of a cybersecurity expert and the ethical hacking professionals are a subset of this profile.

As per the data shared by industry expert Palo Alto Network, the job positions for cybersecurity professionals will surpass 6 million by 2019 all across the globe. Another leading market expert Cybersecurity Ventures speculates around 3.5 million cybersecurity job positions across the globe will be unfilled as there still exists a skill gap in the market.

The job opportunities for ethical hacking professionals has been growing aggressively across financial institutions like banks that are always under the radar of cyberattacks. As these institutions suffer financially as well as reputational losses, they are taking help of ethical hackers to maintain the security of their customers.

With the penetration of internet in our lives the wireless networks at public places offering a breeding place for the black hat hackers. Thus these places have been calling for ethical hackers to keep a watch on the soft spots from where hackers could entry the network and get access to the sensitive data of the clueless public.

So even the hotels, airports, cinema halls and more such public spaces are onboarding ethical hackers to safeguard the networks.

Conclusion

Last but not the least IT companies and business enterprises are aggressively utilizing the skills of ethical hacking professionals to prevent customer portals and networks from the malicious attacks. It quite evident that the cybersecurity space has lots of job opportunities and this is the right time to overcome the skill gap.

If you are an aspiring ethical hacker, grab the opportunity to start your career in Ethical Hacking, here is a list of top Ethical Hacking Interview Questions that will help you to crack your next interview.

If you are also inspired by the ethical hacking opportunity, take up the Cyber Security Course and elevate your career.

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