What is Ethical Hacking?
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical Hacking is an authorized practice of bypassing system security to identify potential data breaches and threats in a network because The company that owns the system or network allows Cyber Security engineers to perform such activities in order to test the system’s defenses. Thus, unlike malicious hacking, this process is planned, approved, and more importantly, legal.
Ethical hackers aim to investigate the system or network for weak points that malicious hackers can exploit or destroy. They collect and analyze the information to figure out ways to strengthen the security of the system/network/applications. By doing so, they can improve the security footprint so that it can better withstand attacks or divert them.
Ethical hackers are hired by organizations to look into the vulnerabilities of their systems and networks and develop solutions to prevent data breaches. Consider it a high-tech permutation of the old saying “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”
They check for key vulnerabilities include but are not limited to:
- Injection attacks
- Changes in security settings
- Exposure of sensitive data
- Breach in authentication protocols
- Components used in the system or network that may be used as access points
What is the best way to fix the vulnerability?
Ethical hackers learn and perform hacking in a professional manner, based on the direction of the client, and later, present a maturity scorecard highlighting their overall risk and vulnerabilities and suggestions to improve.
Importance of Ethical Hacking?
In the dawn of international conflicts, terrorist organizations funding cybercriminals to breach security systems, either to compromise national security features or to extort huge amounts by injecting malware and denying access. Resulting in the steady rise of cybercrime. Organizations face the challenge of updating hack-preventing tactics, installing several technologies to protect the system before falling victim to the hacker.
New worms, malware, viruses, and ransomware are primary benefit are multiplying every day and is creating a need for ethical hacking services to safeguard the networks of businesses, government agencies or defense.
Government agencies and business organizations today are in constant need of ethical hackers to combat the growing threat to IT security. A lot of government agencies, professionals and corporations now understand that if you want to protect a system, you cannot do it by just locking your doors
– says Shivam Giri, CEO of Cyber Yodha
Benefits of Ethical Hacking?
The primary benefit of ethical hacking is to prevent data from being stolen and misused by malicious attackers, as well as:
- Discovering vulnerabilities from an attacker’s POV so that weak points can be fixed.
- Implementing a secure network that prevents security breaches.
- Defending national security by protecting data from terrorists.
- Gaining the trust of customers and investors by ensuring the security of their products and data.
- Helping protect networks with real-world assessments.
Practice ethical hacking to Ensure Safe Stay at Home
Types of Ethical Hacking?
It is no big secret that any system, process, website, device, etc., can be hacked. In order to understand how the hack might happen and what the damage could be, ethical hackers must know how to think like malicious hackers and know the tools and techniques they are likely to use.
The term system can be anything, either a desktop, laptop or tablet, etc. When the term “System Hacking” comes into play, it usually means the art of hacking a computer using tools and techniques. ‘How to hack a system or computer?’ is probably one of the most frequently asked questions by most Internet users and hacking enthusiasts. So here’s a brief idea of what and how system hacking plays a significant role to doom the target.
Web Server Hacking
A web server, which can be referred to as the hardware, the computer, or the software, is the computer application that helps to deliver content that can be accessed through the Internet. Most people think a web server is just the hardware computer, but a web server is also the software computer application that is installed in the hardware computer. The primary function of a web server is to deliver web pages on the request to clients using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
Hacking Wireless Networks
A wireless network is a set of two or more devices connected with each other via radio waves within a limited space range. The devices in a wireless network have the freedom to be in motion, but be in connection with the network and share data with other devices in the network. One of the most crucial point that they are so spread is that their installation cost is very cheap and fast than the wire networks.
Wireless networks are widely used and it is quite easy to set them up. They use IEEE 802.11 standards. A wireless router is the most important device in a wireless network that connects the users with the Internet.
The term social engineering refers to methods employed by hackers to gain the trust of an end user so that the hacker can obtain information that can be used to access data or systems. Social engineering typically involves impersonating representatives of legitimate organizations to manipulate people into supplying information such as passwords or personal details.
Social engineering can involve phone calls, emails or texts. Sometimes referred to as “human hackers,” social engineers employ a variety of methods to convince users to divulge information, often masquerading as tech support or bank employees.
Types of Hackers
Hackers are of different types and are named based on their intent of the hacking system. Broadly, there are two main hackers – White-Hat hacker and Black-Hat hacker. The names are derived from old Spaghetti Westerns, where the good guy wears a white hat and the bad guy wears a black hat.
Contrary to an ethical hacker, black hat hackers or non-ethical hackers perform hacking to fulfill their selfish intentions to collect monetary benefits.
