Cyber attacks are on the rise, with statistics showing that there was a whopping 460 percent increase in such attacks from 2019 to 2022. This increase is likely due to a number of reasons, including an increase in hacking tools and methods being available online, as well as an increase in cybercrime awareness and reporting rates.
However, while cyberattacks are on the rise, there is also a growing trend of individuals choosing to become ethical hackers in order to protect businesses and networks. There has been an increase of 48% in the number of people enrolling for ethical hacking courses in 2022.
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is a process that helps organizations identify and fix vulnerabilities in their systems. It is also known as security auditing, penetration testing or network assessment. The most common use of ethical hacking is to find vulnerabilities in systems so that they can be patched. However, there are other uses for ethical hacking, such as determining whether a system is vulnerable to attack or detecting insider threats.
Who are ethical hackers?
Ethical hackers are a group of computer security professionals who use their skills to find and exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems. They work for organizations that need to protect their information and networks from attackers, or to investigate potential data breaches.
There are many different types of ethical hacking, but they all share some common goals. For example, ethical hackers want to identify security risks and vulnerabilities in systems so that they can be fixed. They also want to deter attackers from exploiting any vulnerabilities they find.
According to recent reports cybercrime costs the Indian economy $6 billion annually. The report also mentions that while attacks on small businesses are on the rise, attacks on larger companies are also becoming more common. Thus, it is clear that Ethical hacking will soon become a major part of the IT sector.
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3 Main Types Of Ethical Hacking
White Hat Hackers: White hat hacking is a term used to describe hacking that is done with the intent of helping a company, individual, or government instead of harming them. It typically refers to ethical hacking, which is the practice of testing the security of a computer system or network in order to identify and mitigate security vulnerabilities. The roots of white hat hacking can be traced back to the early days of computing, when hackers would break into systems in order to find and fix bugs.
Black Hat Hackers: Black hat hacking is a type of hacking that involves breaking into computer systems and networks with the intention of causing harm or theft. Black hat hackers sometimes use illegal methods, such as gaining unauthorized access to sensitive data or systems, or launching sophisticated attacks against unsuspecting victims. Black hat hackers can be quite dangerous, as they often target vulnerable systems and networks with malicious intent.
Gray Hat Hackers: Gray hat hacking is a term used to describe hacking that falls in between the black hat and white hat categories. It is often used to refer to ethical hacking, which is the practice of testing a network or system for vulnerabilities in order to find and fix them before an attack can occur. Gray hat hacking is different from black hat hacking because it is not performed with the intention of causing harm, but instead for the purpose of improving security or finding flaws.
Responsibilities of an ethical hacker
The duties and responsibilities of an ethical hacker are extensive and varied. The following are some of the typical duties that go under an ethical hacker's job description:
- Construct scripts for risk assessment and penetration testing, so as to test the system and network for any weaknesses
- Deal with online frauds on both the corporate and individual levels
- Prevent sniffer networks, hacked wireless encryptions, hijacked web applications and servers
- Manage online frauds on both the organizational and individual levels
- Breach intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, and firewalls in order to guarantee that no hostile actions will take place.
- Maintain control over sensitive information and to address any breaches that may occur.
- Build low-level tools for the purpose of increasing security monitoring and evaluation
- Compile comprehensive reports of the most recent security discoveries and distribute them to all of the multifunctional teams.
- Conduct risk assessments across all of the organization's hardware and software systems that are connected to the network
- Document and put into effect appropriate security policies and procedures for digital protection.
Skills Needed To Become An Ethical Hacker
In-Depth Knowledge Of Programming Languages
With the rise in cybercrime, it's more important than ever to have well-rounded programming skills when entering the ethical hacker field. Whether you're looking to break into systems for fun or for a career, becoming adept at coding is essential. Here are 3 programming languages that are commonly used in ethical hacking:
Python is a widely used language for data analysis and machine learning. It's easy to learn, making it perfect for beginners, and its syntax is relatively easy to understand. Additionally, Python has a large community of developers, which makes finding help when you need it easy.
Ruby is known for its simplicity and readability. Its syntax is also relatively easy to understand and its libraries are plentiful, so you can build powerful applications quickly. Additionally, Ruby has a vibrant community of developers who can help you with your projects.
C++ is a powerful language used for developing software systems and applications. It has been used in many high-profile projects, making it an industry-standard language. However, C++ can be challenging to learn for beginners, so be prepared to devote some time to learning this programming language.
Skills in networking are among the most important ones to have if you want to become an ethical hacker. A computer network is the connectivity of several devices, which are collectively referred to as hosts, and is composed of various pathways via which data or media can be sent or received.
Networking skills for hacking include knowing networks like Supernetting, DHCP, Subnetting, etc. When it comes to ethical hacking, having understanding of networks is helpful since it allows one to investigate the many interconnected computers that make up a network and the possible security risks that this creates. If an ethical hacker is also skilled in networking, then they will be able to address the dangers appropriately.
By being familiar with network models, internet protocols, and IP addresses, you may get the abilities necessary to become an ethical hacker and have success as a hacker. In addition to that, you should be knowledgeable with things like routers, servers, clients, transmission media, access points, shared data, and network interface card, among other things.
