What is Ethical Hacking? – Career & Process


Last Updated: September 5, 2022
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When you think of the word ‘Hacker’, what do you picture? A teenager in a black hoodie, sitting in his room, furiously typing on his keyboard. He is socially awkward but gets his kicks snooping into confidential information online. He hates sunlight and is always locked in a dark room with his face towards a black screen filled with green binary codes. This is the trope that the movies have created for us.

What is Ethical Hacking

What is Ethical Hacking?

Hacking is identifying weaknesses in computer systems or a private network inside a computer and gaining access by exploiting them. The purpose can either be ethical or illegal.

Hacking refers to the in-depth understanding of technology. With that knowledge, one can contribute to strengthening the security of the computer systems in an organisation. With the technical expertise, one can find flaws in a system and exploit it with legal permissions to gain full control. This entire process is known as ethical hacking in enterprises.

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What are the Types of Hackers?

  • Ethical hackers are also known as ‘White Hat Trackers’.
  • Malicious hackers are known as ‘Black Hat Trackers’.

It is believed that the terms arose from old Western movies where the ‘Good Guy’ wore a white hat and the ‘Bad Guy’ wore a black one. White Hats are altruistically-motivated while Black Hats are considered deeply sinister. It all boils down to intentions.

Scope or Career Aspect of Ethical Hackers

The job profile of an ethical hacker would include buffing up computer security systems by making certain safety modifications and plugging any and all loopholes thereby protecting it from illegal hackers. They deal with encryptions, security protocols and firewalls on a regular basis.They are usually hired by organisations to understand and fix the vulnerability of their system and protect their database. 

Rahul Tyagi, Vice President of Lucideus Tech says, “A typical day (in the life of an ethical hacker) would be pretty normal. Get up and get updated. Keep exploring throughout the day and make sure you learn something new. There is no day without listening, learning anything new and it is very exciting in cyberspace. In our organisations, our research team keeps a close eye on the latest hacks and breaches happening around the globe. We sit and work to produce the proof of concept of the latest hacks. This I can say is the most exciting and fun part of our everyday work.”

Rahul Tyagi

Depending on the project you’re working on, you would be either working for 20 hours a day or even a few hours for the duration of the assignment. At times, professionals pull several all-nighters in a row. Most hackers are active between 11 pm and 2 am. A contracted hacker may have more flexible hours compared to a full-time salaried employee.

Rizwan Shaikh, Founder and CTO of Pristine InfoSolutions says, “Education skills, communication skills and qualifications do not matter as much. You have to master the pillars of IT security -Network security, Web Security and Cyber Law. Once you are familiar with these pillars, you can build a successful career as a cybersecurity expert.”

According to Shaikh, the best way to develop and sharpen your skills is by staying updated about all the developments in the world of cybersecurity.

“You need to keep yourself updated with the latest penetration software. A working knowledge of network security and various operating systems is a must. Ethical hackers must ensure responsible disclosure of the vulnerability. They must also be clear in the limits for penetration of any vulnerability,” he says.

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Demand of Ethical Hackers in Different Fields

Thanks to the Digital India initiative, the demand for ethical hackers in India has risen substantially. Companies that are taking care of critical information like credit card information need to have an information security audit at regular intervals. For instance, when a bank is launching a new application. Ethical hackers are called in to protect it from cyber attacks once it has launched. They fix the vulnerability of the application’s system and protect the bank’s financial database and use their expertise in programming and identify areas that unethical hackers are likely to target. Ethical hackers also test the application’s infrastructure from web to mobile and from network to cloud to ensure it is safe from cyber attacks.

You will find these White Hat Trackers in government agencies, corporate houses and even academic institutes as it becomes an increasingly popular career choice for many youngsters.

The most popular ethical hacker in the world is Kevin Mitnick. As a Black Hat Tracker, he hacked into 40 major corporations and served five years in prison for the offence.

Kevin Mitnick is the most well-known ethical hacker on the planet. He hacked into 40 large corporations as a Black Hat Tracker and was sentenced to five years in prison for the crime. Following his release, he turned sides and now works as a security consultant for Fortune 500 corporations and governments throughout the world. Many aspiring ethical hackers around the world look up to him.

The increasing rate of cyber crimes has kept the role of an ethical hacker relevant and in demand. The current number is low, but the scope for opportunities is on the rise. Cyber Security is a booming industry, and so is the need for application security. With new threats, companies need security experts now more than ever.

It’s crucial to not engage in “black hat” hacking-that is,  attacking or intruding in anyone’s network without prior permission. If you are seriously considering a career as one, know that engaging in illegal activities will probably kill your chances as an ethical hacker. Many available opportunities are either with government-related organisations or multinational corporations, which require security clearances and polygraph testing. Even small companies tend to perform a basic background check. The thrill and quick money as a malicious hacker may seem exciting, but the consequences are grievous.

‘Ethical Hacker’ as a career has met with a lot of criticism, thanks to the misrepresentation by the media. There is a fine line between legal and illicit hacking. It is crucial you stay on the ethical side. Who knows, you might become the next Steve Wozniak?

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