What is cybersecurity and ethical hacking?
What pops in your mind when you come across the words cyber security and ethical hacking? Well, cyber security is the process of protecting the organization’s systems and networks from external attacks. The protection mechanism, i.e. cyber security and ethical hacking, maintains integrity, confidentiality, and availability. The attacks involve hacking through malicious software (malware), trojan Horse, virus, among others.
Why cyber security?
The world is living in a space controlled by technology. Advanced technologies are used to control critical systems such as digital transactions, hospitals, power plants, etc. Cyber security and ethical hacking are required to protect these systems since a simple compromise can be catastrophic.
Cyber security attacks and crisis
Cyber security is often one of the biggest challenges facing large organizations such as banks, IT companies, and government agencies. This does not mean people should not be concerned about their security level. A data breach can leak personal information such as credit card numbers, health information, among others.
The number of cyber security attacks in the world is still rampant. The rise in numbers is facilitated by the increased number of computing devices, increased computing power (Processor, RAM, and internet speed), and well as the development of sophisticated hacking tools. Nevertheless, the discussion forums and hacking websites in the dark web have a part to play in the upsurge.
Globally, cybersecurity spending is anticipated to reach &134;.8 billion in 2022. This means that approximately 68% of SMEs and Large-Scale corporations will be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In 2019, the attacks exposed approximately $4.1 billion records in less than six months. Approximately 70% of the attacks were financially targeted, and 26% were motivated by espionage. Nevertheless, 50% involved hacking, 28% used malware, and 32% involved phishing or social engineering. The above statics is a clear indication that cybersecurity is a threat in the current epoch.
Types of Cybersecurity attacks
The cyber security has taken different forms globally. Depending on the target machine or user, the hacking tool’s user might employ renowned methods. The common cyber-attacks include phishing, DDoS, Malware, Spamming, Ransomware, password attacks, social engineering, rootkits, and SQL injections.
What is Hacking?
Basically, hacking is any form of bypassing the security protocols within the organization. The hacking process does not need to be necessary through the internet. The breach might take a physical form such as accessing a file cabinet or entering the server room. The person who bypasses the security system is called a hacker, and the act is called hacking.
Then What is Ethical Hacking?
There are three categories of hacking: black hat hacking, ethical hacking, and grey hacking.
Black hat hacking involves penetration of the systems without an organization’s permission or authorization. This kind of attack is offensive, and the actors should be prosecuted for their actions.
Ethical hacking or ‘penetration testing’ is quite the opposite of black hat. Ethical hacking contains the word “ethical” meaning it is acceptable and professional. The ethical hacker is permitted by an organization to conduct pen testing and determine how secure the system is from external attacks. The professional then develops a security report containing loopholes found in the system and possible solutions to fix the vulnerability. Ethical hacking is the most recommended type of profession in security engineering.
The grey hat hacking is a combination of both ethical hacking and black hat hacking. In this type of condition, the hacker might be employed by an organization to conduct pen-testing. On the other hand, the professional might discover loopholes and exploit the system without authorization. This is not professional; rather, it is a selfish act with the hacker being concern about their affairs.
How is Penetration Testing Done?
Pen-test or penetration-testing is done using the same procedures a possible black hat hacker might follow to attack a network. This means using techniques such as phishing, social engineering, password cracking, SQL injection, or DNS spoofing. Nevertheless, the same tools that a hacker might use are also employed during pen-testing inclusive of Reaver, Nmap, Burp Suite, Metasploitable, Aircrack, among others.
Role of ethical hacking in cyber security.
Ethical hacking plays an essential role in scanning networks and systems in cybersecurity. As mentioned earlier, ethical hackers are paid to pen-test a system and discover a vulnerability. The scanning might be on a new system or an existing system that needs updates on new security techniques. The new security features must include patch updates and application of password policies. Especially, the change of password on a weekly basis. Nevertheless, the ethical hacking report plays a vital role in fixing the key areas which are vulnerable to attacks.
Giving the contracts to an ethical hacker is accompanied by significant benefits to the organization. First and foremost, ethical hacking helps in minimizing losses. The routine scanning of the systems helps in discovering loopholes which the hackers might be using to steal from the organizations. Nevertheless, ethical hacking increases system availability. Ethical hackers ensure that computer’s downtimes are minimized by preventing DDoS attacks. Additionally, ethical hacking safeguards organizational data and integrity. A mere breach in the client’s information can lead to loss of trust.
Generally, ethical hacking has to come to the rescue of increased cyber-attacks which could not be possible if there were no security experts. In simple terms, “use a thief to catch a thief”, meaning that the organization should use white hat hackers to catch a black hat hacker. Ethical hackers can understand the current hacking tools and their usage, which ordinary network administrators might not be conversant with. Hence, ethical hacking acts as a point of contact with the dark side of hacking.
How to Learn Ethical Hacking
There are many online classes teaching about ethical hacking inclusive of Udemy, Cisco, YouTube channels, among others. Given that there is no specific age that ethical hackers must attain, if a person is interested in the career path, they might as well start as early as possible. However, there are fundamental skillset the ethical hackers must have and their respective certifications.
- Basic Linux commands, file systems architecture, and tools
- Networking trafficking and sniffing (Wireshark)
- Orchestrate various network attacks
- Exploit buffer
- SQL injection
- Password cracking and brute force (Reaver)
- Session hijacking and spoofing (Rootkits)
- DNS spoofing
Ethical hackers can have one or more of the following certifications: –
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Global Information Assurance Certification Penetration Tester
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
How can organizations use ethical hacking to their advantage?
Having a grasp of the role of ethical hackers, organizations should enjoy the benefits by hiring the professionals. The hiring might be a contract based or full-time basis depending on how critical data is in an organization. For organizations adopting a contract, the check-up should be made a routine that might be weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
The organization’s security team should always work hand in hand with ethical hackers to improve information security. The interactions should also include boot camps where ethical hackers can teach the team on the basics of using tools and Linux’s shell commands.
Prevention is better than cure. The management should invest a lot in cybersecurity and ethical hacking rather than taking the risk by waiting for an attack to happen. The cost of hiring a cybersecurity expert is relatively lower than the damage caused in case of an attack.
The rising cyber-attacks required experienced and updated ethical hackers to keep up with dynamic technology and vulnerabilities. If the world is thinking about superheroes to save them from cyber threats, then most organizations should think of ethical hackers for their rescue.