Ethical hacking (also known as penetration testing) is a proactive form of information security. Businesses and organizations hire ethical hackers to help improve their networks, applications, and other computer systems in order to prevent data theft and fraud. The hacking will be ethical hacking if the hacker has permission from the owner to probe their network and identify security risks.
Ethical hacker also known as white hat hacker is a skilled IT security expert. The job of an ethical hacker is to prevent cyber crimes and protect cyber space from intrusion. They ensure data security and protect computer systems from illegal hacking activities.
Ethical Hacker's Tasks:
- They use their knowledge and skills to protect computer systems from illegal hackers.
- Find the areas which are susceptible to attack in the network
- Carry out penetration testing and intrusion testing to find and expose any weak points that could be taken advantage of by a malicious hacker.
- Perform application analysis, reverse engineering, malware analysis, protocol analysis, and debugging.
First of all, you need a bachelor degree or equivalent certification in computer science. Then join network certifications like Network+ or CCNA to gain the networking skills. Then go for an ethical hacking certification.
A certified ethical hacker will have a variety of certifications. The key certification to have is the Certified Ethical Hacker certification from the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, which is obtained by taking a short course.
The skills that are required to become an ethical hacker are:
- Computer knowledge: An ethical hacker must be a computer systems expert and needs to have very strong programming, SQL and computer networking skills.
- Knowledge of Hacking tools: Hacking tools are programs that simplify the process of identifying and exploiting weaknesses in computer systems
- Vulnerabilities Development: The ethical hacker will have to be able to create worms, viruses, and other vulnerabilities. These can be used to test the system to see the damage that can be caused.
- Analytical skills: Analytical skills to painstakingly review and dissect large amounts of complex data
- Patience: An ethical hacker needs to have a lot of patience, persistence, and perseverance to try again and again and wait for the required result
It is important to continuously learn and update skills, as the world of hacking progresses quickly.
How to be there?
1. Get the bachelor degree or equivalent in computer science.
2. Get into a programmer’s role for some years and then get some experience in tech support.
3. Proceed to get network certifications like Network+ or CCNA and then security certifications like Security+, CISSP, or TICSA.
4. Get some work experience as a Network Engineer and System Administrator to understand networks and systems inside out.
5. Master the art of penetration testing, foot printing and reconnaissance, and social engineering.
6. Finally, go for a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Certification.
The salaries of ethical hackers tend to be nearly 20 to 30% more than the salaries earned by professionals in other positions at the same level in other IT fields.
The average salary of an ethical hacker is 4-5 lakh INR yearly. This would get increased with experience and can be double in a couple of years.
With the increasing use of internet the rate of cyber crimes also getting an increase. Today, most of the data is in digital format and thus the security is a big concern. Each organization either government or private are looking for the experts in the field to protect data and avoid the hacking attacks. But there is a huge gap between the demand and the availability. So, if you are thinking about this career, then this is the right time for you.
An ethical hacker can work as a regular employee at a company, in a government organization or as an independent consultant. They can work in Defense organizations, law enforcement organizations, forensic organizations, detective companies, investigative organizations, Cyber Crime Cell, Defense intelligence etc.
Graduates can set up their own companies offering ethical hacking services. Companies such as Wipro, Infosys, IBM, TCS, Tech Mahindra, HCL, Airtel, Reliance and many more are also looking for good ethical hackers.
Pros and Cons
- Good remuneration
- Great job opportunities
- Technically challenging and interesting
- Need lots of effort and high level skills to get into this job
- Sometime stressful too
- Need to continue study and update skills