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Why is Ethical Hacking Necessary?

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By: Olivia

March 20, 2018

For those outside of the cyber security community or those who are just entering it, there is often much debate about ethical hacking. Is it actually ethical? What exactly does ethical hacking entail? And, why is ethical hacking necessary?In this blog, I plan to answer those questions and shed light on why ethical hacking is needed now more than ever and how you can learn the tools and techniques needed to become a skilled ethical hacker.First, let’s start by defining the term ethical hacker. An ethical hacker is “a computer and networking expert who systematically attempts to penetrate a computer system or network on behalf of its owners for the purpose of finding security vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could potentially exploit.” It is important to note that by definition, what makes this type of hacking ethical is that it is done with express permission from the target.If and when a vulnerability is found, an ethical hacker will document the issues and offer advice on how to fix the problems. Typically, an organization who employs an ethical hacker does so to evaluate their security posture. According to TechTarget, “a successful test doesn’t necessarily mean a network or a system is 100% secure, but it should be able to withstand automated attacks and unskilled hackers.”In the past, companies seemed to operate under the mindset that ‘locking the doors’ was the best way to protect their systems, but with changing technology and techniques, they realized this is not the case. Systems need to be continuously tested to withstand a variety of attacks that evolve as adversaries do.“Ethical hacking offers an objective analysis of an organization’s information security posture for organizations of any level of security expertise. The ethical hacking organization has no knowledge of the company’s systems other than what they can gather. Hackers must scan for weaknesses, test entry points, prioritize targets, and develop a strategy that best leverages their resources. The objectiveness of this kind of security assessment has a direct impact on the value of the whole evaluation,” writes HelpNetSecurity.As the complexity of security vulnerabilities have grown, so too has the need for ethical hackers and their prominence in businesses across the globe. Taking a proactive approach to security can help organizations better protect their data and reputations, as well as save money.“The elevated threat landscape, therefore, urgently dictates the need for a comprehensive, real-world assessment of an organization’s security posture. This assessment is a first vital step to enact effective security policies, procedures, and infrastructure that will prevent or mitigate the effects of a data breach.”To be a successful ethical hacker, you must know how to scan, test, hack, and secure systems. You will need a thorough understanding of how intruders escalate privileges and how to secure a system. Ethical hackers need hands-on experience and have the ability to conduct robust vulnerability assessments. They’re familiar with Intrusion Detection, Policy Creation, Social Engineering, DDoS Attacks, Buffer Overflows, and Virus Creation.Students and professionals looking to learn ethical hacking can find a variety of helpful resources on Cybrary:Olivia Lynch (@Cybrary_Olivia) is the Marketing Manager at Cybrary. Like many of you, she is just getting her toes wet in the field of cyber security. A firm believer that the pen is mightier than the sword, Olivia considers corny puns and an honest voice essential to any worthwhile blog.
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