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Ethical Hacking refers to testing a computer system, network, or web application for weaknesses in security and reporting the results to the concerned authority. Hackers prefer “hacking” as something done illegally. In contrast, ethical hackers use the same hacking techniques but report their findings directly to responsible parties instead of selling them on the Black Market.
What Is Ethical Hacking?
The term ‘Security’ has been a hot topic among people from both technical fields and non-technical fields these days because who wants its information/data being hacked into by someone else, right?
The Internet has increased our dependence on various IT Services that we have become almost dependent on it without thinking twice about what’s going behind the screen. We may not be aware of it, but we use different services offered by big corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others that require our personal information stored on their servers.
This data includes your username, password, emails, and other such stuff. Now, what if someone gains unauthorized access to your account?
The first thing you may think is, how the hell did they get my password even though I’ve taken so much care over it? Well, you can’t do anything about it because no one wants to change their passwords every month.
Plus, people tend to use the same passwords for a limited number of accounts. This makes it easier for hackers to crack into those accounts since most of us face the same problem, thus making our accounts weak in the true sense.
These hackers can either take advantage of that account right away or put your information up for sale on Black Market, which is then used in illegal activities which initially started with Phishing and ended with targeted spamming campaigns.
Types of Ethical Hackers
There are different types of hackers, each with its motivations. These groups can be broken down into three categories:
Black hats are typically individuals or groups that hack for personal or financial gain. They use their knowledge to exploit vulnerabilities in servers, networks, programs, and websites to access private data or deface websites for nuisance purposes.
White hats can include security professionals and researchers who discover vulnerabilities primarily so that the system owner can fix the error before a malicious attacker exploits it.
Grey hats occupy an ethical and legal “grey area.” This group includes hackers who explore systems and share information about holes only to individuals or groups they trust.
Roles & Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker
An Ethical Hacker is always a type of White Hat Hacker, meaning they will not use any illegal means to fulfill their goals; yes, you got it correct! They will only use ‘Authorized’ tools to complete their tasks approved by the concerned authority.
Some people think that an Ethical Hacker must know everything about Hacking and Cracking, but that’s not true at all since they’re just hired for a particular task.
The best example would be Facebook, where they have a team of highly skilled individuals called Social Engineers who have been trained so that anyone can fall for their tricks even if he doesn’t know what Facebook is.
This knowledge is then used for different purposes like Online Reputation Management, Risk Analysis, or even getting rid of spam messages sent on Facebook.
An Ethical Hacker must know about programming, Networking, and scripting languages like C++, Python, etc. They’re the base, followed by other skills needed to carry out a successful penetration test. Their duty mainly involves:
• Planning & Analyzing
• System Hacking
• Network Hacking
(Where an Ethical hacker will make use of their programming and networking knowledge) penetration testing (Pentest). This may sound simple, but not as Ethical Hackers need to be completely aware of Weak Points in the system, which need to be taken care of before starting Pentest.
Benefits of an Ethical Hacker
I’m sure you must have heard Ethical Hackers turning into Black Hats anytime soon. Many people believe that if they know a little about hacking, they will become a master in no time, and there’s nothing called lousy publicity, so why not do it?
Well, let me answer this question for you, yes it is possible, but it requires a lot of hard work and dedication, which most people lack nowadays since everyone wants quick results rather than doing something which takes time to complete.
Some who even tried turning into Black Hats failed miserably as most of them aren’t aware that becoming an expert hacker isn’t just your computer knowledge but your psychology. If you’re good at hacking someone’s mind, you will become a successful Ethical Hacker for sure.
Other than that, there are many benefits of becoming an Ethical Hacker, which includes:
• You’ll get paid well if you’re good at what you do
• A lot of Opportunities will be available to work with different countries/organizations around the world who want everything to be done legally, so they can’t hire Black Hats unless necessary.
Phases of Ethical Hacking
The phases of Ethical Hacking are as follow:
This is divided into three areas: passive reconnaissance, active reconnaissance, and intrusive reconnaissance. Passive reconnaissance involves gathering information about your target without them knowing.
Active reconnaissance uses network scanning tools to discover hidden or closed ports on a system, allowing one to identify active systems and applications running on these ports. Intrusive reconnaissance includes vulnerability scanning tools that can probe further than just identifying open ports.
These scans can discover vulnerabilities on the system, which can then be used as a launchpad for other penetration testing efforts.
Once a target has been chosen, scanning tools should be used to look for open ports and known vulnerabilities in the systems running on those ports.
Vulnerability scanning tools will bombard these ports with information requests, which should not interfere with normal system operations if configured correctly.
In some cases, this phase could include port scanning or service identification – identifying specific types of services running on a system so they can be probed further during subsequent stages.
This phase involves taking what was learned from reconnaissance and vulnerability scans, identifying user accounts, and mapping out the network layout by looking at device configurations.
Social engineering is often used during this phase to trick users into providing sensitive information that can be used to access the system.
During Windows vulnerability assessment, you’ll use exploit tools to gain control over a system once vulnerabilities have been identified.
You may need administrative-level credentials to complete this stage if the required services are disabled or run by the root user. Data Manipulation: If you successfully exploit systems, you can now gather sensitive data from them and move it onto other systems.
Sometimes called man-in-the-middle attacks, these exploits use software installed on one computer (such as a file server or domain controller) to intercept traffic between two other computers (such as workstations) and send the data directly to an attacker.
- Covering Tracks
The final phase is to cover your tracks and ensure detection is minimized. Removal of tools used for an attack and any files or data that has been compromised needs to be undertaken before the penetration test officially concludes.
To summarize, I would like to say that anyone who wants to become an Ethical Hacker should first clear his basics and start developing skills before applying for any job opening since many vacancies require programming knowledge, mainly during the interview.
So what are you waiting for? If hacking sounds interesting, grab your chance now and make sure to read thoroughly before applying since many organizations only hire people who know their work experience and responsibilities and might help you land a better job than expected.