An Ethical Hacker performs to find vulnerabilities in the system and network to help make secure infrastructure. There are a variety of aspects that organizations have to concentrate on to improve their security posture, it can be very easy for some of these issues to slip right through their fingers.
For instance, if a business misses identifying vulnerability on its network, it risks an attack. In case the organization works with ethical hackers, it reduces the chances that the attack will result in a data breach. The good thing is that ethical hackers are in high demand in today’s chaotic cyber-security world.
Here is some information on ethical hacking and how to become one:
What Is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is a practice that involves legally breaking into the security systems of an organization. In turn, you get paid to identify vulnerabilities, and maybe offer solutions for them. It is also known as penetration testing. From the point of view of the penetration tester, everyone wins.
In case you identify vulnerability as the penetration tester, you give your clients the chance to patch the vulnerability before attackers can exploit it. If you fail to identify an issue, the organization can rest assured that the security measures they have in place are strong enough.
Ethical hacking offers organizations the opportunity to beef up their security from a proactive standpoint. In turn, they can avoid the adverse effects of having to go through an attack, from losing their data to the PR nightmares. Also, for some regulation, like the PCI DSS, ethical hacking is essential to becoming compliant.
The Role of Ethical Hackers
Creating A Scope And Setting Goals
Ethical hackers need to outline the scope and goals of the test before embarking on any project. This offers them a roadmap into everything they need to do. Here is some question you might need to answer as an ethical hacker:
- What will IT assets be within the scope of the test?
- Will the tests include automated vulnerability scanning?
- What is the time frame for the pen tests?
- Will social engineering be part of penetration testing?
- Will there be restrictions on the tests you will run?
- What is the policy of the organization when it comes to disrupting critical operations?
- What documents need to be submitted at the end of the test?
The scope and goals of the penetration tests can go well beyond these few questions- they are just meant to offer you an idea of the expectations. Ideally, you need to agree on the intricate details of the pen tests with the organization you are working for to increase their effectiveness.
Learning About The Target
The next step is to learn about the nitty-gritty details of the target to identifying any vulnerability that you can exploit. You can learn about the IP addresses, applications, OS platforms used by the firm, patch levels, version numbers, advertised network ports, and even users.
During this discovery face, it can be pretty easy to identify obvious attack areas. In case you fail to identify the obvious vulnerabilities, the information gathered during this stage can be crucial in future analyses and attack tries.
Breaking Into The Target
Successful ethical hacking break-ins are all about patience and being thorough. You have to take your time to discover the different attack vectors and exploitable areas. Even if an exploit doesn’t lead to the end goal, you can always use it to get deeper into a system. For instance, you can escalate privileges from a normal user account to gain access to more data. If the scope of the attack allows, you can always use automated vulnerability scanning software to identify other attack opportunities.
Documenting The Pen-Test Reports
The last stage is documenting your findings. You will need to include details about any vulnerability you identified. You can also offer solutions and insights into how the organization can avoid such vulnerabilities in the future.
Becoming An Ethical Hacker
The bare minimum for becoming an ethical hacker is receiving documented permission from the right people before venturing into breaking into an organization’s systems- it is essential to avoid breaking the law as an ethical hacker. While some hackers learn their ethical hacking skills through formal classes, others learn the skills on their own, with some using both methods. In most cases, taking an ethical hacking course is a great way to land a high paying job as a full-time penetration tester.
Even better, there are a variety of ethical hacking courses that you can take to improve your professionalism as a hacker. Sure, having an ethical hacking certificate is not a necessity for landing a great job, but it won’t hurt to have one. Being a certified ethical hacker show companies that you have at least learned and agreed to a particular code of ethics.
New vulnerabilities keep popping up on today’s security landscapes, meaning that ethical hackers will always have a place in the cyber-security landscape. As long as you gain the necessary skillset, it will be easy to make a living out of it. Consider taking up ethical hacking courses to get certified as an ethical hacker.