Linux is an operating system that is both free and open-source, and it is based on the Linux Kernel. Under the terms of the GNU General Public License, the Linux source code can be altered and redistributed to anybody, whether for business or non-commercial purposes. Learning Linux is important for ethical hackers to do mostly because of how secure it is.
Linux is far superior to other operating systems in terms of its level of safety. In addition, it is not necessary to use any kind of anti-virus software. Therefore, having knowledge of Linux is absolutely necessary for hacking.
A knowledge of cryptography is yet another area in which an ethical hacker should be adept. Cryptography is the study of, and practice of employing methods for, the secure communication in the presence of untrusted third parties known as adversaries.
It is concerned with the process of developing and analyzing protocols, with the goal of preventing hostile third parties from exchanging information between two entities. During the course of a cryptographic transmission, a regular text or message known as plain text is converted into an unreadable form known as ciphertext.
This process is known as "translation." An ethical hacker's responsibility is to guarantee that there is no communication leakage within an organization's many different units.
Ethical hackers need to be proficient in database management in addition to their other essential skill sets. Database Management Systems, sometimes abbreviated as DBMS, refer to the process of creating and managing all databases.
Database management systems like Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle are extremely valuable; yet, security flaws in these systems have recently risen to the forefront due to their prevalence. Because accessing a database in which all of the data is kept puts the company at a significant risk, it is vital to verify that this application is not susceptible to being hacked.
An ethical hacker has to have a solid understanding of the Database, as well as the many different database engines and data schemes, so that they can assist the organization in developing a strong DBMS.
Problem solving skills are essential for anyone aspiring to become an ethical hacker. A problem solving mindset is critical for success as a hacker, as it allows you to look at a problem from a variety of angles and come up with creative solutions.
However, if you find that you struggle to solve problems effectively, don’t despair – there are plenty of resources available to help you improve your problem solving skills. Online courses and bootcamps are a great way to learn how to use different software ethical hacking tools and techniques, and mentors can also be an invaluable source of support.
With the right approach,problem solving skills can be easily improved so that you can become an ethical hacker capable of tackling any challenge.
Common Ethical Hacking Projects
Threat modeling, security assessments, vulnerability threat assessments (VTA), and report writing are examples of typical work responsibilities for an ethical hacker. The tasks of this position will differ from firm to company, but the job description will almost always include these elements.
Threat modeling is a technique used to enhance network security by detecting vulnerabilities and then designing countermeasures to avoid an attack or reduce its impact. In the context of threat modeling, a threat is a possible or real unfavorable occurrence that might be purposeful (such as a denial-of-service attack) or accidental (such as the failure of computer hardware) and that could damage the enterprise's assets.
An ethical hacker would contribute to this procedure by offering a thorough perspective of potential harmful assaults and their repercussions on the company. Effective threat modeling aims to determine where the greatest emphasis should be placed to make a system safe. This is subject to change when new information and situations emerge, apps are added, withdrawn, or enhanced, and user expectations evolve.
Threat modeling is an iterative process that involves defining assets, identifying what each application does in relation to these assets, creating a security profile for each application, identifying potential threats, prioritizing potential threats, and documenting adverse events and the actions taken in each case.
The importance of the ethical hacker's role lies in the fact that it enables threat modeling to stay theoretical rather than post-mortem following an actual assault.
An ethical hacker, such as a pentester or red team leader (in-house offensive security), is frequently tasked with doing a security audit. Simply described, an information security assessment is a risk-based appraisal of a system or enterprise's security system.
Security assessments are periodic exercises that examine the security preparedness of an organization. They include tests for IT system and business process vulnerabilities, as well as recommendations for reducing the risk of future attacks.
Security evaluations are also effective for measuring the degree of adherence to security-related rules. They strengthen rules intended to avoid social engineering and can highlight the need for extra or improved security training. The security assessment, which culminates in a report that detects gaps and provides suggestions, is a useful risk management tool.
Vulnerability threat evaluation
A vulnerability threat assessment identifies, quantifies, and ranks the vulnerabilities pertinent to a system, as well as the threats that might potentially exploit those flaws. The VTA, which is closely tied to a security assessment, identifies and correlates particular risks and vulnerabilities.
The above-described basic security assessment is used to detect vulnerabilities and evaluate the enterprise's security posture irrespective of a specific threat. The VTA is a threat-based evaluation.
Information technology systems, energy production systems, transportation systems, and communication systems are some examples of systems for which vulnerability threat assessments should be undertaken. Such evaluations may be undertaken for a variety of organizations, ranging from tiny firms to big regional or national infrastructure institutions. Each of these system types and/or organizations will require an ethical hacker to do the VTA.
The ability to create clear and concise professional reports is essential for ethical hacker to successfully complete their tasks. If the proper information cannot be communicated to risk management executives, gathering data, finding vulnerabilities, and connecting threats are of limited use.
Red team reports are frequently the basis for large security resource investments. Professionals in risk management must have complete faith in the conclusions of ethical hackers within their firm. In certain instances, a company will hire an ethical hacker as an external consultant to give the knowledge required to justify security expenditures to top management or the board of directors. The report is the fundamental deliverable in the realm of security consulting.
When examining prospective professional certifications and training possibilities to advance a career in ethical hacking, the relevance of business writing skills should not be underestimated. The ability to generate a well-written report will provide a person with a professional advantage over a similarly qualified colleague.