White Hat Hacker: The What, Why and How

As the old saying goes, “It takes a thief to catch a thief.” In other words, the person most likely to successfully catch a thief is someone who knows the miscreant’s tactics, mindset, and habits. Cyber-related crime is the new frontier for larceny. This an increasingly ominous notion, considering how our information is collected, processed, and stored online. Add to that the boom in mobile computing, and you have quite a dilemma on your hands.

That’s why the best defense against Black Hat hackers is a group of white hat hackers who use their hacking talents for defensive purposes. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about White Hat hackers, including how to become one, if you’re intrigued enough by the idea. Let us now begin with the White Hat Hacker definition.

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What Is a White Hat Hacker?

A White Hat hacker tests systems and networks by trying to break into them. They are hackers, but their talents are being used to improve Cyber Security. Being hackers, they are familiar with the tactics that malicious hackers use to compromise systems; White Hat hackers try to find the vulnerabilities before the bad guys do.

The most significant difference between Black Hat and White Hat hackers is that the latter is permitted by companies to try and break into their Cyber Security systems.

White Hat hackers are also called “Ethical Hackers” or “Certified Ethical Hackers.” In some instances, White Hat hackers assume other Cyber Security titles within an organization.

  • Cyber security analyst
  • Information security analyst
  • Intrusion detection analyst
  • IT security engineer
  • IT security administrator
  • Network security analyst
  • Penetration tester

Note that sometimes a White Hat hacker also ends up becoming responsible for not just the digital aspect of Cyber Security but for the hardware end of it was well. This responsibility potentially means that you would also be responsible for the integrity of hardware like keypad controls and badge readers. You may even need to educate fellow employees on Cyber Security tips relating to the handling, transportation, and storage of their devices such as laptops, phones, and pads.

Why Do We Need White Hat Hackers?

According to statista, there were 3.9 billion Internet users in 2018 and 4.3 billion Internet users so far this year. As impressive as that sounds, it’s eclipsed by predictions that the number of people online will triple from 2015 to 2022, hitting six billion users. As a result, these figures tell us that 90% of Earth’s population, aged six and older, will be online by 2030.

Furthermore, retail e-commerce sales hit $2.3 trillion and is projected to top $4.88 trillion by 2021. Also, projections indicate that mobile devices will be used to conduct almost three-fourths of all e-commerce transactions.

The statistics offer substantial evidence of our world’s continually escalating reliance on the Internet. Consequently, this rise in online use provides a rich field of opportunities for cyber-criminals to perpetrate everything from minor privacy violations to outright larceny and fraud.

The problem is already out there in a big way. Financial losses from cybercrime are expected to reach $6 trillion every year by 2021, a two-fold increase from 2015. At the same time, predictions further state that the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs will top 3.5 million by 2021, a significant boost over the one million vacant positions in 2014.

These sobering figures illustrate why there’s such a desperate need for White Hat hackers. More users mean more mobile usage, more networks, and more websites. E of these elements needs to be tested thoroughly, run through their paces to make sure that cyber-criminal hackers can’t penetrate their defenses. More testers are required to address this shortage.

By taking all of these elements and putting them together into one picture, we see a vast field of potential for up and coming Cyber Security professionals. IT professionals who are looking for a secure domain with a lot of possibilities for growth need to look into White Hat hackers jobs.

Even if you’re already working in an IT department and have no intention of running off to become an ethical hacker, it’s to your advantage to learn the tricks of the hackers’ trade. It’s always a smart idea to upskill whenever you have the opportunity, as it adds to your skill base and makes you a more valuable asset. Besides, if you do plan on moving on to green pastures at some point, it’s smart to bring a vast assortment of skills with you! It may be the crucial deciding factor in who gets that job!

This high demand is reflected in part by the kinds of salaries that a White Hat hacker can earn, as we’re about to see.

