As the digital world continues to advance and make rapid progress, cybercrimes do as well. Criminals, particularly cybercriminals no longer need to leave their comfort zone to commit crimes. They achieve the desired results with just a few clicks of their mouse and a robust Internet connection. To combat this ugly trend, there’s a need for Ethical Hackers and an understanding of Ethical Hacking.
Hacking is a very broad discipline and covers a wide range of topics like,
- Website Hacking
- Email Hacking
- Computer Hacking
- Ethical Hacking
Read: What is Black Hat, Grey Hat or White Hat Hacker?
What is the meaning of Ethical Hacking
Ethical Hacking also known as Penetration Testing is an act of intruding/penetrating system or networks with the user’s consent. The purpose is to evaluate the security of an organization by exploiting the vulnerabilities in a way the attackers could exploit them. Thereby documenting the procedure of attack to prevent such instances in the future. Penetration testing can further be classified into three types.
1] Black box
The penetration tester is not offered any details pertaining to the network, or infrastructure of the network.
2] Grey box
The penetration tester has limited details about the systems to be tested.
3] White Box
The penetration tester is also called as Ethical hacker. He is aware of the complete details of the infrastructure to be tested.
Ethical hackers in most cases, use the same methods and tools used by the malicious hackers but with the permission of the authorized person. The ultimate objective of the whole exercise is to improve the security and defend the systems from attacks by malicious users.
During the exercise, an ethical hacker may attempt to collect as much information as possible about the target system to find ways to penetrate the system. This method is also known as Footprinting.
There are two types of Footprinting–
- Active – Directly establishing a connection with the target to gather information. Eg. Using Nmap tool to scan the target
- Passive – Collecting information about the target without establishing a direct connection. It involves gathering information from social media, public websites, etc.
Different Phases of Ethical Hacking
The different stages of Ethical Hacking include-
The very first step of Hacking. It is like Footprinting, i.e., information gathering Phase. Here, usually, information related to three groups is collected.
- People involved.
Ethical hackers also rely on social engineering techniques to influence end users and obtain information about an organization’s computing environment. However, they should not resort to evil practices such as making physical threats to employees or other types of attempts to extort access or information.
This phase involves-
- Port scanning: scanning the target for the information like open ports, Live systems, various services running on the host.
- Vulnerability Scanning: It is carried out mainly via automated tools to check for weaknesses or vulnerabilities which can be exploited.
- Network Mapping: Developing a map that serves as a reliable guide for hacking. This includes finding the topology of network, host information and drawing a network diagram with the available information.
- Gaining Access: This phase is where an attacker manages to get an entry into a system. The next step involves raising his privilege to administrator level so he can install an application he needs to modify data or hide data.
- Maintaining Access: Continuing to have access to the target until the task planned is finished.
The role of an Ethical Hacker in cybersecurity is important since the bad guys will always be there, trying to find cracks, backdoors, and other secret ways to access data they shouldn’t.
To encourage the practice of Ethical Hacking, there’s a good professional certification for ethical hackers – The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). This certification covers more than 270 attacks technologies. It is a vendor-neutral certification from the EC-Council, one of the leading certification bodies.
Read next: Tips to keep Hackers out of your Windows computer.