What is Ethical Hacking? A Comprehensive Guide [Updated] (2022)

The term ‘Hacker’ was coined to describe experts who used their skills to re-develop mainframe systems, increasing their efficiency and allowing them to multi-task. Nowadays, the term routinely describes skilled programmers who gain unauthorized access into computer systems by exploiting weaknesses or using bugs, motivated either by malice or mischief. For example, a hacker can create algorithms to crack passwords, penetrate networks, or even disrupt network services.

The primary motive of malicious/unethical hacking involves stealing valuable information or financial gain. However, not all hacking is bad. This brings us to the second type of hacking: Ethical hacking. So what is ethical hacking, and why do we need it? And in this article, you will learn all about what is ethical hacking and more.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is an authorized practice of detecting vulnerabilities in an application, system, or organization’s infrastructure and bypassing system security to identify potential data breaches and threats in a network.Ethical hackersaim to investigate the system or network for weak points that malicious hackers can exploit or destroy. They can improve the security footprint to withstand attacks better or divert them.

The company that owns the system or network allows Cyber Security engineers to perform such activities in order to test the system’s defenses. Thus, unlike malicious hacking, this process is planned, approved, and more importantly, legal.

(Video) All about Hacking | What to study, Packages, Job Opporutnities | Simply Explained

Ethical hackers aim to investigate the system or network for weak points that malicious hackers can exploit or destroy. They collect and analyze the information to figure out ways to strengthen the security of the system/network/applications. By doing so, they can improve the security footprint so that it can better withstand attacks or divert them.

Ethical hackers are hired by organizations to look into the vulnerabilities of their systems and networks and develop solutions to prevent data breaches. Consider it a high-tech permutation of the old saying “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”

They check for key vulnerabilities include but are not limited to:

  • Injection attacks
  • Changes in security settings
  • Exposure of sensitive data
  • Breach in authentication protocols
  • Components used in the system or network that may be used as access points

Now, as you have an idea of what is ethical hacking, it's time to learn the type of hackers.

(Video) A Comprehensive Guide to Ethical Hacking

What are the Different Types of Hackers?

The practice of ethical hacking is called “White Hat hacking, and those who perform it are called White Hat hackers. In contrast to Ethical Hacking, “Black Hat” hacking describes practices involving security violations. The Black Hat hackers use illegal techniques to compromise the system or destroy information.

Unlike White Hat hackers, “Grey Hat hackers don’t ask for permission before getting into your system. But Grey Hats are also different from Black Hats because they don’t perform hacking for any personal or third-party benefit. These hackers do not have any malicious intention and hack systems for fun or various other reasons, usually informing the owner about any threats they find. Grey Hat and Black Hat hacking are both illegal as they both constitute an unauthorized system breach, even though the intentions of both types of hackers differ.

White Hat Hacker vs Black Hat Hacker

The best way to differentiate between White Hat and Black Hat hackers is by taking a look at their motives. Black Hat hackers are motivated by malicious intent, manifested by personal gains, profit, or harassment; whereas White Hat hackers seek out and remedy vulnerabilities, so as to prevent Black Hats from taking advantage.

The other ways to draw a distinction between White Hat and Black Hat hackers include:

(Video) Complete Ethical Hacking Course (UPDATED) Learning to Hack

  • Techniques Used

    White Hat hackers duplicate the techniques and methods followed by malicious hackers in order to find out the system discrepancies, replicating all the latter’s steps to find out how a system attack occurred or may occur. If they find a weak point in the system or network, they report it immediately and fix the flaw.
  • Legality

    Even though White Hat hacking follows the same techniques and methods as Black Hat hacking, only one is legally acceptable. Black Hat hackers break the law by penetrating systems without consent.
  • Ownership

    White Hat hackers are employed by organizations to penetrate their systems and detect security issues. Black hat hackers neither own the system nor work for someone who owns it.

After understanding what is ethical hacking, the types of ethical hackers, and knowing the difference between white-hat and black-hat hackers, let's have a look at the ethical hacker roles and responsibilities.

What are the Roles and Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker?

