07 Jun 2021
1. White hat hackers, who are also called “Ethical Hackers” are skilled professionals hired by companies, government agencies etc. to test their cyber security fences and help them overcome the loop holes in the security system that an unethical hacker could exploit.
2. Black hat hackers are those who break security systems and invade into networks with an intension to steal data, corrupt systems or make financial gains.
3. Grey hat hackers also invade into networks or break security systems without permissions but they do not perform any malicious activities. They do it for fun and in many cases, they reveal their findings to the system owners in order to help them improve their network security. However, this type of hacking is also illegal.
Roles and Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker
The job of a certified Ethical Hacker is to find the weaknesses in the IT security systems and fix it before someone exploits it for his/her benefit. If any loop holes are found, he has to plan and execute effective measures to close them. He regularly conducts security audits and checks for vulnerabilities like changes in security settings, exposure of sensitive data, possibilities of injection attack, Breach in authentication protocols, alterations in firewall settings, presence of malicious scripts in the systems etc. In simple words, his responsibility is to make sure that the IT security is up to the mark.
Whether done for good or bad, hacking requires enormous talent, deep knowledge and patience. Hackers need to have deep knowledge in computer networking, IT security devices, network protocols etc. to invade into the systems. They should have sound knowledge in programming languages, databases, operating systems etc. to inspect the current operations and try altering them. Apart from all these, they should be exceptionally well at using different hacking tools available. Since, the IT industry is evolving day by day and new security measures are being invented, an ethical hacker should keep on updating his knowledge. Therefore, to become an Ethical Hacker you need to have unwavering dedication and a mind-set to keep on learning.
Now, let us checkout 6 major steps an Ethical Hacker or a Hacker performs to invade into the system and find vulnerabilities.
Step 1 Reconnaissance - Here a hacker collects as much information as possible about the target systems. He tries to identify the type of network used, protocols included, host name, people involved etc. The information collected depends upon the nature of system the hacker is trying to crack into. For instance, if the hacker is trying to hack a website, he may use search engines like Maltego to collect the link properties of the website. Maltego is a popular open source program used for link analysis. It scans for all the links and generates all sorts of information about the link in a graphical presentation.
Step 2 Scanning - Now, the hackers would look for information that can help them to penetrate into the system such as computer names, IP addresses, Port Numbers, User account info etc. They use different tools like port scanners, sweepers, network mappers etc. to scan for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. They use tools like Nmap, Wireshark etc. to scan the networks.
Step 3 Gaining Access – Once the hacker has all the information required to tap into the system and knowhow to accomplish his goals, he will try to connect into the system. This is the crucial step performed based on the data collected in Phase 1 and 2. They may connect into the system through an open communication port. They may try phishing attack, where in, they hack an e-mail address of the organization and shoot mails from it to key members asking them to log-in to the targeted system. The mail will have phishing link that will collect the log-in credentials and send it back to the hacker. There are different attacks like reverse TCP/IP attack, Denial of service attack, session hijacking etc. They try different methods one after the other to establish a connection with the system.
Step 4 Maintaining Access – The hackers would never want to lose the connection by any chance. Therefore, once they establish a connection, they find ways to maintain the connection for future exploitation. Even after they accomplish their goals in the invaded system, they would want to use the system as a host to launch attacks into other systems. To establish a permanent connection, hacker tries to create additional administrator accounts, identify accounts that have not been used for a long time etc. They may use tools like “Ettercap” to build plug-ins in the system (an application that allows them to connect anytime from an outer network)
Step 5 Clearing tracks – Hackers always cover their identity by masking their MAC address before invading into a system. In the target computer, they modify or delete values in the log file, registries etc. They uninstall applications used for hacking to leave no trace of an attack. In many cases, hackers perform one attack, accomplish a task and remain silent in the system to make the target believe that the hacker is out of the system. They perform another attack after a while.
Step 6 Reporting & Finding Solution – An Ethical Hacker has an additional step to perform. He documents each and every step he performed in the system while he was playing the role of an illegal hacker. He prepares a report that includes vulnerabilities in the system and suggests plans to fix those security loop holes.
Hacking is creating huge losses to the companies around the world. The interesting part is, majority of the hacking goes unnoticed and a lot of them are not revealed to the public. Companies would not want to lose the trust of their customers by letting them know that their systems have been hacked. Therefore, they hide the incident and sometimes end up paying huge amount to hackers to get back the stolen information or stop them from misusing it. Therefore, the demand for certified Ethical Hackers are all time high even in the economically advanced countries like UK, US & Canada. Since, the cybercrime is increasing day by day, companies are ready to invest hefty amount on IT security. An Ethical Hacker with required skill sets can earn heavy pay checks and always stay in demand.
Whether you are an IT enthusiast looking for Ethical Hacking course to begin a bright career or a working professional looking to switch your profession, you can opt for a Cyber-Security course online and become an Ethical Hacker. Several Ethical Hacking online courses are available to let you study while you work and fulfil your dream of becoming a praised Ethical Hacker.
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