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How to Become an Ethical Hacker?

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Introduction

The word ‘hacker’ originally defined a skilled programmer proficient in machine code and computer operating systems. Today, a ‘hacker’ is a person who consistently engages in hacking activities and has accepted hacking as a lifestyle and philosophy of their choice. Hacking is the practice of modifying the features of a system to accomplish a goal outside of the creator’s original purpose.

Ready to dive into ethical hacking? Learn the essentials with our guide on “How to Become an Ethical Hacker.” Start your journey now for a rewarding career in cybersecurity.

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Role of Ethical Hacking

The term ‘hacking’ has very negative connotations, but that’s only until the role of an ethical hacker is fully understood. Ethical hackers are the good guys of the hacking world who wear the “white hat”. So, what does the role of an ethical hacker entail? Instead of using their advanced computer knowledge for nefarious activities, ethical hackers identify weaknesses in data computer security for businesses and organizations across the globe to protect them from hackers with less honest motives.

Ethical hackers play a crucial role in cybersecurity, aiming to prevent unauthorized access and cyber threats proactively. Operating within the realm of ethical hacking, their objective is to identify and address vulnerabilities in a business’s network before malicious actors exploit them. Employed in various roles, such as simulated offensive cybersecurity specialists or in-house security personnel, these experts ensure company and client data protection, particularly in sectors like banking. Regardless of their specific focus, ethical hackers need proficiency in current attack tactics and tools to secure digital assets effectively.

 

Why is Ethical Hacking Important?

If you’re a professional who appreciates the joys of the world of computers and relishes a challenge, then a career in ethical hacking can be an enticing prospect. You can use your skills to break into computer systems and get paid well. Like many careers, getting started in the field is difficult, but if you put in the effort, you can shape a very lucrative career. Besides, ethical hackers are always on the right side of the law!

 

Phases of Ethical Hacking

There are five main phases of ethical hacking:

 

  • Surveillance: The first phase of ethical hacking is surveillance, which involves gathering information about the target system or network. This information can be gathered from various sources, including public records, social media, and internal documents.

 

  • Scanning: Once the ethical hacker has gathered information about the target, they will begin scanning the system or network for vulnerabilities. This can be done using a variety of tools, such as port scanners, vulnerability scanners, and network scanners.

 

  • Gaining Access: Once the ethical hacker has identified a vulnerability, they will attempt to exploit it to gain access to the system or network. This can be done using a variety of techniques, such as social engineering, password cracking, and zero-day attacks.

 

  • Maintaining Access: Once the ethical hacker has gained access to the system or network, they will attempt to maintain access for as long as possible. This can be done by installing malware, creating backdoors, and escalating privileges.

 

  • Covering Tracks: After the ethical hacker has completed their testing, they will attempt to cover their tracks and remove any evidence of their activity. This can be done by deleting logs, removing malware, and restoring any modified files.

ethical-hacker

 

How to Become an Ethical Hacker Step by Step

  1. Get Comfortable with LINUX/UNIX:
  • Learn about a secure computer system called LINUX/UNIX.

 

  • Know popular versions like Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Kali Linux made for hacking.

 

  1. Start with C Programming:
  • Learn C, a primary programming language.

 

  • Also, pick up Python, JavaScript, PHP, and SQL for different hacking needs.

 

  1. Stay Hidden Online:
  • Keep your identity secret using tools like Anonsurf and Proxychains.

 

  1. Understand Computer Networks:
  • Know how computers connect (TCP/IP, Subnetting, CIDR).

 

  • Learn tools like Nmap and Wireshark.

 

  1. Explore the Hidden Internet:
  • Check out the dark web using Tor, but be careful.

 

  1. Learn About Secret Codes:
  • Understand encryption (keeping things secret).

 

  • Figure out how to break secret codes.

 

  1. Study Advanced Hacking:
  • Go deeper into hacking with things like SQL injections and testing for weaknesses.

 

  1. Find and Use Weak Points:
  • Use tools in Kali Linux (Nessus, OpenVAS, Nikto, Nmap) to find weak points.

 

  • Learn how to use weaknesses to your advantage.

 

  1. Practice Hacking Skills:
  • Try out hacking in different situations.

 

  • Test different ways to hack and get better.

 

  1. Join Hacker Groups:
  • Talk with other hackers on platforms like Discord and Facebook.

 

  • Learn from experienced hackers and share what you know.

 

What Are the Stages of a Career in Ethical Hacking?

Patience is a skill you need to cultivate if you want to embark on a career as an ethical hacker. You can’t expect to secure an exceptionally high-ranking job and earn a large salary right from the beginning, but there is immense potential to achieve both quickly!

 

  1. Starting Out

Ethical hackers typically start by earning a computer science degree or obtaining CompTIA’s A+ certification, requiring hands-on skills and 500 hours of practical experience, with an average salary of $44,000. Career progression involves gaining experience and securing certifications like Network+ and CCNA for foundational network knowledge and expertise in network management.