Ethical Hackers must follow certain guidelines in order to perform hacking legally. A good hacker knows his or her responsibility and adheres to all of the ethical guidelines. Here are the most important rules of Ethical Hacking:

  • An ethical hacker must seek authorization from the organization that owns the system. Hackers should obtain complete approval before performing any security assessment on the system or network.
  • Determine the scope of their assessment and make known their plan to the organization.
  • Report any security breaches and vulnerabilities found in the system or network.
  • Keep their discoveries confidential. As their purpose is to secure the system or network, ethical hackers should agree to and respect their non-disclosure agreement.
  • Erase all traces of the hack after checking the system for any vulnerability. It prevents malicious hackers from entering the system through the identified loopholes.

Key Benefits of Ethical Hacking

Learning ethical hacking involves studying the mindset and techniques of black hat hackers and testers to learn how to identify and correct vulnerabilities within networks. Studying ethical hacking can be applied by security pros across industries and in a multitude of sectors. This sphere includes network defender, risk management, and quality assurance tester.

However, the most obvious benefit of learning ethical hacking is its potential to inform and improve and defend corporate networks. The primary threat to any organization's security is a hacker: learning, understanding, and implementing how hackers operate can help network defenders prioritize potential risks and learn how to remediate them best. Additionally, getting ethical hacking training or certifications can benefit those who are seeking a new role in the security realm or those wanting to demonstrate skills and quality to their organization.

(Video) Learn Ethical Hacking Full Course in 10 Hours 🔥 [Beginners to Advanced]

You understood what is ethical hacking, and the various roles and responsibilities of an ethical hacker, and you must be thinking about what skills you require to become an ethical hacker. So, let's have a look at some of the ethical hacker skills.

Skills Required to Become an Ethical Hacker

An ethical hacker should have in-depth knowledge about all the systems, networks, program codes, security measures, etc. to perform hacking efficiently. Some of these skills include:

  • Knowledge of programming - It is required for security professionals working in the field of application security and Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
  • Scripting knowledge - This is required for professionals dealing with network-based attacks and host-based attacks.
  • Networking skills - This skill is important because threats mostly originate from networks. You should know about all of the devices present in the network, how they are connected, and how to identify if they are compromised.
  • Understanding of databases - Attacks are mostly targeted at databases. Knowledge of database management systems such as SQL will help you to effectively inspect operations carried out in databases.
  • Knowledge of multiple platforms like Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.
  • The ability to work with different hacking tools available in the market.
  • Knowledge of search engines and servers.
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Conclusion

Ethical Hacking is a challenging area of study as it requires mastery of everything that makes up a system or network. This is why certifications have become popular among aspiring ethical hackers.

This article has helped you understand what is ethical hacking, and the roles and responsibilities of an ethical hacker. Now, if you are planning to step into the world of cybersecurity, you can easily jump in with the relevant Ethical Hacking certifications, and you can advance your career in cybersecurity in the following ways:

(Video) Ethical Hacking in 12 Hours - Full Course - Learn to Hack!

  • Certified individuals know how to design, build, and maintain a secure business environment. If you can demonstrate your knowledge in these areas, you will be invaluable when it comes to analyzing threats and devising effective solutions.
  • Certified cybersecurity professionals have better salary prospects compared to their non-certified peers. According to Payscale, Certified Ethical Hackers earn an average salary of $90K in the U.S.
  • Certification validates your skills in the field of IT security and makes you more noticeable while applying for challenging job roles.
  • With the growing incidents of security breaches, organizations are investing hugely in IT security and prefer certified candidates for their organization.
  • Startups need highly skilled professionals experienced in repelling cyber threats. A certification can help you demonstrate your IT security skills to earn high-paying jobs at startups.

In today’s world, cybersecurity has become a trending topic of increasing interest among many businesses. With malicious hackers finding newer ways to breach the defenses of networks almost every day, the role of ethical hackers has become increasingly important across all sectors. It has created a plethora of opportunities for cybersecurity professionals and has inspired individuals to take up ethical hacking as their career. So, if you have ever considered the possibilities of getting into the cybersecurity domain, or even just upskilling, this is the perfect time to do so. And of course, the most efficient way of accomplishing this is by getting certified in ethical hacking, and the best way to do that is to let Simplilearn help you achieve it! Check out Simplilearn's Certified Ethical Hacking Course now, and join the fight for secure systems!

What is Ethical Hacking? A Comprehensive Guide [Updated] (1)

FAQs

What is ethical hacking hacking? ›

Definition. Ethical hacking involves an authorized attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer system, application, or data. Carrying out an ethical hack involves duplicating strategies and actions of malicious attackers.

