Hacking is the process of illegally gaining access to computer systems and sensitive information and using that data to demand ransom, or leak publicly for revenge or sell them for a price. Hacking is one of the persistent threats of our time. And bear in mind, it is going to stay and will always be until we as a society abstain from all types of digital devices in our lives. It’s not possible, right? That’s precisely why we need Ethical Hackers. More than ever now! Let’s dive straight into the topic!
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical Hacking is also hacking, but wherein the computer and network experts with authorized permission gain access to the system and networks of an organization to test its security measures, vulnerabilities, and any loopholes, which an attacker might gain access to and cause catastrophic impacts.
The professionals who conduct these tests, with permissions, are known as Ethical Hacker or White Hat Hacker, or in short, White Hats. The hackers who gain unauthorized access are known as Black Hat Hackers or Black Hats. One of the most recognized entry-level certifications in Ethical Hacking is Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council. You can take up this CEH Course to crack the CEH exam and kick start your journey to become a qualified Ethical Hacker.
What are the Protocols of Ethical Hacking?
Every Ethical Hacker has to follow a set of protocols set up to conduct these tests most safely and professionally as it could be. Some of the most popular protocols are:
- Approval decides the scope of security assessment: There are many legal restrictions on performing these security assessments. You need to have proper permission before beginning, as these processes have legalities attached with them.
- Stay Legal: Without proper authorization, you must not perform any security assessments in an organization’s network or systems. And even if you gain permission, you must work to improve their security measures.
- Report vulnerabilities: You must document the assessment and report the loopholes and security vulnerability to the concerned team.
- Agree to the Non-Disclosure Policy: All Ethical Hackers performing these security assessments for an organization must abide by the rules of data privacy and must not disclose any matters to an unauthorized professional.
What are the types of vulnerabilities that White Hats discover?
Various types of security vulnerabilities exist today in different forms and platforms. It’s the job of Cybersecurity professionals and Ethical Hackers to determine these loopholes and fix them asap, before attackers or Black Hats gain access to them. Some of the types of vulnerabilities that these Ethical Hackers can address are:
Unaware of security loopholes: Many organizations perceive their network and systems as secure until they find out their security loopholes by a White Hat. It is the top vulnerability among all others.
Broken Authentication: This is a security vulnerability where an attacker can perform credential surfing and many other automated attacks if that particular web app has a weak or defective authentication.
Injection Attacks: This is a loophole wherein a Black Hat could insert malicious code into the applications or a network for the interpreter to process wrong code or query, thus rendering it useless and making way for Black Hat to gain access. A White Hat can perform pentesting to validate such loopholes in the entire network or the application.
Confidential Data Exposure: This is also one of the most feared security vulnerabilities across the IT industry. That is, what if the Black Hat gains access to sensitive or confidential data? These sensitive data could be bank details, credit card information, username & passwords, private information of an individual, records, financial transactions, etc.
What are the different types of Hacking?
There are many forms of attack that Black Hat conducts over time. The main types of Hacking are:
- System Hacking
- Social Engineering
- Web Application Hacking
- Web Server Hacking
- Wireless Network Hacking
How Ethical Hackers work?
Ethical Hacker conducts these tests the same way a Hacker makes his way through systems and networks illegally. The only difference is that these Ethical Hackers are authorized to do so, while Black Hats aren’t. So, how do these Ethical Hackers work?
Ethical Hackers work in typical Black Hat methodologies, and they are:
- Understand the target and its loopholes: This is the preliminary phase, wherein Hackers understand their target inside-out. They study and validate their security measures and collect as much information from which they can get an accurate birds-eye view of their networks and systems.
- Scanning: After gaining enough information, they proceed to the next step is Scanning. In this step, the White Hat tries to skim through accounts, IP Addresses, and other credentials as a loophole to gain the target’s sensitive information. To find vulnerabilities, they deploy many tools like dialers, sweepers, port scanners, vulnerability scanners, and network mappers, etc. Ethical Hackers use similar methods to validate these loopholes.
- The Entry: This is one of the crucial steps for an attacker, as he/she tries to break into the system or network illegally using many tools and methods. They do this by downloading malicious software or injecting malicious code into the system. Once they gain access, they use the data to demand ransom, encrypt it to make it irreversible for use, leak it for personal revenge or sell it to some 3rd party. Ethical Hacker checks for the security measures in place by pentesting.
- Holding on: The attackers know that they only have a small window to acquire the data they need or fulfill their intent. Once they gain unauthorized access to a network, they continue their access illegally by launching various attacks like DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) to deny processing user requests to a website or web app and render it useless in short, hijacking the system.
- Clearing traces: The last and final step for an attacker is to clear their track. They don’t want the concerned authorities to trace this attack to them. It is the most crucial aspect of a cyberattack wherein, Black Hats remove all details like cache, history, deletes folders, software, changes the folders to their original state, and leaves no personal trace or essential information. Ethical Hackers use ICMP tunnels, reverse HTTP Shells, and delete cache & history to erase their footprints.
I hope you got all the essential information on Ethical Hacking to start your journey to becoming an Ethical Hacker.