Today we will learn about The ultimate guide to ethical hacking.
Penetration testing and ethical hacking are often used interchangeably when people talk about networks and cybersecurity. Currently, the demand for cybersecurity professionals such as ethical hackers and penetration testers greatly exceeds the supply.
This is great news for anyone who wants to learn about various hacking techniques and work towards becoming a cyber security professional. Understanding why ethical hacking is important and how it differs from malicious or criminally motivated hacking is an important first step for anyone looking to pursue a career in cybersecurity.
This ultimate guide to ethical hacking will help you get started and give you recommendations on what to look for as you learn and practice. Ethical hacking requires a lot of discipline, both in terms of technique and learning, so it is vital that anyone considering this career path takes it very seriously and gives it the relevant time and resources it deserves. It can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding profession.
Who is The ultimate guide to ethical hacking?
Anyone interested in ethical hacking and cyber security! If you’re interested in learning ethical hacking techniques, ethical hacking educational opportunities, or just want some ethical hacking tips and tricks, then you’ll want to keep reading.
We’ll answer some burning questions you might have about the profession, as well as what educational path you should consider as a penetration tester or ethical hacker. Here are some frequently asked questions about ethical hacking and pentesting.
What are the different types of hackers?
There are several general terms that people use to distinguish between hacker groups, including:
Script kiddies: You can think of this group of hackers as a class of ‘wannabes‘. They generally won’t have much practical hacking knowledge of their own. They won’t understand how to write their own code, how different architectures interact, or how specific networks work. Instead, they rely on off-the-shelf apps and software copies.
Green Hat Hackers: These are novice hackers with limited knowledge about the subject. Evidence of their activities can often be found on forums and social networks where they ask basic questions that could be easily researched. They also use pre-made tools and apps, but unlike Script Kiddies, they will try to understand what they are doing and learn from their activities. For example, a green hat hacker might try to learn how to crack passwords.
White Hat Hackers: These are the good guys of the internet. If you take a hacking course or a penetration testing course, you can become one. They hold high-paying positions as security analysts, penetration testers, and security specialists. They are able to thwart the advances of cybercriminals because they understand the methodologies used to break into a computer system or network. They act decisively and within the legal frameworks and corporate policies they have been given to follow.
Black hat hackers: These are cybercriminals and are often responsible for data breaches and security hacks, creating malware and distributing worms and viruses. They use their extensive knowledge of computer systems to gain unauthorized access, where they maliciously attack networks, steal information and extort money through extortion and ransomware. They also commit credit card fraud and bank fraud.
Gray hat hackers: They are not generally criminals, but they understand the methods used by black hat hackers and are not afraid to hack a system or two if they feel the end justifies the means.
It is important to understand the different classes of hackers, but it is the white hat hackers who are the penetration testers and ethical hackers in the cyber security world. If this is the path you would like to pursue, there are many different courses and studies that you will need to study and become certified.
What do you need to learn to become a proficient ethical hacker?
Basic networking concepts should be at the top of your list. You will need to understand how different protocols allow different options for remote connection to systems. This knowledge will help you understand how you can close these ports and keep attackers at bay. A good starting certification to teach you about these concepts is CompTIA’s Network+, which will teach you the basic networking concepts you need. After completing this certification, CASP (Certified Advanced Security Practitioner) from CompTIA, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) from ISC2, and CEH Council EC (Certified Ethical Hacker) are good choices to learn penetration testing and ethical hacking, although CISSP and CEH are more advanced certification.
In addition to the academic requirements of learning how to apply your knowledge as a security professional, you will also need to learn logic and reasoning. The best way to learn how to hack is to actually spend time in a test lab environment and practice. It should become a regularly practiced exercise, and you must constantly strive to improve, learn and implement any new skills you acquire along the way. Eventually, you’ll learn to memorize all the different port numbers, applications, and techniques needed to break into systems and protect against unwanted intruders.
How will this information help you in your ethical hacking career?
Mastering these basic concepts and applying the methods and techniques will help you advance your ethical hacking career. You will be able to practice many of the theoretical concepts that you learn with a hands-on lab test. This makes the learning process much more efficient and improves the speed of your progress.
Do you need special degrees and certifications to become an ethical hacker?
The short answer is no; there are many resources online to help you learn how to become an ethical hacker and penetration tester. However, this approach has some limiting factors. One problem is that there is a lot of material and trying to figure out what is important and what is not can be a bit daunting. Another problem is that finding a job will almost always be easier if you have a certificate behind your name.
What degrees and/or certifications will help your career as an ethical hacker?
There are several options that you can take advantage of when trying to achieve the appropriate degree of hacking, including:
- Computer science
- Information security
- Computer information systems
Having a degree will help you in your job search, but you’ll still need specialized certifications to demonstrate your competence in ethical hacking and penetration testing. These include:
- EC-Council: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- EC-Council: Certified Network Defender (CND)
- EC Council: Certified Security Analyst (CSA)
- EC Council: Computer Hack Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
- Offensive Security: Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- GIAC: GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
There are many other certifications so you will be able to find the right one for you depending on your existing knowledge and skills.
What are some of the most common security issues companies have with their networks?
Many problems can occur in a corporate network, but some of the most common include:
- Incorrectly configured firewalls
- Untrained staff
- Using default credentials
- Unprotected passwords
- Lack of encryption
- Lack of logical server grouping
- Incorrect logging settings
- Bad DMZ settings
Delegating IT functions to employees, such as AV updates
Can ethical hacking help improve other technical skills?
Definitely. Ethical hacking and penetration testing teach you how to think laterally and apply multiple solutions to achieve one specific goal. This is because one specific goal may require the use of several different types of hacking techniques. In situations where you have never done a particular task before, you will almost always walk away from the exercise with new insights, knowledge and skills that you did not have at the beginning.
What other technical skills can help you improve your ethical hacking skills?
Deeply technical subjects such as programming, scripting, networking and hardware engineering can all help you with your basic understanding of the underlying technologies that all come together to create the systems you work on. Other technical skills that can help expand your technical horizons include system administration, network engineering, and software development.
As companies become more interconnected, there are more opportunities to exploit security vulnerabilities. This may be bad news for organizations, but it’s good news for those considering careers as ethical hackers and pentesters.
InfoSec Institute has a wide range of courses, boot camps and training to give you the best possible start as an ethical hacker. You can find the best way to get started with your certification goals, as well as certification progression paths you might want to follow. The EC-Council just released version 10 of its Certified Ethical Hacking certification, and the InfoSec Institute offers an updated bootcam to help you prepare for the certification. For certified ethical hackers who want to take their skills to the next level, the InfoSec Institute also offers Advanced Ethical Hacking Boot Camp training.