What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is the practice of using hacking techniques to test the security of a computer system or network. Ethical hackers try to find ways to break into a system in order to find security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious hackers. Ethical hacking is also known as penetration testing , white hat hacking, or security testing. Unlike malicious hackers, the ethical hackers do not attempt to gain unauthorized access to systems or data.
Instead, their goal is to help organizations improve their security by finding and fixing potential security risks. Ethical hacking can be used to test the security of any computer system, from individual networks to large-scale enterprise systems.
Ethical hackers use a variety of tools and techniques to find security vulnerabilities, including port scanning, web application attacks, and database attacks. By finding and fixing these vulnerabilities before they can be exploited, ethical hackers can help organizations strengthen their defenses against malicious attacks.
Who is an Ethical Hacker?
Ethical hackers are information security experts who use their ethical hacking skills to protect computer networks and systems from cyber attacks . Unlike criminal hackers, ethical hackers have permission to test systems for vulnerabilities and weaknesses. They do this by simulating real-world attacks, using the same methods and tools as criminal hackers.
Ethical hacking is an important part of keeping systems secure, as it helps to identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious actors. Ethical hackers typically have a strong understanding of computer networking, cryptography, and programming. Many ethical hackers also hold certifications such as the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential.
CEH is a globally acclaimed certification that validates an individual’s skills in ethical hacking. To earn the Certified Ethical Hacker credential, candidates must pass a rigorous exam that covers topics such as footprinting and reconnaissance, scanning and enumeration, social engineering, denial-of-service attacks, and session hijacking. The CEH exam is designed to test the ability of candidates to find and exploit vulnerabilities in real-world environments.
The ethical hacker primarily looks for the following information:
- What are the loopholes such as information, locations, or systems that an attacker can gain access to?
- What can an attacker see with this information?
- What can the attacker do with the available information?
- Is anyone already noticing or reacting to such attempts in the information systems?
The digital transformation and emerging technologies like blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) have multiplied the demand for ethical hackers. Payscale reports that the average salary of a Certified Ethical Hacker is $92,000 in the US and ?483,875 in India.
Ethical Hacker Skills: Basic Skills for Ethical Hacking
There are many different skills needed to be an ethical hack er and to become successful in ethical hacking . Perhaps the most important and one of the required skills for ethical hacking is the ability to think like a hacker. This means being able to understand how hackers think and operate, and being able to anticipate their next move.
Additionally, ethical hackers need to have a strong understanding of computer networks and systems. They need to know how to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and how to exploit them. In addition, they need to be well-versed in programming languages and tools, in order to be able to create custom scripts and programs.
Finally, ethical hackers must be able to communicate effectively, both with clients and with other members of their team. They need to be able to clearly explain their findings, and make recommendations for how to fix any issues that they find.
By possessing all of these ethical hacking basic skills , an ethical hacker will be armed with everything they need to be successful.
Top Core Tech Skills Required for Ethical Hacking
1. Excellent Computer Skills
Ethical hacking is a process of identifying weaknesses in computer systems and networks and then utilizing those same techniques to secure the systems. While it may sound simple, ethical hacking is actually a complex process that requires a deep understanding of both computer hardware and software. In order to be an effective ethical hacker, you must first have excellent computer skills. This means being able to quickly understand and utilize new technologies.
Moreover, you must be able to think creatively to identify potential vulnerabilities. Once you have identified a vulnerability, you must then be able to exploit it in order to gain access to the system. Finally, you must be able to properly document your work so that others can replicate your results. Without these ethical hacking core skills , it will be difficult to effectively perform ethical hacking.
2. Programming Skills
Ethical hacking requires a strong foundation in programming skills. After all, ethical hackers are essentially using their knowledge of code to find vulnerabilities in systems and then proposing solutions to fix those vulnerabilities. Without programming skills, it would be impossible to understand how systems work and how to find weaknesses in them. The most common programming languages used by ethical hackers are Python, Java, and PHP.
However, any language that can be used to write code can be used for hacking purposes. The important thing is to have a strong understanding of how code works and how it can be used to create or solve problems. There are many resources available online for learning how to code, so there is no excuse for not having at least some basic coding skills before trying to ethical hack.
3. Database Skills
Ethical hacking requires a number of different skills to be successful. One of the most important ethical hacker skills is the ability to work with databases. Hackers need to be able to understand how databases are structured and how they work in order to be able to find security vulnerabilities. In addition, hackers need to be able to use database management tools in order to manipulate data and access restricted information. Without these skills, it would be very difficult for ethical hackers to do their job.
4. SQL Skills
Ethical hacking is an increasingly popular profession that calls for a very specific set of skills. Perhaps one of the most essential ethical hacking skills required for an ethical hacker is the ability to write and understand SQL queries. SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a programming language specifically designed for working with databases.
