Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing fields in computer science. In the digital world, interconnected devices (IoT), and smartphones have become information powerhouses. Did you know, according to a Cisco report, 500 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2030? Cisco's Annual Visual Networking Index report also predicts an increase in the global IP traffic from 122 exabytes to 396 exabytes a month from 2017 to 2022—that’s an increase of more than 300 percent!
As more and more systems connect to cyberspace, they become vulnerable to attacks from all corners of the world. Every organization and business needs to protect its assets and data against any such attacks. This increased need unlocks many job prospects for computer engineers looking for jobs in a cutting-edge and fast-growing field of cybersecurity. Ethical hacking is an example of an excellent opportunity to improve the security of the network and systems, specifically by testing for such vulnerabilities.
Build your network security skill-set and beat hackers at their own game with the Certified Ethical Hacking Course. Check out the course preview now!
What Is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is the process of testing a system’s networks for vulnerabilities against any malicious threats, thefts, or attacks that may lead to financial loss or other damages to the system. In 2018, British Airways had to cough up £183.39 million ($230 million) in the aftermath of a data breach to resolve state investigations that affected 500,000 consumers. The damages transcend the financial loss as it compromises the brand and reputation of the organizations.
Ethical hacking uses similar methods that illegal hackers employ to infiltrate systems in a structured manner. The main difference is that the ethical hacker has all of the relevant permissions from the authorized personnel to try and break the system to improve the security from real attacks. Juniper Research data estimates cybercrime to cost businesses over $2 trillion in 2019. Moreover, extremist organizations also fund cybercriminals to compromise a nation’s security or extort massive data by injecting malware or spyware.
There are five stages of Ethical hacking:
ReconnaissanceFirst, an ethical hacker gathers information related to the target system. There are many footprinting tools available for hackers to use to scout search engines, web services, and social network sites, DNS, email, network, etc.
ScanningNext, ethical hackers gather more information about the network and devices, including open ports, protocols, services, hosts, and live servers.
Gaining AccessThis is the most critical step, where the ethical hacker will try to gain access to networks, hosts, devices, or applications based on the vulnerabilities identified in the scanning phase.
Maintaining AccessOnce a hacker gains access through a vulnerability, it’s not necessary for that vulnerability to persist, and an end-user might install patches. So, if a hacker intends to maintain access to the device regardless of the vulnerability, they might feel the need to install keyloggers, trojans, or spyware to maintain their access.
Clearing TracksThe final stage is to remove all traces of the hack and any programs (trojans, spyware) they may have installed. It is a Proof Of Concept (POC) to verify whether hackers can emulate the same scenarios and remain undetected.
Why Learn Ethical Hacking?
Let us look at some of the statistics regarding cyber threats and attacks:
- A Clark School study at the University of Maryland notes that a hacker attacks every 39 seconds on average. One in every three Americans is likely to become a target for Cyber Security threats.
- Cyber Security Ventures predicts the global spend on Cyber Security to increase to $1 trillion in 2020. At the same time, it also predicts that the cost of cybercrime will also rise to $6 trillion.
- In one of the EY Global Information surveys on information security, only 38 percent of global organizations state that they’re prepared to handle a sophisticated cyber-attack.
- Major organizations like Facebook have a bounty program that rewards anyone who identifies security vulnerabilities or flaws within any of their platforms. People who identify and report threats without causing any harm to their platforms with a genuine intention to improve their platforms are rewarded generously. Newbies generally use these programs to earn money and ramp up their resume for the experience.
By learning ethical hacking, you can play a vital role in securing the systems and data from threats and attacks. As an ethical hacker, you can:
- Conduct investigations and analyses of the target systems to identify any security or system vulnerabilities from the hacker’s point of view and suggest a remedy
- Help implement a state-of-the-art network that can withstand security breaches
- Help government agencies in safeguarding a nation’s infrastructure from extremists
- Protect consumer data and information by implementing best in class security practices, thereby maintaining trust and confidence
- Do a controlled assessment on enterprise networks and systems by mimicking a real-time attack; identify and report flaws to better prepare for impending malicious hacker attacks
Who Is an Ethical Hacker?
