Ethical Hacking - Everything you need to know

Ethical Hacking - Everything you need to know


What is Ethical Hacking?

The term ‘hacking’ has a very negative connotation attached to it. It refers to gaining unauthorized access to data in a computer or system. It is the unlawful use of another’s resources. However, hacking when done with permission is not only legal but has several advantages to organizations and companies.

What kind of vulnerabilities does a hacker see? What information might be targeted by a hacker? What will the attacker do with the information and how many people notice the attempt? What can be done to fix the vulnerabilities in the system? 

All these questions can be answered by an ethical hacker. Ethical hacking is the act of identifying vulnerabilities in an application, system, or organization's infrastructure that can be exploited by an attacker. By lawfully hacking into networks and looking for weak places, ethical hackers (also known as the white hats) try to avoid cyberattacks and security breaches.

Advantages of Ethical Hacking with Examples

Ethical hacking has great importance in today’s times. Finding vulnerabilities from the perspective of an attacker, addressing weak areas in a system and putting in place a secure network to avoid security breaches are some such examples. Ethical hacking can also be necessary to earn the trust of customers and investors by assuring the security of the products and data. It prevents people with malicious intentions to gain access to sensitive or confidential information.

Application of Ethical Hacking

One major use of ethical hacking is to protect the national security of a country. Any breach or loophole in the information or defense databases of the country can put the safety of its citizens at great risk. Thus, impenetrable defenses need to be forged and erected so that no enemy nation or terrorist organization can obtain official, classified government data. Using ethical hackers is one such way to ensure cybersecurity. They can identify the vulnerabilities and help protect data from cyberattacks and breaches. For example, in the United States of America, the “Hack the Pentagon” event, led by the Defense Digital Service, kick-started the partnership between the Department Of Defense and the white
hat community. In addition to finding 138 vulnerabilities, they also uncovered the need to have an enduring open door for hackers to report the vulnerabilities they find. Later, they also started the ‘Vulnerability Disclosure Policy’ which has become one of the largest disclosure programmes in the world.

Phases of Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacking has five major phases. Reconnaissance is the preparatory phase where the hacker collects preliminary information about the target prior to the attack. Through scanning, the hacker identifies a quick way to gain access to the network by exploiting the vulnerabilities of the system. After gaining access to the network, the user privileges are escalated to control the systems connected to it. Having gained the access, the hacker tries to maintain it by securing access to the organization’s Rootkits and Trojans. These are used to launch additional attacks on the network.

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