To find vulnerable information in a database, an ethical hacker needs to be able to craft SQL queries that can extract the desired data. This requires a deep understanding of how databases are structured and how SQL can be used to manipulate them. Without this essential skill, it would be impossible to engage in ethical hacking.
5. Linux Skills
As anyone in the IT field knows, Linux is a powerful operating system that provides users with a wide range of tools and features. For ethical hackers, Linux skills are essential, as they allow you to access the inner workings of a system and identify potential vulnerabilities. In addition, Linux skills provide you with the ability to create custom scripts and programs that can be used to automate various tasks.
While there are many different ways to learn Linux skills, the most effective way is to get hands-on experience by working with a variety of different distributions. By doing so, you’ll gain a better understanding of how Linux works, and you’ll be able to customize your tools and techniques to meet your specific needs.
As anyone in the cybersecurity field knows, ethical hacking is a critical tool for keeping information safe. By identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in systems, ethical hackers can help to prevent data breaches and other malicious activity. However, ethical hacking is not simply a matter of poking around until you find a weakness. Rather, it requires a careful and methodical approach. One of the core ethical hacker skills required for ethical hacking is cryptography.
Cryptography is the practice of encrypting and decrypting information. Ethical hackers use cryptography to protect data from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. They also use it to create “backdoors” into systems, allowing them to access sensitive information without raising alarms. As such, cryptography is an essential tool for any ethical hacker.
7. Social Engineering Skills
Ethical hacking requires a mix of technical and social skills. On the technical side, ethical hackers need to be well-versed in cybersecurity tools and techniques. They must also have a strong understanding of how computer systems work. However, technical skills alone are not enough to be an effective ethical hacker.
Ethical hackers also need well-developed social engineering skills. This includes being able to gather information about targets through conversation, research, and observation. Ethical hackers use this information to exploit weaknesses in security systems. Moreover, you must also look to pursue cyber security training courses online for development of enhanced ethical hacker skills .
8. Web Applications
A key skill for ethical hackers is the ability to find and exploit vulnerabilities in web applications. Hackers can use a variety of techniques to find these vulnerabilities, including code review, network analysis, and black box testing.
Once a vulnerability has been found, the hacker can then exploit it to gain access to sensitive data or take control of the application. To be successful, ethical hackers must have a deep understanding of how web applications work and how to find and exploit their vulnerabilities.
Understanding cybersecurity fundamentals
Software is written to run on computers, which are complicated systems. Additionally, this software can be designed to interact with other software and other computers, which only adds to the mess. If you want to write programs — or break them — then it is essential to understand the environments in which these applications run.
This is true whether you want to fix vulnerabilities or exploit them as a penetration tester. In most cases, if a vulnerability exists within an application, it probably has to do with some low-level component. Understanding how the vulnerability works and what went wrong requires an understanding of these low-level components.
For example, buffer overflow vulnerabilities — a class of vulnerabilities that include three of the top five vulnerabilities in the Common Weakness Enumeration (a well-regarded list of software issues) Top 25 list of the most dangerous software weaknesses — deal with the improper use of memory.
The takeaway here is that if you understand how an application interacts with the memory on a computer and the functions used for memory allocation, then buffer overflow vulnerabilities are a simple concept. On the other hand, if you don’t know what the stack is, understanding the implications of a buffer overflow vulnerability for application security will be much harder.
Similarly, other low-level components can go wrong in a variety of different ways.
Identifying when something is wrong with an application requires an understanding of how to interact with these low-level components correctly.
Finding the vulnerabilities
Once you know how everything is supposed to work, the next step is learning how everything can go wrong. Understanding common vulnerabilities and how they work will enable you to identify the same errors in different applications.
If you’re tracking vulnerability stats, it may seem like new types of attacks are being discovered every day. For the last few years, over 22,000 new vulnerabilities have been discovered each year, according to one study done by the vulnerability intelligence firm, Risk Based Security . If you focus on the numbers like this, the thought of learning how all of these different vulnerabilities work may seem overwhelming.
However, the truth is that software security hasn’t changed much over the years and it wasn’t very diverse in the first place. These massive numbers of vulnerabilities exist because developers keep making the same mistakes in different applications. For example, there are currently over 148,000 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) — which are publicly reported vulnerabilities — but these vulnerabilities are classified into only 916 different CWEs .
For example, take a look at the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top Ten list of common web application vulnerabilities. This is one of the most famous cybersecurity resources in existence and lists the most common vulnerabilities in web applications at the time it is published (every few years).
More specifically, focus on the Release Notes , which describe the changes between 2013 and 2017 (the most recent version). The newest version has three new vulnerabilities, two that were bumped from the list, and two that were merged into a single vulnerability. In summary, not much has changed in the last eight years. The same is largely true for earlier versions of the list as well back to when it was first created in 2003.