The word ‘ethical hacking’ generates a mixed opinion among people. Many argue, hacking of any kind cannot be ethical, as it involves obtaining unauthorized security access. With the increased attacks on internet security worldwide, however, we cannot ignore the importance of it. This is when ethical hacking came to play. It is a set of techniques to address the increasing Internet and network security issues. The ones deploying it known as the ‘white hat’ hackers as opposed to the ‘black hat’ hackers or the security intruders.
A Little Bit of History
The concept of ethical hacking emerged as late as 1993. A security expert Dan Farmer and a security programmer Wietsa Venema devised a technique which they used to extract some information. They posted it in Usenet and mentioned that the technique could have compromised with the security of a few target systems. Later they devised an application where they bundled all the tools they used and named the application as SATAN or Security Analysis Tool for Auditing Network.
In 1995 Netscape Communication Corporation launched the first Bug Bounty Program. Hackers would be offered rewards for reporting vulnerabilities to the company before they could be exploited. This is when the term ‘ethical hacker’ came into being. With the popularity of Bug Bounty Programs, more and more companies gradually stepped into the shoes of Netscape. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft started their own bug bounty programs for reporting vulnerabilities in the system and ethical hacking gradually started gaining popularity.
Why Ethical Hacking?
From terrorist organizations to random intruders, Internet security breaches are getting increasingly common worldwide. The hacking of the database of Ola cabs in 2015 exposed millions of customer account to the hackers with an access to their credit card details and unused vouchers. The recent Yahoo data security incident made more 500 million e-mail accounts vulnerable to the risk of Internet security breach. It exposed that however, big an organization may be; it is not free from internet security threats. This explains that we need an equivalent system to counter this unauthorized intrusion.
Ethical hacking is a systematic process where a person follows a set of rules and regulations to breach the security of a system. Ethical hacking, as the name suggests is done with no malicious intention, instead, it is done to enhance the security of the system and identify the existing loopholes. The security of the system and network is generally tested from the point of view of an external intruder as well as an internal element.
How They Do It
The first thing one must possess as a white hat hacker is the hackers’ mindset. As a hacker, one should not only evaluate the logical security, but also the physical security of a system. Besides, one is expected to possess a thorough knowledge of the penetration testing techniques, system hacking methodologies, working of system viruses and awareness of web server attacks. Knowledge of cyber security tools like Nmap, Nessus, Nikto, Kismet are some of the must haves for a career in ethical hacking. Programming and computer networking skill can really be a feather in the cap.
A Look at the Job Scenario
With the increasing risk of Internet security issues, more and more companies are hiring security experts. Companies like Tata Consultancy Services, KPMG, and Amazon hire professionals in Internet security to enhance their security against intruders. Internet security consultancies like Lucideus Tech are gaining popularity among banks and other global organizations. Security experts are also regularly being hired by the government and investigating agencies to counter security threats. Some also choose to work as independent ethical hackers and cyber security consultants, providing services to various global organizations.
In spite of the growing demand in the Internet security domain, what is worrisome is the fact that there is a severe dearth of information security professionals worldwide. A survey conducted by International Data Corp says that at present there is a demand for more than 60,000 information security and cyber security professionals in India and this demand is expected to grow to 77,000 in the next few years. The demand is expected to touch 188,000 worldwide. According to Ian Glover president of Council of Registered Ethical Security Tester “The cyber security industry is fast-paced, exciting and changing, but there is a huge lack of skilled people”. The salaries in the field range from € 30,000 to €60,000 per annum. The job roles that one can expect in this industry can be that of a security analyst, security administrator, security architect and security consultant. However, it is not limited to these.
The Shining Stars.
With the emergence of new threats, we also have some new heroes, like Saket Modi, Rishiraj Sharma, Arun S Kumar and Anand Prakash. The Internet security consultancy provided by them helped save some of the biggest banks and organizations worldwide from data theft and security vulnerabilities. Says Rishiraj, India’s youngest independent ethical hacker who provided service to companies like Google and Microsoft, “Hacking is an unavoidable part of any technology that deals with information, people or data. This is why there is a special emphasis on security”. This explains how a mere security intrusion can be a potential threat to any person or an organization.
Training and Certification
Ethical hacking offers a combination of intellectual challenge and awareness of constantly evolving technologies. A Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) program can equip one for a career in Internet security. The certificate is globally recognized and is awarded by The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). The course is pretty much affordable and exposes the students to skills like penetration testing techniques, hacking methodologies, the use of security tools and how the security in the different system works.
One bright side of the picture is that Cyber security expert is gradually emerging as a favorite career choice among bright and enthusiast youngsters. As a rewarding career, it can satiate the craving of challenge and intellect. With new cyber threats joining the existing queue every day, these ‘Cyber Cops’ are the only people we can look up to, for making the Internet a little safer.
Want to be an Internet security expert? AcadGild’s CEH certification can help you be one. With certificate awarded from EC-Council, you can make it as a white hat ethical hacker.