Ethical hacking

Hacking is the act of identifying weakness in computer systems or networks and exploiting these weaknesses to gain access to other people’s computers so as to steal sensitive data and information. Example of Computer Hacking: Using password cracking algorithm to gain access to a system

Hacking is also an attempt to exploit a computer system or a private network inside a computer. Simply put, it is the unauthorised access to or control over computer network security systems for some illicit purpose.

Analysis: To better describe hacking, one needs to first understand hackers. One can easily assume them to be intelligent and highly skilled in computers. In fact, breaking a security system requires more intelligence and expertise than actually creating one. There are no hard and fast rules whereby we can categorize hackers into neat compartments.

TYPES OF HACKERS

However, in general computer parlance, we call them white hats, black hats and grey hats. White hat professionals hack to check their own security systems to make it more hack-proof. In most cases, they are part of the same organisation. Black hat hackers hack to take control over the system for personal gains. They can destroy, steal or even prevent authorized users from accessing the system. They do this by finding loopholes and weaknesses in the system. Some computer experts call them crackers instead of hackers. Grey hat hackers comprise curious people who have just about enough computer language skills to enable them to hack a system to locate potential loopholes in the network security system. Grey hats differ from black hats in the sense that the former notify the admin of the network system about the weaknesses discovered in the system, whereas the latter is only looking for personal gains. All kinds of hacking are considered illegal barring the work done by white hat hackers.

 Black Hat

Black hat hackers are normally responsible for creating malware, which is frequently used to infiltrate computerized networks and systems. They’re usually motivated by personal or financial gain, but can also participate in espionage, protests, or merely enjoy the thrill. Black hat hackers can be anyone from amateurs to highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals looking to spread malware, steal private data, like login credentials, along with financial and personal information. Upon accessing their targets and depending on their motives, black hat hackers can either steal, manipulate, or destroy system data.

2. White Hat

Also known as “ethical hackers,” they’re often employed or contracted by companies and governmental entities, working as security specialists looking for vulnerabilities. While they employ the same methods as black hat hackers, they always have permission from the system’s owner, making their actions completely legal. White hat hackers implement strategies like penetration tests, monitor in-place security systems, along with vulnerability assessments. Ethical hacking, the term used to describe the nature of a white hat hackers’ actions, can even be learned through independent sources, training, conferences, and certifications.

3. Grey Hat

As the name suggests, these individuals utilize aspects from black and white hat hackers, but will usually seek out vulnerabilities in a system without an owner’s permission or knowledge. While they’ll report any issues they encounter to the owner, they’ll also request some sort of compensation or incentive. Should the owner not respond or reject their proposition, a grey hat hacker might exploit the newfound flaws. Grey hat hackers aren’t malicious by nature, but do seek to have their efforts rewarded. Since grey hat hackers don’t have permission to access the system by its owner, their actions are ultimately considered illegal, despite any alarming findings they might reveal.

WHAT IS ETHICAL HACKING?

Ethical Hacking, however, is a legal variation of hacking. Companies hire computer experts to test system security, identify vulnerabilities, and provide analysis on how to improve the firewall. It is also a way for government agencies to identify and locate potential threats to national security. 

Individuals who have permission to hack the computer systems are referred to as ‘ethical hackers.’ They are certified to hack as per the clients’ instructions. After the vulnerabilities are identified, the hackers present a ‘maturity scorecard,’ which states the level of risk, the number of loopholes in the security, and suggests improvements. 

Importance of Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacking is a way for governments to secure intelligence information about enemy states, influence politics, and more. In the era of international conflicts, the threat of cyber-terrorism, and terrorist groups funding cybercriminals, national security is continuously at risk.

Additionally, with the exponential rise of cybercrimes, agencies and businesses also need a way to counter the growing threat. Vulnerabilities in security leave the company systems susceptible to malware. Viruses, ransomware, worms, and malware are doubling in number, with the advancing technology, making ethical hacking a necessity.

Ethical hacking allows organizations to combat unauthorized access. As the hacker has no prior knowledge about the company other than what they are informed, it also provides an unbiased analysis of a company’s security architecture. Ethical hackers have to highlight loopholes in system security, test entry points, priority targets, and more. Furthermore, ethical hackers also devise strategies to safeguard sensitive information for companies, defense contractors, and government agencies.

Benefits of Ethical Hacking In Cyber Security.

Here are some benefits of ethical hacking that justifies why ethical hacking is worth doing:

  • The prime purpose of ethical hacking is to prevent sensitive data from falling into enemy hands. It safeguards your company from blackmail by those willing to exploit the vulnerabilities.
  • Via real-world testing, you can enhance your digital network security and prevent security breaches.
  • Improved security ensures the safety of client products and data and builds clients’ and investors’ trust.
  • Ethical hacking can prevent cyber-terrorism and terrorist attacks, ensuring the safety of the nation.
  • Hackers can identify potential entry points from an attackers’ perspective, allowing you the chance to fix them before an attack. 
  • As an employee, ethical hacking will help you gain new skills that are useful in a variety of roles, including risk management, network defender, quality assurance tester, and software developer. 
  • It also opens up employment opportunities for those wanting a new role or hoping to impress their organizations. 
  • With swift development cycles, quality assurance and security testing are often overlooked. Trained ethical hackers are an asset to the company. They can perform quick security tests to ensure the software functions aptly under standard and extreme conditions. 
  • Ethical hackers and other quality assurance testers have developed tools and methods to speed up the identification and elimination of all vulnerabilities in the system.

Ethical hacking helps identify the weaknesses in the company firewall or your software security. It helps you look at your security from the hacker’s perspective, giving you the chance to fix any anomalies before it is detrimental to the company’s success.

Despite the controversy behind the topic, ethical hacking helps organizations and nations protect their data from enemy hands. The many benefits and importance are proof that with the growing digitalization, advanced security measures are needed to strengthen cybersecurity.

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