Hacking is generally deemed to be unethical and is something that businesses of all sizes fear. Most businesses do everything they can to protect their IT systems from hackers, including purchasing firewalls and anti-malware software to use on their devices. Some businesses however take it one step further by employing ethical hackers. In this article we will explain the role of the ethical hacker and how they can be used to beat hackers at their own game.
It is the job of ethical hackers to hack companies’ systems (with their permission) to expose issues that need to be fixed.
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What is an ethical hacker?
An ethical hacker is an individual who has the job of attacking a company’s security system to find its vulnerabilities, which could be targeted by malicious hackers. They are computer and network experts who use the same methods as malicious hackers in order to attack systems, but with completely different motives. Instead of taking advantage of a company’s security vulnerabilities, an ethical hacker will report them and explain what the company needs to do in order to improve the security of their system.
Organisations using ethical hackers
The government have been using ethical hackers for a while now, in order to expose vulnerabilities and ensure that their security measures are hardened against future attacks. The United States government were one of the first organisations to use ethical hackers. They employed a team of ethical hackers called ‘red teams’ back in the 1970s to hack their own computer system. Over the years many technology companies have also used ethical hackers including the likes of IBM and Microsoft. It is believed that more and more companies outside the government and technology sectors are now considering employing ethical hackers in an attempt to prevent the growing number of malicious hackers from targeting weak areas of their systems.
Becoming an ethical hacker
Now that ethical hacking is becoming a more mainstream security measure used by businesses, it is the best time for those interested in the role to take the next step in their career development. Ethical hackers put businesses at an advantage as they are able to beat hackers at their own games. However in order to be successful, ethical hackers must always aim to be one step ahead of malicious hackers. This requires them to carry out a lot of research and attend security conferences in order to stay up to date with the latest hacking techniques. It is essential that ethical hackers also understand the methods of testing systems and how applications can be hardened in order to prevent cyber-attacks.
Certified ethical hackers
If you think about it, a company isn’t going to hire just any self-claimed ethical hacker to manipulate their systems and expose their weaknesses. Ethical hacking is still relatively new to businesses, so there is always going to back a lack of trust at first. In order to stand a good chance at being employed as an ethical hacker, you will need to have carried out the right training and gained the relevant certification. Certified ethical hackers are deemed to be more trustworthy and reputable by companies and are therefore more likely to be hired to carry out the work.
When looking for a CEH training programme to go on before you take the examination, it is essential that it tests your practical skills. You should be looking for a programme where you can actually practice hacking into systems and resolving security issues.
Ethical hackers also act as consultants as they provide businesses with solutions to problems with their IT security.
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Today ethical hackers are becoming extremely valuable to businesses. Not only can ethical hackers help businesses’ expose their systems vulnerabilities, but they can also help them fix security issues. Those interested in becoming an ethical hacker must ensure that they undergo the necessary training and take the appropriate examination. Unless you are certified, you are unlikely to be able to get a job as an ethical hacker.