How Much Do White Hat Hackers Make?

aOne of the nifty things about being a White Hat hacker is that you get to tackle the challenge of breaking into a company’s system, and get paid to do it! How much pay, you ask? According to payscale, a certified ethical hacker earns an annual average of $90,000.

A White Hat hacker’s salary in India comes in at Rs 476,017 annually, whereas in Canada a CEH in similar circumstances can earn C$68,000. Australian White Hat hackers earn an annual average of AU$100K. Furthermore, White Hat hackers in the United Kingdom and South Africa can make a yearly average of £36,595 and R479,000, respectively.

If you want to earn a higher salary, it’s a good idea to specialize. However, it’s essential you have a good grasp of the overall concepts and practices of White Hat hacking first.

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How Can You Become a Certified White Hat Hacker?

If everything you’ve read so far as caught your interest, then you need to figure out how one goes about becoming a White Hat hacker. For starters, it’s essential to have some education in the field. It’s especially useful to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant area such as computer programming, computer science, information security, or information technology.

Keep in mind that not all companies have the same educational requirements. Some businesses will accept actual hands-on experience in place of a degree, provided it’s at least a couple of years, and it’s in an appropriate field. Don’t expect three years in the mailroom to be your ticket to White Hat hacking. If, on the other hand, you’ve spent a few years doing IT-related jobs, then you’re in good shape.

Next, you need specialized White Hat hacker training and White Hat hacker certification. Certification is crucial because it tells a prospective employer that you are proficient in the necessary skills and techniques needed to carry out your responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to choose from.

In addition to CEH certification training, which is also referred to as the White Hat hacking course in some circles, there are several additional security certifications that you should earn. In the fast-paced, competitive world of Cyber Security, the more you know, the better! The certifications include:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
  • Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) Master

Finally, if you haven’t already gained some on-the-job experience, you should do so. Nothing teaches as well as doing the task itself and learning from it. With all of these elements in place, you will be ready to strike out on your own as a capable White Hat hacker!

Presenting an Effective Method of Learning

If all of the certifications mentioned above seem intimidating, then relax, your worries are over. Fortunately, Simplilearn offers you a one-stop shopping experience where you can gain all of the necessary training and certifications you need to achieve your White Hat hacker goal!

For starters, there’s the CEH (v10) Certified Hacking Course. This course will train you on the advanced step-by-step methodologies that hackers use, including writing virus codes and reverse engineering, so you can better protect corporate infrastructure from data breaches. The course also helps you master advanced network packet analysis and advanced system penetration testing techniques, enabling you to build your network security skill-set and beat hackers at their own game. The course is available as either a corporate training solution or an online classroom Flexi-Pass for individuals.

Simplilearn also offers training courses in many of the Cyber Security assets mentioned earlier.

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is considered the gold standard in the domain of information security. This training is aligned with (ISC)² CBK 2018 requirements and will train you to become an information assurance professional who defines all aspects of IT security, including architecture, design, management, and controls. Most IT security positions require or prefer a CISSP certification, so this one’s crucial.

The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification cour is aligned with the latest 2019 edition of the CISA exam. It'll provide you the skillsets to govern and manage enterprise IT and perform an effective security audit on any organization. You will gain expertise in the acquisition, development, testing, and implementation of information systems and learn the guidelines, standards, and best practices for protecting them.

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) course is an essential certification for information security professionals who want to assess, design, manage, and oversee enterprise information security. This CISM course is closely aligned with ISACA best practices and teaches you how to define and design enterprise security architecture. You will also learn how to achieve IT compliance and governance while delivering reliable service to customers. Furthermore, the course teaches you how IT security systems can be used to achieve business goals and objectives. The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) training course is the leading certification by (ISC)² and will teach you to negate security threats to your cloud storage by understanding information security risks and strategies to maintain data security. Covering the six sections of the Official (ISC)² CCSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK®), this course will help you pass the exam obtaining your CCSP.

Follow the training paths, take the courses, and master the top strategies and tactics of White Hat hackers, so that you can be ready to launch into an exciting and rewarding new career!

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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