What is ethical hacking Mcq? ›

The term "Ethical Hacking" means someone who is using his/her skills for defensive purposes.

What are the 5 stages of ethical hacking? ›

The Five Phases of Ethical Hacking
  • Reconnaissance. Reconnaissance, also known as the preparatory phase, is where the hacker gathers information about a target before launching an attack and is completed in phases prior to exploiting system vulnerabilities. ...
  • Scanning. ...
  • Gain Access. ...
  • Maintain Access. ...
  • Cover Tracks.
15 Feb 2022

What is hacking in Class 11? ›

Definition: Hacking is an attempt to exploit a computer system or a private network inside a computer. Simply put, it is the unauthorised access to or control over computer network security systems for some illicit purpose.

Why is ethical hacking important? ›

The primary benefit of ethical hacking is to prevent data from being stolen and misused by malicious attackers, as well as: Discovering vulnerabilities from an attacker's POV so that weak points can be fixed. Implementing a secure network that prevents security breaches.

Where is ethical hacking used? ›

You will find ethical hackers employed across a wide range of industries and government agencies, from big technology and internet companies to law enforcement agencies — and even in the military where Cyber Command plays an increasingly important role in the defense of the nation.

What are the basics of hacking? ›

In basic terms, hacking is the process of gaining unauthorised access to data that's held on a computer, system or network. Hackers, or those who practice hacking, will access systems in a way that the creator or holder did not intend.

What is first phase of hacking? ›

1. Reconnaissance: This is the first step of Hacking. It is also called as Footprinting and information gathering Phase.

What is hacking in computer terms? ›

A commonly used hacking definition is the act of compromising digital devices and networks through unauthorized access to an account or computer system. Hacking is not always a malicious act, but it is most commonly associated with illegal activity and data theft by cyber criminals.

What are the 7 types of hackers? ›

Types Of Hackers
  • White Hat / Ethical Hackers.
  • Black Hat Hackers.
  • Gray Hat Hackers.
  • Script Kiddies.
  • Green Hat Hackers.
  • Blue Hat Hackers.
  • Red Hat Hackers.
  • State/Nation Sponsored Hackers.
26 Aug 2022

What is hacking for a cause called? ›

This paper explores the concept of hacktivism, which is hacking for a political or social cause on the Internet.

Who is the No 1 hacker in world? ›

Kevin Mitnick
Kevin Mitnick speaking at Cyber Incursion event 2018. He spoke about social engineering and its risks for users.
BornKevin David Mitnick August 6, 1963 Van Nuys, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Other namesThe Condor, The Darkside Hacker
7 more rows

What are the 3 types of hackers? ›

There are three well-known types of hackers in the world of information security: black hats, white hats and grey hats. These colored hat descriptions were born as hackers tried to differentiate themselves and separate the good hackers from the bad.

Is hacking easy? ›

The short answer: almost anyone can learn to hack. The longer answer is that it's a good fit for people with specific backgrounds and personality types. People who have some knowledge of computer programming and a baseline vocabulary to draw on would thrive in these learning environments.

What is ethical hacking introduction? ›

Ethical hacking is to scan vulnerabilities and to find potential threats on a computer or networks. An ethical hacker finds the weak points or loopholes in a computer, web applications or network and reports them to the organization. So, let's explore more about Ethical Hacking step-by-step.

Who is the best ethical hacker in the world? ›

Today, he is a trusted, highly sought-after security consultant to Fortune 500 and governments worldwide. Kevin Mitnick is the world's authority on hacking, social engineering, and security awareness training. In fact, the world's most used computer-based end-user security awareness training suite bears his name.

How many types of ethical hacking are there? ›

Pre-attack scanning, port monitoring, and information retrieval are the three types of scanning available. One may exploit the system's flaws in many ways via each of these steps, which show the hacker what they can do.

What are the tools needed for hacking? ›

Some of the most famous hacking tools in the market are Nmap (Network Mapper), Nessus, Nikto, Kismet, NetStumbler, Acunetix, Netsparker, and Intruder, Nmap, Metasploit, Aircrack-Ng, etc.

