What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical Hacking means hacking websites and servers, stealing money, or cracking passwords? The answer is No. Ethical Hacking means scanning and finding potential threats, vulnerabilities, or data breaches on a system or a network. The purpose is to find the loopholes and attacks on the system or network and improve them for better security, thereby preventing hackers from gaining the information.
It is said to be Ethical Hacking only if it follows the rules and regulations of the concerned organization or governing body. Sometimes it is also known as penetration testing. As the name suggests, to penetrate the system and analyze the system for any breaches.
Difference between Hacking and Ethical Hacking:
A person who performs Ethical Hacking is known as an Ethical Hacker. Ethical Hackers are categorized into three types;
1. White Hat Hackers
A white hat hacker is responsible for checking and identifying the vulnerabilities in a network, system, or website. White hat hackers only check the activities that are legally permitted.
Companies hire white hat hackers to test networks, systems, or websites. They are provided with all the needed information about the website or network by the organization. They check the vulnerabilities in the website and conduct several tests on it before it goes live to the public.
White hat hackers are responsible for carrying out deep scans using the methods a black hat hacker would use to hack the system. But they have some restrictions while doing the same as they have to abide by the ethics & regulations of the organization they work in. That is why they are named Ethical Hackers.
White hat hackers are known as good hackers as they help big companies for swift performance in their network, website, or system without any downtime. They take all the preventive measures for a robust and secure network.
2. Black Hat Hackers
The black hat hackers are the bad guys in the hacker world and are considered cybercriminals. The black hat hackers bypass the regulations and use unethical ways to hack the systems. They are motivated to enter into the website or network and steal the data for their personal benefit.
Black hat hackers bypass the security protocols and enter into websites and networks. They do not only intend to steal the data but also to modify or destroy the same. They can be from any country, gender, or age. Their ultimate motivation is to make from the Hacking.
Black hat hackers use different methods for hacking or breaking into the systems, such as malicious attacks, email phishing, etc. The black hat hackers cause severe damage to the networks and exploit highly sensitive data from servers.
It is debatable whether White Hat Hackers are superior or the Black Hat Hackers are prominent. But one must understand that white hat hackers follow the law while black hat hackers break the law.
3. Grey Hat Hackers
Grey hat hackers are the ones who violate ethics and regulations without any malicious motive. Gray hat hackers serve as the middle ground between the white hat hackers and the black hat hackers.
Grey hat hackers access the systems and networks without prior permission, but they consider themselves good guys as they do not have any motive, such as black hat hackers.
Grey hat hackers access the systems, which white hat hackers cannot do without permission. This gives the grey hat hackers significance as they can show the flaws in the system. Sometimes they inform the concerned organization of such flaws; sometimes, they don’t.
Which problems are identified by Ethical Hackers?
Here are the most common loopholes and vulnerabilities identified by Ethical hackers:
- Phishing Attack
- Injection Attack
- Sensitive Data Breach
- Broken Authentication
- Malicious Attack
- System & Security Misconfigurations
After penetration testing, such common vulnerabilities are identified, and a report is drafted. This report includes the process to mitigate the flaws and prevent them in the future.
What are the roles & responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker?
Ethical Hackers are usually hired to test and find the flaws in the system. The primary purpose is to find them, analyze them and prevent any system compromise and data breach in the future. Here are some significant roles & responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker:
- Risk Assessment
- Conduct a few penetration tests on the system
- Identifying any flaws or vulnerabilities
- Find the cause of vulnerabilities, if found any
- Checking the network security
- Preparing the detailed reports/security audit of all the tests
- Reporting to concerned authorities
- Handling the loopholes and preventing them
- Continuous research on the network and systems
The Ethical Hacker is also responsible for keeping the data safe, which is found vulnerable during the tests. They are liable to keep all the information confidential. For that purpose, a non-disclosure agreement is signed with the organization.
Which skills are required to become an Ethical Hacker?
The essential eligibility criteria usually involve bachelor’s or engineering degrees. Bachelors or Masters in Computer Science or allied courses would have an advantage over others. To become an Ethical Hacker, one needs to master several computer skills. Here is the list of the common skills required for an Ethical Hacker:
- Computer System & Networking Skills
- Computer Hardware Knowledge
- Windows & Linux Operating System Knowledge
- Programming Language Skills
- SQL Knowledge
- Reverse Engineering Skills
- Database Knowledge
Along with these skills, you would have an advantage over the other candidates if you have some of the following certifications:
- EC Council: Certified Ethical Hacking Certification
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) Certification
- CompTIA Security+
- Cisco’s CCNA Security
- SANS GIAC
- SANS GPEN
- Certified Penetration Testing Consultant (CPTC)
- Certified Penetration Testing Engineer (CPTE)
Which job profiles are offered to Ethical Hackers?
Ethical Hacking is a field which does offer multiple job profiles under the domain. Companies hire Ethical Hackers to test networks, systems, hardware, and websites to find potential threats. Apart from this, Ethical Hackers are offered some security job profiles, too, and that is as follows;
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Security Consultant
- Intrusion Detection Analyst
- Ethical Hacker
- IT Security Engineer
- Information Security Manager
- IT Security Administrator
- Information Security Analyst
- Network Security Analyst
- Certified Ethical Hacker
- Security Analyst
- Ethical Hacker
- Penetration Tester
These are some job titles you might be offered as an Ethical Hacker or allied work. Remember, the job title can change per the job’s roles and responsibilities, for example, instead of Network Security Analyst as Network Security Administrator, or instead of IT Security Engineer as IT Security Officer, etc.
How much salary an Ethical Hacker can expect?
There is a good demand for Ethical Hackers in the USA, which is why they are paid well. But these earnings vary significantly as per the experience and the methods used for testing purposes. The salary structure also varies as per the job location and as per job title too. We have researched a lot and collected some data based on some surveys. We will give you a snapshot of the salary for an Ethical Hacker considering experience, location, and job profile.
Salary Based on Experience
- Entry-Level – $50,000 – $100,000 (Exp. 0 – 5 Years)
- Mid-Senior Level – $100,000 – $125,000 (Exp. 5-10 Years)
- Senior Level – $125,000 – limitless (Exp. 10 Years+)
Salary Based on Location:
These salary estimates are average and are calculated based on surveys. If you have good expertise and credentials, the salary can be in the higher range too.
- California – $103,000
- Washington D.C. – $ 97,060
- Maryland – $93,786
- New York – $92,625
- Virginia – $92,000
Salary-Based Job Profiles
- Penetration Tester – $50,000 – $127,000
- Network Security Analyst – $41,357 – $106,560
- Cyber Security Analyst – $48,079 – $118,990
- Information Security Analyst – $48,492 – $107,001
- Information Security Manager – $73,256 – $153,160
- IT Security Engineer – $56,015 – $132,526
These salary estimates vary as per work experience and location.
As we have witnessed countless cybercrimes over the decade, it is pretty easy to understand why there is a good demand for these job profiles. These jobs are being offered all across the globe, even in the top companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Tesla, Microsoft, etc. As long as computer systems and networks exist, there will be a demand for Ethical Hackers. It is a trendy career path for all graduates, especially with a computer science background.
This is the best time to learn about Ethical Hacking and grab the opportunity.