The best way to differentiate between White Hat and Black Hat hackers is by taking a look at their motives. Black Hat hackers are motivated by malicious intent, manifested by personal gains, profit, or harassment; whereas White Hat hackers seek out and remedy vulnerabilities, so as to prevent Black Hats from taking advantage.
The other ways to draw a distinction between White Hat and Black Hat hackers include:
White Hat hackers duplicate the techniques and methods followed by malicious hackers in order to find out the system discrepancies, replicating all the latter’s steps to find out how a system attack occurred or may occur. If they find a weak point in the system or network, they report it immediately and fix the flaw.
White Hat hackers are employed by organizations to penetrate their systems and detect security issues. Black hat hackers neither own the system nor work for someone who owns it.
Even though White Hat hacking follows the same techniques and methods as Black Hat hacking, only one is legally acceptable. Black Hat hackers break the law by penetrating systems without consent.
After understanding what is ethical hacking, the types of ethical hackers, and knowing the difference between white-hat and black-hat hackers, let’s have a look at the ethical hacker roles and responsibilities.
Grey hat hackers are the combination of white and black hat hackers. They hack without any malicious intention for fun. They perform the hacking without any approval from the targeted organization.
vulnerabilities, providing solutions to fix them and ensure safety.
Ethical hacking is a process of detecting vulnerabilities in an application, system, or organization’s infrastructure that an attacker can use to exploit an individual or organization. They use this process to prevent cyberattacks and security breaches by lawfully hacking into the systems and looking for weak points. An ethical hacker follows the steps and thought process of a malicious attacker to gain authorized access and test the organization’s strategies and network.
An attacker or an ethical hacker follows the same five-step hacking process to breach the network or system. The ethical hacking process begins with looking for various ways to hack into the system, exploiting vulnerabilities, maintaining steady access to the system, and lastly, clearing one’s tracks.
The five phases of ethical hacking are:
First in the ethical hacking methodology steps is reconnaissance, also known as the footprint or information gathering phase. The goal of this preparatory phase is to collect as much information as possible. Before launching an attack, the attacker collects all the necessary information about the target. The data is likely to contain passwords, essential details of employees, etc. An attacker can collect the information by using tools such as HTTPTrack to download an entire website to gather information about an individual or using search engines such as Maltego to research about an individual through various links, job profile, news, etc.
Reconnaissance is an essential phase of ethical hacking. It helps identify which attacks can be launched and how likely the organization’s systems fall vulnerable to those attacks.
Footprinting collects data from areas such as:
- TCP and UDP services
- Through specific IP addresses
- Host of a network
In ethical hacking, footprinting is of two types:
Active: This footprinting method involves gathering information from the target directly using Nmap tools to scan the target’s network.
Passive: The second footprinting method is collecting information without directly accessing the target in any way. Attackers or ethical hackers can collect the report through social media accounts, public websites, etc.
The second step in the hacking methodology is scanning, where attackers try to find different ways to gain the target’s information. The attacker looks for information such as user accounts, credentials, IP addresses, etc. This step of ethical hacking involves finding easy and quick ways to access the network and skim for information. Tools such as dialers, port scanners, network mappers, sweepers, and vulnerability scanners are used in the scanning phase to scan data and records. In ethical hacking methodology, four different types of scanning practices are used, they are as follows:
- Vulnerability Scanning: This scanning practice targets the vulnerabilities and weak points of a target and tries various ways to exploit those weaknesses. It is conducted using automated tools such as Netsparker, OpenVAS, Nmap, etc.
- Port Scanning: This involves using port scanners, dialers, and other data-gathering tools or software to listen to open TCP and UDP ports, running services, live systems on the target host. Penetration testers or attackers use this scanning to find open doors to access an organization’s systems.
- Network Scanning: This practice is used to detect active devices on a network and find ways to exploit a network. It could be an organizational network where all employee systems are connected to a single network. Ethical hackers use network scanning to strengthen a company’s network by identifying vulnerabilities and open doors.
3. Gaining Access
The next step in hacking is where an attacker uses all means to get unauthorized access to the target’s systems, applications, or networks. An attacker can use various tools and methods to gain access and enter a system. This hacking phase attempts to get into the system and exploit the system by downloading malicious software or application, stealing sensitive information, getting unauthorized access, asking for ransom, etc. Metasploit is one of the most common tools used to gain access, and social engineering is a widely used attack to exploit a target.
Ethical hackers and penetration testers can secure potential entry points, ensure all systems and applications are password-protected, and secure the network infrastructure using a firewall. They can send fake social engineering emails to the employees and identify which employee is likely to fall victim to cyberattacks.