 

  1. Network Support

After qualification, the following career stage in network support involves monitoring, updating, installing security programs, and testing for weaknesses. Building expertise in network security is crucial, aiming to progress to the role of a network engineer. Consider enhancing your skills with the Certified Ethical Hacking Course to counteract cyber threats effectively.

 

  1. Network Engineer

With experience in network support, earnings can rise to the $60,000-65,000 range. Transitioning to network design, your focus shifts to security, requiring certifications like Security+, CISSP, or TICSA, approved by the US Department of Defense. These certifications cover critical security topics, including access control, identity management, and cryptography, and can pave the way for a role in information security.

 

  1. Working in Information Security

Transitioning to Information Security marks a crucial step in becoming an ethical hacker, with an average salary of $69,000. Information security analysts focus on system and network security, addressing breaches, and implementing security measures. Penetration testing is emphasized for hands-on experience, and obtaining a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification from the EC Council is recommended, providing comprehensive training and immersion in ethical hacking practices. This certification enables professionals to market themselves as proficient ethical hackers.

 

Can You Become an Ethical Hacker without a Degree

The best way to become an ethical hacker without computer science knowledge is to earn a degree. One can:

 

  • Obtain an IT security certification

 

  • Obtain an IT security certification, enroll in a four-year computer science school

 

  • Enroll in a two-year program primarily concentrating on IT analysis and security

 

How to Gain Experience as an Ethical Hacker?

Ethical hackers should acquaint themselves with vulnerability testing tools like Metasploit, OpenVAS, and Nessus for effective vulnerability scanning. Progress to simulated manual attacks on targets to practice ethical hacking techniques. Resolve vulnerable machines on platforms like Hack The Box and Vulnhub to advance from basic to advanced concepts in system and network vulnerabilities. Move on to bug bounty platforms for real-life scenario practice, and eventually, challenge yourself by hacking on live, secure environments where real websites employ robust security measures. This progression helps ethical hackers hone their skills in practical and diverse settings.

Pursuing a career as an ethical hacker usually begins as an organization’s security team member extending defensive security services. Proficiency and good performance can lead to a higher position as an ethical hacker through the ranks of the department:

security specialist security administrator security software developer

Knowledge of social engineering and physical penetration tests helps understand the threatscape, reach top positions, and acquire experience. Several attacks begin with intel gathered via extended social engineering campaigns.

 

Best Practices for Becoming an Ethical Hacker

To become an ethical hacker, follow these best practices:

 

  • Hone your skills by practicing hacking with tools like Kali Linux, Metasploit Framework, and Nmap.

 

  • Test your capabilities on diverse targets, including firewalls, routers, and switches.

 

  • Continuously improve by conducting penetration tests and vulnerability analyses to refine your abilities.

 

  • Build connections with other hackers to gain valuable information and share experiences for professional growth.

 

Average Salary of Ethical Hackers

According to surveys, workers’ wages vary significantly across countries. The top five countries, in terms of average worker wages, are expected to increase by 20% as compared to 2023.

average-salary-of-ethical-hacker

 

Conclusion

Ethical hacking is a challenging but rewarding career path that requires dedication and continuous learning. By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can develop the necessary skills and knowledge to become a valuable asset in the cybersecurity field. Ethical hackers play a crucial role in protecting our digital world, and their work is essential for maintaining a safe and secure online environment.

 

FAQs

 

  1. What Are the Stages of a Career in Ethical Hacking?

  • Foundation: Acquire foundational knowledge in computer science, networking, and security. Often involves obtaining certifications like A+ and Network+.

 

  • Network Support: Gain experience in network support, understanding system vulnerabilities, and preparing for roles in network design.

 

  • Information Security Analyst: Transition into information security, focusing on system and network security. Obtain certifications such as Security+, CISSP, or TICSA.

 

  1. Why is Ethical Hacking Important?

  • Identifying Vulnerabilities: Ethical hacking helps organizations identify and address vulnerabilities in their systems and networks before malicious hackers can exploit them.

 

  • Enhancing Security Measures: By simulating real-world attacks, ethical hackers assist in improving and strengthening security measures, ensuring robust protection against cyber threats.

 

  • Compliance and Risk Management: Ethical hacking supports compliance with industry regulations and helps manage and mitigate risks associated with potential security breaches.

 

  1. What Is the Attraction of an Ethical Hacking Career?

  • Challenging and Dynamic Work: Ethical hacking involves constant challenges and dynamic scenarios, keeping professionals engaged and continuously learning.

 

  • Contribution to Cybersecurity: Ethical hackers contribute directly to strengthening cybersecurity defenses, positively protecting organizations and individuals from cyber threats.

 

  • High Demand for Skills: With the increasing frequency of cyber-attacks, there is a high demand for skilled, ethical hackers, leading to lucrative career opportunities.

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