Which language is important for ethical hacking? ›

The C programming language is suitable for ethical hacking as it helps access memory and system processes. Ethical hackers use C to reverse engineer, simulate a cyberattack, then gain access as if a system breach occurred.

What do hackers study? ›

An individual planning to become a hacker will need to learn about programming, which is considered to be a vital step. A variety of software programs are now available that make hacking easier, however, if you want to know how it is done, you will definitely need to have basic knowledge about programming.

Where can I learn hacking? ›

Top free ethical hacking courses online
  • Fundamentals of Computer Hacking – Udemy. ...
  • Introduction to Ethical Hacking – Great Learning. ...
  • Ethical Hacking – Basics (Kali 2021) – Udemy. ...
  • Learn Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Online – Udemy. ...
  • Edureka Cyber Security course. ...
  • Penetration Testing – Discovering Vulnerabilities.
18 Jan 2022

What are the three types of scanning? ›

Scanning is primarily of three types. These are network scanning, port scanning, and vulnerability scanning.

How do hackers cover their tracks? ›

Using common channels and protocols. Like trusted platforms and brands, encrypted channels, ports, and protocols used by legitimate applications provide another way for attackers to mask their footsteps.

How do criminals plan attacks? ›

Criminals plan passive and active attacks. Active attacks are usually used to alter the system, whereas passive attacks attempt to gain information about the target. Active attacks may affect the availability, integrity and authenticity of data whereas passive attacks lead to breaches of confidentiality.

What is the another name of hacking? ›

In this page you can discover 20 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for hacker, like: hackers, botnet, spammers, hacking, wardrivers, drudge, rootkits, spammer, malicious, spyware and phishing.

What are the effects of hacking? ›

What are things that a hacker can do to me?
  • Hijack your usernames and passwords.
  • Steal your money and open credit card and bank accounts in your name.
  • Ruin your credit.
  • Request new account Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or additional credit cards.
  • Make purchases.

What software prevents hackers? ›

Firewalls. A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that blocks hackers from entering and using your computer. Hackers search the internet the way some telemarketers automatically dial random phone numbers.

Is being a hacker hard? ›

Computer security is becoming more and more advanced, and computer systems are complicated, so it is a more difficult task to attack or intrude into well-established computer networks. In this respect, hacking is more difficult and requires greater expertise compared to 20 years ago.

Which type of hacker is best? ›

White hat hackers are the good guys of the hacker world. These people use the same technique used by the black hat hackers. They also hack the system, but they can only hack the system that they have permission to hack in order to test the security of the system. They focus on security and protecting IT system.

What are the type of hacking stages? ›

Scanning: This phase includes the usage of tools like dialers, port scanners, network mappers, sweepers, and vulnerability scanners to scan data. Hackers are now probably seeking any information that can help them perpetrate attacks such as computer names, IP addresses, and user accounts.

Which type of hacker represents the highest risk? ›

Which type of hacker represents the highest risk to your network? Answer 6. Option A. Explanation: Disgruntled employees have information which can allow them to launch a powerful attack.

What are the different phases of attacks? ›

The three phases are objective, reconnaissance, and attack.

Is hacking illegal? ›

Unauthorized computer access, popularly referred to as hacking, describes a criminal action whereby someone uses a computer to knowingly gain access to data in a system without permission to access that data. Hacking is illegal under both California and federal law, and can result in heavy penalties.

What country has the most hackers? ›

Top 10 countries where security hackers come from & their types
​20132016​2019
1. China - Approx 41.4%1. China - 27.24%1. China
2. U.S.A. - 10%2. USA - 17.12%2. Brazil
​3. Turkey - 4.8%​3. Turkey - 10.24%​3. Russia
​4. Russia - 4.4%​4. Brazil - 8.6%​4. Poland
8 more rows
22 Jul 2021

Who hacked NASA? ›

McKinnon was accused of hacking into 97 United States military and NASA computers over a 13-month period between February 2001 and March 2002, at the house of his girlfriend's aunt in London, using the name 'Solo'.

Has Google ever been hacked? ›

Gmail or Google account is one of the most popular and widely used email services and that's what makes it the prime target for hackers. Despite having the best-in-class security and safety features on offer by Google, we have seen cases where Google accounts were hacked in the past.

What are legal hackers called? ›

A white hat (or a white-hat hacker, a whitehat) is an ethical security hacker. Ethical hacking is a term meant to imply a broader category than just penetration testing.