4. Maintaining Access
Once the attacker manages to access the target’s system, they try their best to maintain that access. In this stage, the hacker continuously exploits the system, launches DDoS attacks, uses the hijacked system as a launching pad, or steals the entire database. A backdoor and Trojan are tools used to exploit a vulnerable system and steal credentials, essential records, and more. In this phase, the attacker aims to maintain their unauthorized access until they complete their malicious activities without the user finding out.
Ethical hackers or penetration testers can utilize this phase by scanning the entire organization’s infrastructure to get hold of malicious activities and find their root cause to avoid the systems from being exploited.
5. Clearing Track
The last phase of ethical hacking requires hackers to clear their track as no attacker wants to get caught. This step ensures that the attackers leave no clues or evidence behind that could be traced back. It is crucial as ethical hackers need to maintain their connection in the system without getting identified by incident response or the forensics team. It includes editing, corrupting, or deleting logs or registry values. The attacker also deletes or uninstalls folders, applications, and software or ensures that the changed files are traced back to their original value.
In ethical hacking, ethical hackers can use the following ways to erase their tracks:
- Using reverse HTTP Shells
- Deleting cache and history to erase the digital footprint
- Using ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) Tunnels
These are the five steps of the CEH hacking methodology that ethical hackers or penetration testers can use to detect and identify vulnerabilities, find potential open doors for cyberattacks and mitigate security breaches to secure the organizations. To learn more about analyzing and improving security policies, network infrastructure, you can opt for an ethical hacking certification. The Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH v11) provided by EC-Council trains an individual to understand and use hacking tools and technologies to hack into an organization legally.
Ethical hacking involves an authorized attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer system, application, or data. Carrying out an ethical hack involves duplicating strategies and actions of malicious attackers. This practice helps to identify security vulnerabilities which can then be resolved before a malicious attacker has the opportunity to exploit them.
What is an ethical hacker?
Also known as “white hats,” ethical hackers are security experts that perform these security assessments. The proactive work they do helps to improve an organization’s security posture. With prior approval from the organization or owner of the IT asset, the mission of ethical hacking is opposite from malicious hacking.
Ethical Hacker Roles and Responsibilities
Ethical Hackers must follow certain guidelines in order to perform hacking legally. A good hacker knows his or her responsibility and adheres to all of the ethical guidelines. Here are the most important rules of Ethical Hacking:
- An ethical hacker must seek authorization from the organization that owns the system. Hackers should obtain complete approval before performing any security assessment on the system or network.
- Determine the scope of their assessment and make known their plan to the organization.
- Report any security breaches and vulnerabilities found in the system or network.
- Keep their discoveries confidential. As their purpose is to secure the system or network, ethical hackers should agree to and respect their non-disclosure agreement.
- Erase all traces of the hack after checking the system for any vulnerability. It prevents malicious hackers from entering the system through the identified loopholes.
Skills Required to Become an Ethical Hacker
An ethical hacker should have in-depth knowledge about all the systems, networks, program codes, security measures, etc. to perform hacking efficiently. Some of these skills include:
- Knowledge of programming – It is required for security professionals working in the field of application security and Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
- Scripting knowledge – This is required for professionals dealing with network-based attacks and host-based attacks.
- Networking skills – This skill is important because threats mostly originate from networks. You should know about all of the devices present in the network, how they are connected, and how to identify if they are compromised.
- Understanding of databases – Attacks are mostly targeted at databases. Knowledge of database management systems such as SQL will help you to effectively inspect operations carried out in databases.
- Knowledge of multiple platforms like Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.
- The ability to work with different hacking tools available in the market.
- Knowledge of search engines and servers.
Ethical Hacking is a challenging area of study as it requires mastery of everything that makes up a system or network. This is why certifications have become popular among aspiring ethical hackers.
This article has helped you understand what is ethical hacking, and the roles and responsibilities of an ethical hacker. Now, if you are planning to step into the world of cybersecurity, you can easily jump in with the relevant Ethical Hacking certifications, and you can advance your career in cybersecurity in the following ways:
- Certified individuals know how to design, build, and maintain a secure business environment. If you can demonstrate your knowledge in these areas, you will be invaluable when it comes to analyzing threats and devising effective solutions.
- Certified cybersecurity professionals have better salary prospects compared to their non-certified peers. According to Payscale, Certified Ethical Hackers earn an average salary of $90K in the U.S.
- Certification validates your skills in the field of IT security and makes you more noticeable while applying for challenging job roles.
- With the growing incidents of security breaches, organizations are investing hugely in IT security and prefer certified candidates for their organization.
- Startups need highly skilled professionals experienced in repelling cyber threats. A certification can help you demonstrate your IT security skills to earn high-paying jobs at startups.
