In this article, we’ll discuss Getting started with ethical hacking ways even complete beginners with no security background can get into ethical hacking. If you’re considering ethical hacking as a career, we’ll discuss important education and experience considerations as you try to choose the right path that will lead you to the ethical hacking career that best suits you. We’ll also discuss a few careers that you should definitely consider when you get into ethical hacking.
What is Getting started with ethical hacking?
Ethical hacking involves discovering security issues (referred to as vulnerabilities) and disclosing them to affected parties in a responsible manner. The main difference between ethical or “white hat” hacking and unethical or “black hat” hacking is consent. In ethical hacking, the hacker is given permission to continue hacking activities while still maintaining a certain scope of attack. In unethical hacking, the hacker continues to hack without authorization and does not disclose the vulnerabilities found and may even exploit them for personal gain.
There are many methods you can use for ethical hacking, depending on your relationship with the client. Here are some of the most common methods:
In penetration testing, the hacker is given permission to follow a certain scope to discover vulnerabilities, exploit them in a controlled manner, and then document and present them to the client along with recommendations on how to fix the identified problems. Also included is a non-disclosure agreement that restricts the hacker from disclosing findings or private data to outside parties.
Bug bounty hunting
In bounty hunting, an ethical hacker adheres to a given scope and identifies previously unknown vulnerabilities and reports them to the vulnerable party participating in the bounty hunting program. Programs like these are good for beginning ethical hackers because they allow you to hone your work in a hands-on environment. Some bug bounty programs even offer monetary rewards for finding vulnerabilities.
Zero Day Research
This includes the discovery of vulnerabilities that no one has found before, which are referred to as zero days. Ethical hackers are required to report these zero days responsibly; however, some malicious hackers could also obtain zero-day information and exploit it for their own gain.
Some ethical hackers devote their time and effort to developing tools and resources that can be used to protect online systems from malicious attackers. Such tools can be used by other ethical hackers and, unfortunately, by malicious hackers.
What knowledge is required to become an ethical hacker?
Now that we have a rough idea of what ethical hacking is, let’s discuss what knowledge we need to have to become proficient ethical hackers.
Before you can consider yourself an ethical hacker or apply for ethical hacking jobs, there are many things you need to know. You will need to have a good command of the following:
You will need to at least understand how to read the code, if not write the code yourself. Some experts suggest that being a master coder makes you a better hacker, but there are plenty of master hackers who aren’t coders. However, the more you know about coding concepts, the better you will be able to conceptualize and think through issues related to certain hacking techniques and vulnerability detection.
You really should understand the basics of networking and how routing and switching is done. A firm grasp of the OSI layer is a must. You want to be able to understand how networks and network devices behave.
Why? Imagine being hired to break into a well-protected bank or government building. It wouldn’t be a good idea to not learn about the building’s network of corridors, ventilation systems and door lock systems before attempting to break in!
Most systems have a database underneath, which is where information is stored. You’ll want to know how to ask questions when you find yourself accessing a database when ethically hacking. Again, it’s important to understand the nuts and bolts of each type of system you’ll be paid to try to break into.
As you hack ethically, you will come across Windows, Linux and Mac OS. You may also be tasked with performing tests on mobile operating systems. So you’ll have to be comfortable flexing your hacking muscles around many different types of operating systems.
You should also understand that persistence and passion go a long way in becoming a great ethical hacker. Some situations require the chaining of different vulnerabilities to achieve a successful exploit, or patience to achieve results, such as during brute force.
Time and time again, successful professional ethical hackers will tell you to learn extensively about all aspects of computer networking. The more you know about the playing field and the many tools you have to use, the more flexible you can be when breaking into a system. Ethical hacking is only a partial process. Above all, it is a problem that can be solved by any available method.
How can I learn ethical hacking effectively?
This is a common question. Most beginners who get into ethical hacking don’t know where to get their knowledge or how to tell if the information is trustworthy. Nor have they developed a systematic way of studying. As such, they are bombarded with too much information and either get lost along the way or give up trying to study as much of the many topics as possible.
Here are some of the strategies newbies can use:
Identify your area of interest
The important thing is to choose a topic that interests you and learn it well. While you’re doing this, you’ll also want to know something about other topics.
For example, let’s say you’re interested in network penetration testing. You’ll want to look into wireless pentesting, reverse engineering, malware analysis, web application pentesting, and so on.
Follow the right people online
Ethical hackers are surprisingly honest with their information and research on social media. Many security professionals like to quickly publish their latest research work via Twitter. Others will create more detailed blog posts on Medium (a free platform that allows authors to share their work with greater social reach than personal blogs) in the form of tutorials that walk you through their methods used to uncover vulnerabilities. Follow this tag on Medium for some good examples.