An ethical or “white-hat” hacker is an information security expert who helps identify vulnerabilities and security flaws in the target system by breaking the system legally and ethically. They identify and report such threats so that organizations or government agencies can take precautionary steps to prevent any damage to the data or the network.
There are three types of hackers:
White Hat Hackers
These are ethical hackers who identify security flaws, software and hardware vulnerabilities, and operational inefficiencies. They first gain permission from the organization’s authorized personnel before doing the exercise legally.
Black Hat Hackers
These are cyber criminals who gain access to a system without any authorization and steal or compromise an enterprise’s data to gain monetary benefits, commit fraud, or cause mischief. Remember the WannaCry ransomware, which cost the world a loss of $4 billion (USD)? It infected thousands of Windows computers in 2017 by encrypting user’s data and demanding a ransom in the form of bitcoin.
Grey Hat Hackers
These hackers perform both white hat and black hat activities. They break into organizations without authorization and usually have malicious intent. However, grey hats can also take contracts to help organizations upgrade their security. In essence, they work on both sides of the street.
Ethical Hacking Skills and Tactics
Ethical hackers also rely on social engineering techniques to obtain a user’s information or information related to an organization. Ethical hackers (just like black hat hackers) skim through multimedia messages, social media networks, users’ public accounts like Facebook, Twitter, GitHub, etc. to engage the users in a phishing attack and gain entry to the network through the target system’s vulnerabilities.
Programming skills greatly help ethical hackers in automating specific manual tasks and can assist in identifying any loopholes in the target platform or environment. Besides programming skills, ethical hackers should also possess search engine knowledge and the basics of the Linux operating system and its commands. Networking skills, along with application security skills, will also help ethical hackers go a long way in developing the hacking skill sets.
Career Benefits of Ethical Hacking
The presence of new malware, spyware, ransomware, trojans, and worms grows every day. As a result, hiring ethical hackers has become paramount in safeguarding the networks and systems of businesses and government agencies. This, in turn, has contributed to the ongoing shortage of cybersecurity professionals to fill vacancies. Security magazine notes that there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs unfilled by 2021.
The U.S labor department (below table) shows the median salary of an information security analyst (an ethical hacker) close to $100K per year when compared to a computer programmer whose median pay is around $84K. The job outlook for the information or cybersecurity analysis is promising and growing at a rapid rate of 28 percent compared to an average of 7 percent. Compensation for senior roles in cybersecurity, such as a chief information security officer, can reach a whopping $400,000 per year.
It is easy to see why the ethical hacking professional is in high demand. OneCisco report shows that 29 percent of organizations lost revenue due to a security breach. According to Forrester Research, 95 percent of breached records in 2016 came from three sectors: government, retail, and technology. Indeed lists around 800+ active listings for ethical hackers with salaries starting from $70K going up to $120K.
Simplilearn’s Certified Ethical Hacker Course will train you on the advanced practices that hackers use, so you can better protect any network and systems from data breaches and threats. This certified ethical hacking course will help you master the advanced network packet analysis, reverse engineering, and system penetration testing techniques to build your network security skill-set. You will gain a deeper understanding of the hacker’s mentality and mindset and avoid the attacks or at least minimize the damages to an organization or government agencies’ data.
Simplilearn has an excellent learning pedigree with its Certified Ethical Hacking course, including 40 hours of instructor learning sessions, study material kit by EC council, and six months free access to CEH v10 lab for you to practice the techniques. It also provides lifetime access to high quality, self-paced e-learning content, and live classroom recordings.
Start Your Career as an Ethical Hacker Today
The ethical hacking profession is gaining momentum rapidly as enterprises are increasing the spend in combating cyber security threats. If you’re passionate about cyber security, the certified ethical course is the right track for you. The theory and the hands-on knowledge that you gain from the Simplilearn’s Certified Ethical Hacker curriculum can set you on the right path, with the right knowledge and mindset to become an information security analyst or cyber security expert.
So what are you still waiting for? Go ahead, enroll in Simplilearn’s Certified Ethical Hacking Course, and become future-ready.