What is Hacking? A Complete Beginners Guide to Ethical Hacking
Whenever we talk about ‘hacking’, our mind compels us to think that the act is fraudulent or unethical. But here we are about to discuss ‘Ethical Hacking’. Quite confusing, right?
So, Ethical hacking is the process in which a professional who is authorized, bypasses the security of a system or a network. This act is done with the intention of identifying security loopholes in the system which can be easily exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized access to steal or change sensitive information, extort money and damage the integrity of the information systems.
These issues are then reported to the concerned authorities so that they can be worked upon to prevent malicious attacks.
Types of Hackers
Since we have already learnt that hackers can have different purposes, let’s now learn about the different types of hackers who are classified based on their intent of hacking.
White Hat Hackers:
They are ethical hackers who hack a system to find the vulnerabilities so that they can be improved before an attacker discovers it.
Black Hat Hackers:
Also known as crackers, they have malicious intentions. They get unauthorized access and hamper the normal operation of a system.
Grey Hat Hackers:
They are a mix of white and black hat hackers. They hack systems without the knowledge of the owners but their intention is to find and report the vulnerabilities and earn monetary rewards in return.
They target huge corporations and infrastructure and hack without fearing about the consequences of their deeds.
They hack websites in order to promote social, political and religious messages through them.
They are unskilled and use the codes, scripts and tools of skilled hackers to penetrate a system.
State Sponsored Hackers:
They are appointed by the government to ensure security of different systems.
Different Types of Hacking
Mentioned below are different categories of hacking based on what gets hacked or pirated.
Gaining unauthorized access over a webserver, its databases and other softwares related to it. This can be done by Phishing, DNS spoofing etc.
Collecting information about a network using tools like Telnet, NS Search, Ping, Netsat etc with a malicious intent of interfering in and hampering its normal operation.
Gaining control over an entire computer system by obtaining ID and password in an illegal manner by means of different hacking methods.
Gaining illegal access into an email account without the owner’s awareness and using it to send spam links, gather data and for other undesirable purposes.
Restoring confidential passwords that are stored in or transmitted by a computer system.
Bypassing system security to find vulnerabilities in an authorized manner so that they can be corrected to prevent malicious attacks.
Phases of Ethical Hacking
The phases of hacking are not exactly rules you are expected to follow. Rather, they are some guidelines which help you to carry out the hacking process better. Discussed below are the different phases of hacking.
Using tools like Google dorks, Nmap information about the target system is gathered in order to gain control over it. There are two types of reconnaissance.
Active: Here, the hacker directly interacts with the system.
Passive: Here, the hacker gathers information but does not interact with the system.
At this phase, the scanners examine the entire system to discover vulnerabilities. Since ethical hackers do not have malicious intentions , they don’t exploit the loopholes. This involves the use of tools like port scanners, net mappers etc.
Using the vulnerabilities found during scanning, hackers enter the target system. One of the most commonly used tools in this phase is Metasploit.
In this phase backdoors and payloads are installed as part of certain measures taken to retain the access in the system. This also paves way for easy return into the system.
The hacker clears all signs of malicious attacks. This happens even in ethical hacking to understand how an attacker could have executed it.
This is the additional step for ethical hackers only. A report is prepared on the identified vulnerabilities, the tools used, the rate of success and the approach made to exploit the system.
Recommended Programming Languages
Given below are some of the best programming languages for ethical hacking. Have a look at them.
- Python Programming Language
- SQL Programming Language
- C Programming Language
- Java script Programming Language
- PHP Programming Language
- C++ Programming Language
- Java Programming Language
Well-known Ethical Hacking Certifications
As discussed above certifications are important in your professional life as an ethical hacker as they showcase your expertise. Companies find it a good sign and you might easily get hired. For most of the certificates you have to qualify certain examinations. So let’s see what are the top certification provided in this field.
- CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)
- GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification)
- CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)
- OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional)
- CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
Different Ethical Hacking Jobs
Who isn’t worried about cyber security? With all activities getting transformed into the digital mode, it has become very essential to protect the systems and the vital information stored there. Taking this into account, we can say that almost every industry needs professionals to look into the security aspects.
If you are interested in ethical hacking, then try to get the CEH certification. This opens up a lot of doors for you. Below are some posts waiting for you just after you crack the CEH examinations
- Information Security Analyst
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Security Engineer
- Penetration Tester
- Security Analyst
- Information Security Manager
- Cyber Security Engineer
How to Become an Ethical Hacker?
Taking into consideration how important cyber security is, it is easy to understand that ethical hacking is a very lucrative profession and is in high demand. Depending on your skillset, experience and your expertise your income might vary but this field ensures you a very profitable professional journey.
We will now discuss everything you need to do in order to become an ethical hacker in a step by step process.
Strengthen Your Foundation:
Ethical hacking does not demand a particular degree or educational background. However, a bachelor’s degree in computer science will help you a lot in setting up a strong foundation.
Different companies set different criteria to employ hackers based on their requirements. So prepare yourself accordingly.
Programming languages form the grid on which your ethical hacking career will grow. They are extremely important. So learn the computing languages like C++, Java, Python, SQL, PHP.
Educating yourself about operating systems like Windows, Linux etc is crucial. These are the bare minimum required to step into the field of ethical hacking.
The next important step is to get certified. No matter whether you work in a company or as a freelancer or open a firm, being CEH certified remains equally essential as it proves your competence.
Getting certified from the EC council is highly recommendable. For that you need to get through four tests carrying 125 questions each.
Discover Your Niche:
Ethical hacking covers a lot of areas. So go through all the responsibilities that it involves. Find the most suitable one based on your expertise and liking. This will decide your job title and will assist you in easily getting a job.
Be on Your Toes:
Even after successfully landing on your dream job, you still have to continue learning and polishing your skills. Technology is evolving rapidly and new tools are getting developed.
So keep yourself updated on the latest trends in the hacking world. Else, you will find it difficult to grow in your career.
Skills Required to Become an Ethical Hacker
Ethical hacking demands great technical expertise and mastery in coding. He’s is a list of skills that you are expected to have in order to excel in this field. Knowledge on concepts of networking and computer appliances. Command over Software Development Lifecycle(SDLC).Thorough understanding of operating systems.
All round knowledge of penetration testing. Expertise in computing languages. Good written and verbal communication skills.
Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker:
Now let’s assume that you have become an ethical hacker. It’s obvious that you will have the burden of certain responsibilities on your shoulder. As discussed , different jobs can have different requirements but I have listed out some important ones which are common across to all.
- Talk to your clients regarding their current security system.
- Study the network structure and find out possible sites for penetration.
- Carry out multiple penetration tests on the system.
- Assemble the penetration test reports.
- Identify the security loopholes in the system.
- Identify the regions which have strong security.
- Analyze the security network and rate it.
- Suggest for security upgrades.
- After implementation of the new security features, conduct penetration tests again.
With The present generation becoming increasingly reliant on the internet, it is of utmost importance to protect the sensitive data stored online and the servers from theft. This need has brought with it an opportunity for technology geeks.
Ethical hackers are in great demand to ensure cyber security. If you too are a technology geek, then this might be something you would fall in love with. Hope this article has answered a lot of your queries. So start brushing up your skills and you might soon be chucking out vulnerabilities from a big organization’s IT system.