Even better is meeting these professionals in person. If you are able to attend local or international conferences, you will be able to make contact with hackers that you can learn from.
Consistency is the name of the game. You will find that in ethical hacking, as in other areas of life, it remains being consistent in what you do will allow you to make the most progress. By spending time each day learning a new concept and practicing what you already know, you’ll become a master ethical hacker faster than you think.
Have the right motivation
Most seasoned ethical hackers will tell you that what motivated them to become the best they are was their passion. When your passion leads you to study ethical hacking, you realize that it becomes fun and that learning one thing makes you want to learn three related things. On the other hand, it’s much easier to quit when your only motivation is to make money from the activity. Truth be told, the money will come if you are good in your area of ethical hacking expertise.
Once you gain knowledge and feel confident enough in a certain area, you can decide to switch to another area or specialize in a previously completed area. It’s worth noting that learning the basics in different areas of ethical hacking can be quite beneficial, as these skills correlate within cybersecurity.
For example: You may find that in order to get remote code execution on a web server, you may be asked to reverse engineer, recompile, and upload a malicious binary. You will have combined skills gained from reverse engineering, programming and web application security.
The Infosec Ethical Hacking skills path will help you master a repeatable and documentable penetration testing methodology. Learn ethical hacking now.
Are there any required certifications I should consider?
There are several ethical hacking certifications that are in high demand. These certifications show employers that you truly understand a wide range of ethical hacking processes and practices. They also qualify you for more of certain types of jobs – we know for a fact that HR gatekeepers will reject candidates who don’t have certain credentials on their resumes.
Below are some certifications you should consider:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- Computer Hack Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
While it is true that certifications set you apart from the competition, it is also very true that organizations are now beginning to consider individuals who can demonstrate that their experience is more practical and practical. There have been numerous cases where certified hackers with a dozen certifications were unable to demonstrate the required hands-on skills in person, while the person who got the job was able to hack (and show what they did) during the interview.
What jobs can I consider as an ethical hacker?
Once you develop your ethical hacking skills and feel confident enough, you can now pursue the various career paths available depending on your acquired skills. Ethical hacking jobs are on the rise every day. Ethical hackers also sometimes hold jobs in related fields such as information security analyst, security engineer, and cyber security analyst. But of course, the career paths that really interest you are:
Penetration and vulnerability tester
This role requires a thorough understanding of how to conduct and exploit vulnerability assessments, systems, and how to properly document and communicate findings. Naturally, an understanding of pentesting methodologies is also key to this role.
The bounty hunter is missing
This career requires a thorough understanding of how systems and applications work. Once you understand this, you will be able to uncover vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that could lead to exploits where proper security measures have not been applied. Companies offer rewards for reporting vulnerabilities on platforms such as Intigriti, HackerOne and Bugcrowd.
This role is fairly advanced, but is also highly desirable for people who want to be extremely hands-on in uncovering vulnerabilities and helping companies strengthen their overall security posture. It requires you to be excellent (even at an expert level) in exploiting vulnerabilities and taking extreme measures in real-world scenarios to ensure you are able to demonstrate how bad actors can gain unauthorized access to organizations.
The most sought-after skills here include writing malware (capable of bypassing antivirus), hacking Wi-Fi, social engineering (including using your personality to convince a receptionist or night watchman to let you into a restricted area of a building), and offensive skills. such as creating rubber duck scripts.
It’s important to remember that new and emerging roles are being created daily in cybersecurity, and as an ethical hacker you won’t miss out. Take bug bounty hunting for example. According to this Bugcrowd report, 22 percent of hackers consider bounty hunting their full-time profession, while 77 percent have a full-time profession outside of bug hunting. 81 percent said their bug hunting experience helped them get a job, and 72 percent said bug hunting directly helped them get a job in cybersecurity.
In this article, we covered the basics of ethical hacking, looked at the knowledge needed to become a comfortable ethical hacker, and how to start learning to hack. We have also included some careers to encourage newcomers to study and gain as much knowledge as possible to fit into these professions.
The more knowledge you have in all areas, the more desirable you will be to employers. This is because you will be seen as someone who can handle a wide range of tasks, not just the items assigned to you. The way to rise up the ladder in any cybersecurity job is to be able to solve as many problems as possible, not just the ones that fall under your jurisdiction.
We hope this article gave you a good introduction to ethical hacking and encouraged you to explore further! If so, please explore this series further as it will contain dozens of quality articles that cover in detail many of the above topics that have only received basic coverage. Good luck and have fun!
- Ethical Hackers: Vacancies increase by 4% but demand outweighs supply threefold, Joblift
- How to Become an Ethical Hacker, Medium
- Inside the Mind of a Hacker, Bugcrowd