Certified Ethical Hacker
In today’s world, cybersecurity has become a trending topic of increasing interest among many businesses. With malicious hackers finding newer ways to breach the defenses of networks almost every day, the role of ethical hackers has become increasingly important across all sectors. It has created a plethora of opportunities for cybersecurity professionals and has inspired individuals to take up ethical hacking as their career. So, if you have ever considered the possibilities of getting into the cybersecurity domain, or even just upskilling, this is the perfect time to do so. And of course, the most efficient way of accomplishing this is by getting certified in ethical hacking, and the best way to do that is to let Cyber Yodha help you achieve it! Check them out now, and join the fight for secure systems!
Ethical Hacking Benefits
Learning ethical hacking involves studying the mindset and techniques of black hat hackers and testers to learn how to identify and correct vulnerabilities within networks. Studying ethical hacking can be applied by security pros across industries and in a multitude of sectors. This sphere includes network defender, risk management, and quality assurance tester.
However, the most obvious benefit of learning ethical hacking is its potential to inform and improve and defend corporate networks. The primary threat to any organization’s security is a hacker: learning, understanding, and implementing how hackers operate can help network defenders prioritize potential risks and learn how to remediate them best. Additionally, getting ethical hacking training or certifications can benefit those who are seeking a new role in the security realm or those wanting to demonstrate skills and quality to their organization.
You understood what is ethical hacking, and the various roles and responsibilities of an ethical hacker, and you must be thinking about what skills you require to become an ethical hacker. So, let’s have a look at some of the ethical hacker skills.
What are the key concepts of ethical hacking?
Hacking experts follow four key protocol concepts:
- Stay legal. Obtain proper approval before accessing and performing a security assessment.
- Define the scope. Determine the scope of the assessment so that the ethical hacker’s work remains legal and within the organization’s approved boundaries.
- Report vulnerabilities. Notify the organization of all vulnerabilities discovered during the assessment. Provide remediation advice for resolving these vulnerabilities.
- Respect data sensitivity. Depending on the data sensitivity, ethical hackers may have to agree to a non-disclosure agreement, in addition to other terms and conditions required by the assessed organization.
How are ethical hackers different than malicious hackers?
Ethical hackers use their knowledge to secure and improve the technology of organizations. They provide an essential service to these organizations by looking for vulnerabilities that can lead to a security breach.
An ethical hacker reports the identified vulnerabilities to the organization. Additionally, they provide remediation advice. In many cases, with the organization’s consent, the ethical hacker performs a re-test to ensure the vulnerabilities are fully resolved.
Malicious hackers intend to gain unauthorized access to a resource (the more sensitive the better) for financial gain or personal recognition. Some malicious hackers deface websites or crash backend servers for fun, reputation damage, or to cause financial loss. The methods used and vulnerabilities found remain unreported. They aren’t concerned with improving the organizations security posture.
What skills and certifications should an ethical hacker obtain?
An ethical hacker should have a wide range of computer skills. They often specialize, becoming subject matter experts (SME) on a particular area within the ethical hacking domain.
All ethical hackers should have:
- Expertise in scripting languages.
- Proficiency in operating systems.
- A thorough knowledge of networking.
- A solid foundation in the principles of information security.
Some of the most well-known and acquired certifications include:
- Cyber Yodha: Certified Ethical Hacking Certification
- Diploma in Cyber Security
- Advance Diploma in Cyber Security\
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) Training
What problems does hacking identify?
While assessing the security of an organization’s IT asset(s), ethical hacking aims to mimic an attacker. In doing so, they look for attack vectors against the target. The initial goal is to perform reconnaissance, gaining as much information as possible.
Once the ethical hacker gathers enough information, they use it to look for vulnerabilities against the asset. They perform this assessment with a combination of automated and manual testing. Even sophisticated systems may have complex countermeasure technologies which may be vulnerable.
They don’t stop at uncovering vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers use exploits against the vulnerabilities to prove how a malicious attacker could exploit it.
Some of the most common vulnerabilities discovered by ethical hackers include:
- Injection attacks
- Broken authentication
- Security misconfigurations
- Use of components with known vulnerabilities
- Sensitive data exposure
After the testing period, ethical hackers prepare a detailed report. This documentation includes steps to compromise the discovered vulnerabilities and steps to patch or mitigate them.
What are some limitations of ethical hacking?
- Limited scope. Ethical hackers cannot progress beyond a defined scope to make an attack successful. However, it’s not unreasonable to discuss out of scope attack potential with the organization.
- Resource constraints. Malicious hackers don’t have time constraints that ethical hackers often face. Computing power and budget are additional constraints of ethical hackers.
- Restricted methods. Some organizations ask experts to avoid test cases that lead the servers to crash (e.g., Denial of Service (DoS) attacks).
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