Who is a red hat hacker? ›

In short, red hats are the types of hackers who often choose to take aggressive steps to stop black hat hackers. They're known to launch full-scale attacks to bring down the bad guys' servers and destroy their resources.

Are hackers intelligent? ›

The simple answer is, yes, they are. The very definition of a hacker is that you find new and innovative ways to attack systems – their very job is to get smarter.

Can I learn hacking at home? ›

The simple answer to this question is yes. You can learn ethical hacking on your own. However, it is a field that requires quite a high level of expertise that will only come from practice and experience.

Is hacking a good career? ›

A. Yes, it is a good career if you are interested in the ethical hacking and cybersecurity field but it requires a great knowledge of the whole IT field.

Can you hack Siri? ›

Hackers could use malicious ultrasonic waves to secretly control the voice assistants in your smart devices,” he said. “It can be activated using phrases like, 'OK Google' or 'Hey Siri,' as wake-up words.

What are the 7 types of hackers? ›

Types Of Hackers
  • White Hat / Ethical Hackers.
  • Black Hat Hackers.
  • Gray Hat Hackers.
  • Script Kiddies.
  • Green Hat Hackers.
  • Blue Hat Hackers.
  • Red Hat Hackers.
  • State/Nation Sponsored Hackers.
26 Aug 2022

What are the 3 types of hackers? ›

There are three well-known types of hackers in the world of information security: black hats, white hats and grey hats. These colored hat descriptions were born as hackers tried to differentiate themselves and separate the good hackers from the bad.

Who is the No 1 hacker in world? ›

Kevin Mitnick
Kevin Mitnick speaking at Cyber Incursion event 2018. He spoke about social engineering and its risks for users.
BornKevin David Mitnick August 6, 1963 Van Nuys, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Other namesThe Condor, The Darkside Hacker
7 more rows

Is ethical hacking legal? ›

So, is ethical hacking legal? Yes, It is legal as long as it is done with the owner's permission to find loopholes in the system and offer solutions to improve it. Also, it protects the system from further damage caused by the hacker. Various institutions provide many accredited hacking courses.

What software prevents hackers? ›

Firewalls. A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that blocks hackers from entering and using your computer. Hackers search the internet the way some telemarketers automatically dial random phone numbers.

What are good hackers called? ›

White hat hackers – sometimes also called “ethical hackers” or “good hackers” – are the antithesis of black hats. They exploit computer systems or networks to identify their security flaws so they can make recommendations for improvement.

What do hackers study? ›

An individual planning to become a hacker will need to learn about programming, which is considered to be a vital step. A variety of software programs are now available that make hacking easier, however, if you want to know how it is done, you will definitely need to have basic knowledge about programming.

What is the full meaning of hacker? ›

Definition of hacker

1 : one that hacks. 2 : a person who is inexperienced or unskilled at a particular activity a tennis hacker. 3 : an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer. 4 : a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system.

What country has the most hackers? ›

Top 10 countries where security hackers come from & their types
​20132016​2019
1. China - Approx 41.4%1. China - 27.24%1. China
2. U.S.A. - 10%2. USA - 17.12%2. Brazil
​3. Turkey - 4.8%​3. Turkey - 10.24%​3. Russia
​4. Russia - 4.4%​4. Brazil - 8.6%​4. Poland
8 more rows
22 Jul 2021

Who hacked NASA? ›

McKinnon was accused of hacking into 97 United States military and NASA computers over a 13-month period between February 2001 and March 2002, at the house of his girlfriend's aunt in London, using the name 'Solo'.

Is hacking easy? ›

The short answer: almost anyone can learn to hack. The longer answer is that it's a good fit for people with specific backgrounds and personality types. People who have some knowledge of computer programming and a baseline vocabulary to draw on would thrive in these learning environments.

Is being a hacker a job? ›

The white-hat hacker is a cybersecurity professional hired to find vulnerabilities in software, hardware and networks that may be susceptible to attack, report on those vulnerabilities and often play a role in securing such weak spots.

Is ethical hacking hard? ›

Becoming an ethical hacker is simple but not easy. There are various things you have to learn with a programming language and tools to help you in the field. In addition, hacking is ever-changing, and you need to keep up with the trends and tools being used.

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