Every tech geek is fantasized about the idea of hacking. It is exciting and has grown to become an important profession in the tech world.
Hacking: Legal or Not?
Since the beginning of it, hacking has been portrayed as a crime. Whenever we hear about ‘hacking’, we picture someone sitting in a dark room and typing rapidly only to destroy something. We only have motion pictures to blame for this. It is important to understand that hacking is only illegal if it is done without authorization. The hackers who do this are known as black hat hackers. Whereas, on the other hand, hacking is also done legally. This type of hacking is known as ‘Ethical Hacking’.
There is a growing popularity among working professionals to learn ethical hacking. A wide range of hacking tutorials over the internet supports that fact. Let us not wait and dive deeper into the world of Ethical Hacking.
Ethical Hacking: What and Why?
In layman’s terms, Ethical hacking is the legal attempt to crack into a particular network or networks to find vulnerabilities even before a black hat hacker does.
The world of hackers evolves every minute with them getting smarter and more persistent. Over 30000 websites are hacked every day as per estimation. It only shows us that the scale of modern hacking and how the business of all sizes are easily prone to it.
A dedicated black hat hacker will not stop at any cost to get what they want.
As these dangers are unavoidable involuntarily, it is vital that companies are adequately defending against such hacking. This anxiety from the companies is a direct fuel for the growing interest and popularity in the field of ethical hacking.
Ethical hacking is not completely different from black hat hacking. An ethical hacker does the same thing a black hat hacker would do to compromise the system and to break down their cyber defences. The only difference is that an ethical hacker will inform the business or company about how they managed to do it. He/She will mimic a genuine cyberattack that a black hat hacker would carry out on the system.
This helps the business to know about the vulnerabilities and the loopholes in their system beforehand.
Food for thought: Some of the most prominent and skilled ethical hackers started with black hat hacking.
Ethical Hacking: Types
Every component of the system is vulnerable to getting hacked. Hence, we have different types of ethical hacking. Some of them are:
- System Hacking: In this type, the system and its software are compromised to access the target computer.
- Web Server Hacking: In this type, the webserver is hacked to steal passwords and other delicate business information.
- Web Application Hacking: Web applications act as an interface between the client and the server. There are a client and server-side vulnerabilities which lead to Web application hacking.
- Wireless Network Hacking: In this type of hacking, a local wireless network is compromised
- Social Engineering: In this type, psychological manipulation is used to trick the victim into giving away sensitive information.
Ethical Hacking: Phases
Ethical Hacking, like any other discipline, has some guidelines that have to be followed. These are not strict rules but it is recommended to follow them.
- Reconnaissance: This is the initial phase in which information is gathered regarding the target system. This includes collecting information about IP configuration, Operating Systems, Services, etc. There are two types of Reconnaissance: active and passive. In an active reconnaissance, the hacker directly interacts with the target system to gather information. There is a risk of getting detected but the information gathered is relevant and accurate. In passive reconnaissance, the hacker gathers information indirectly, i.e., without interacting with the target system.
- Scanning: This is the phase where the perpetrator actively probes the system to find and exploit vulnerabilities.
- Gaining Access: In this phase, the hacker tries to gain access to the system with the vulnerability located. The hacker tries to do this without raising an alarm.
- Maintaining Access: It is one of the most important phases in the process. The hacker tries to install several payloads and backdoors into the system in this phase. The ‘payload’ is a term used to describe the activities the hacker performs on the system. A backdoor helps the hacker to gain easy and quick access in the future.
- Clearing Tracks: Although illegal, Ethical hackers have to clear their tracks to demonstrate how any black hat hacker would perform a complete hack.
- Reporting: This is the final step in the process of ethical hacking. The ethical hacker compiles a report that constitutes details like, vulnerabilities found, tools used, success rate and exploit processes and submits it to the client.
An ethical hacker requires a level of secrecy in order to do their job efficiently. Thus, they are mostly hired by business management without letting their staff or cyber security teams know about it. This helps the ethical hacker to function just like a black hat hacker and perform his hack well.
Ethical hacking is a creative and challenging profession. As rightly said by Jay Bavisi, President of EC-Council Group, “We need ethical hackers more today than ever before”. The job perspective in IT Security is expected to grow by 32% from 2018 to 2028. Hence, It is one of the careers of the future.
We have reached the end of this ethical hacking tutorial which is just a basic introduction to what it is all about. Check out this free ethical hacking course online to dive deep into the world of hacking and learn more about it.