Ethical hacking and ethical hacker are terms used to describe hacking performed by a company or individual to help identify potential threats on a computer or network. An ethical hacker attempts to bypass system security and search for any weak points that could be exploited by malicious hackers. This information is then used by the organization to improve the system security, in an effort to minimize or eliminate any potential attacks.
What constitutes ethical hacking?
For hacking to be deemed ethical, the hacker must obey the following rules:
The term “ethical hacker” has received criticism at times from people who say that there is no such thing as an “ethical” hacker. Hacking is hacking, no matter how you look at it and those who do the hacking are commonly referred to as computer criminals or cyber criminals. However, the work that ethical hackers do for organizations has helped improve system security and can be said to be quite effective and successful. Individuals interested in becoming an ethical hacker can work towards a certification to become a Certified Ethical Hacker, or CEH. This certification is provided by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). The exam itself costs about $500 to take and consists of 125 multiple-choice questions in version 8 of the test (version 7 consisted of 150 multiple-choice questions).
Role of an Ethical Hacker – What exactly does an Ethical Hacker do?
As serious security professionals, we almost give “similar security talk” to other business teams in our organization regarding anti-virus definitions, VPNs, encryption, mobile security, social media security, hacking, and so on. But when these security measures are not taken seriously, they fall apart.
This is when vulnerabilities set in and malicious elements seize the opportunity to penetrate the system.
Where are they employed?
While the concept of “white hat hacking” is not entirely new, the profession of ethical hacking is growing by leaps and bounds since major corporations like Facebook and Apple, as well as law enforcement agencies are employing “white hat hackers” to seek vulnerabilities and seal them. Every organization has a bug bounty program that rewards those who can find security vulnerabilities.
Who should be an ethical hacker?
As with any profession, passion for the profession is one of the key aspects to success. This, combined with a good knowledge of networking and programming, will help a professional succeed in the ethical hacking field.
What do ethical hackers do?
Apart from the regular pen tester duties, ethical hackers are associated with other responsibilities. The main idea is to replicate a “real hacker” at work and instead of exploiting the vulnerabilities for malicious purposes, seek countermeasures to seal it. A real hacker might employ all or some of these strategies to penetrate a system:
– Scanning ports and seeking vulnerabilities: An ethical hacker uses port scanning tools like Nmap, Nessus to scan one’s own systems and find open ports. The vulnerabilities with each of the ports can be studied and remedial measures can be taken.
While some may argue that there is no such thing as a “good hacker” and all “white hat hackers” are actually bad hackers who have turned good, the profession is here to stay.