For as long as the internet has been around, network security has always been an issue. In the last few decades, there has been an explosion of interest in ethical hacking. Whereas traditional hackers exploit networks for malicious reasons, ethical hackers work on the side of the 'good guys’ to protect computer systems from dangerous intrusions.
Basically, ethical hacking is the process of penetrating or intruding in a computer system for the purpose of security testing. Ethical hackers are mostly hired by companies to conduct penetration testing. Such hackers are experts in computer security, as they play a very important part in ensuring a company’s IT system security. If you want to become a paid ethical hacker, you need to be knowledgeable in social engineering techniques. You also need to have the necessary skills to identify the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of IT systems so that necessary measures may be taken to properly secure them.
Ethical hackers must explore different hacking methods to check if a company’s IT system can be penetrated using different methods. Basically, their job is to mimic the actions of a hacker and exhaust all possible hacking options to prevent illegal hacking. A career in ethical hacking can be very rewarding and profitable, as hackers are usually paid a lot of money. However, before you can become an ethical hacker, you must have the necessary experience, knowledge and skills in networking and programming. You also need to have a good grasp of all available operating systems so that you can properly anticipate different hacking methods. Before you decide to become an ethical hacker you need to know the different types of hackers. This way, you will be able to make an informed decision on what type of ethical hacker you want to be.
Types of Ethical hackers
Hacktivism is the process of hacking into a computer system illegally for political or social reasons. The hackers can leave a large message on the main page of the website or even disrupt the traffic to that website. Some people use this as a form of protest.
This is another gray area of ethical hacking. Cyberwarriors are computer experts and hackers who participate in cyber warfare. Basically, these are actions undertaken by a nation or state to infiltrate another country’s networks or computers to cause disruption. Whether or not this type of hacking is ethical is all in the eye of the beholder.
3. Black Box Penetration testers
This is a hacker who is hired by a company or an individual to infiltrate a computer network or system. This hacker acts as a malicious hacker, trying to find vulnerabilities in a network that would allow him to attack it. Such a hacker has no prior knowledge of the network he/she is trying to infiltrate. By spotting vulnerabilities, he can advise the individual or company about what is needed to strengthen the website from future hacking.
4. White box penetration testers
This type of hacker is hired by an individual or a company to break into a network or system. This hacker is just like the black box hacker since they are both legally breaking into a system in an effort to help the company that hired them. The only difference between the two is that the white box hackers are given complete knowledge of the network they are infiltrating. Basically, the hacker simulates an attack from an insider of the organization.
5. Licensed penetration tester
This hacker performs the duties of black and white box penetration testers. Such hackers look for vulnerabilities and weaknesses in networks and systems.
All the aforementioned ethical hackers must be re-certified every 3 years.
How to Become a Paid Ethical Hacker?
1. Evaluate your skills
Start by evaluating your skills. The best internet security specialists have a natural passion for technology and computers. Such people also have good quantitative skills and are good at problem solving. A prospective student with these interest and aptitudes is a good candidate for an ethical hacking course.
2. Find a good school
If you want to become a paid ethical hacker, then a course that is related to cyber security and IT is a prerequisite. You also need to have knowledge of all the software and hardware involved in illegal hacking. All this can be learnt in a good college. Internet security programs are now worldwide, just look for a good school where you can learn all the necessary skills in ethical hacking.
3. Learn hacking skills
Since ethical hacking takes a lot of skills, necessary training and experience are extremely important before you can become a licensed ethical hacker. Ethical hacker courses cover different topics such as hacking laws, hacking wireless networks, viruses and worms and phishing. Students also learn about the techniques hackers use to circumvent firewalls and password protection. The students will need to be exposed to real-life scenarios and threats. This provides them with an opportunity to utilize tools that are used by hackers, in order to understand how to thwart the illegal use of those tools.
4. Get certification
Once you gain the right skills and experience, get a license to become a certified ethical hacker.
Ethical Hacking Certification
Students who complete an ethical hacking course are qualified to take a Certified Ethical Hacker exam offered by the EC Council. The EC Council is the provider of certified ethical hacker training. If a person doesn’t want to take a course in ethical hacking but still wants to become a certified ethical worker, he/she must provide proof of eligibility. This may include at least 2 years of verified information security work experience. The candidate must score at least 70 % to pass. This test covers topics such as hacking techniques and technology.
Careers for Certified Ethical Hackers
Certified ethical hackers can provide their services as consultants. The rates can range between $15,000 and 45, 000 per assignment.
It takes a certain degree of trust before you can be hired as an ethical hacker. This is because as a hacker, you will be able to enter confidential systems that contain hundreds or thousands of vital information. Therefore, apart from getting all the necessary skills and certification, make sure you earn this trust.