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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What It Takes to Become an Ethical Hacker

Companies and organizations worldwide, regardless of the industry they belong to, are susceptible to cybercrime. Reports about global giants like HBO, Verizon, and Target being hacked have given the rest of the globe quite a scare.

Fortunately, the incidents of cybercrime paved the way for the birth of a strategy that could counteract those in the future: ethical hacking.

Also called “white-hat hacking,” this relatively new profession has become quite useful in preventing data breaches in small and large companies alike.

To help you learn more about white hat hacking, this article presents introduces the term and identifies what one would need to become an ethical hacker.

Who Is an Ethical Hacker?

An ethical hacker is a licensed professional who performs penetration testing to determine the extent of an organization’s cybersecurity. From there, he pinpoints aspects of the system that are vulnerable to a breach and submits a report about it to the company’s IT security team.

The IT security staff will then use the hacker's report to bolster security in the vulnerable areas. This ultimately lowers the risk of the organization's sensitive information becoming compromised.

System security penetration testing is not as easy as it may seem. It entails plenty of planning and requires explicit permission from the organization management before the tests can be run.

On top of that, these tests involve similar techniques that black hat hackers may use to breach a network. This is made so to allow the IT security team to come up with countermeasures against attacks that may occur based on the vulnerabilities of their system.

How to Become an Ethical Hacker: 4 Things You Need

If DDoS attacks, viruses, and buffer overflows interest you, then you might want to become an ethical hacker. To do so, these are the four things that will be required of you:

1. Educational Background

There are no universal education criteria for white hat hackers since different organizations have varying needs. They may also impose additional requirements according to their IT setup.

However, having a master's or bachelor's degree in IT, computer science, or even mathematics can serve as a solid foundation for the job. This will make it a lot easier for you to digest new information from trainings and other hacking resources you might stumble upon later on.

2. Certifications and Licenses

To boost your chances of getting hired, you must also undergo training and receive ethical hacking certification. Including this in your credentials can help you get a head start on your chosen career path, even if you don't have years of experience under your belt.

If you plan on acquiring an intermediate level certification, you should expect to encounter system hacking topics such as:
  • Social engineering
  • Enumeration
  • SQL injection
  • Worms, viruses, Trojans, and other forms of cyberattacks like denial of services (DoS)
Knowledge about firewalls, penetration testing, cryptography, and honeypots will also serve to your advantage.

3 Soft Skills

While the task is highly technical, you will still need certain soft skills to be effective at it. This includes problem-solving and organizational skills. You must also be able to maintain a level head even under pressure and show impeccable judgment.

A balance of common sense and intelligence is necessary to succeed in this career path. You should also have people skills, street smarts, and the ability to persuade people to disclose security credentials to perform your tasks.

Of course, you must be able to relay information clearly. Communication skills are crucial since you need to explain things both to the IT team as well as those who have no background in the field.

Keep in mind that, while you will be working with IT personnel most of the time, you may need to speak to other employees in the company. This includes C-level executives who may require you to translate “hacker speak” into layman’s terms. This is where spoken English courses will come in handy.

4 Coding Skills

If you truly want to become a white hat hacker, you must be willing to pursue continuous learning as many situations require new knowledge in IT. Also, you would need to have a strong understanding of scripting or coding language and network and web security.

As an ethical hacker, you may need to learn several coding languages since there’s a good chance that you’ll be working on different platforms. This includes HTML, JSP, PHP, and ASP for web applications and Swift, Java, and C# for mobile. Python is also highly recommended since it has become quite popular due to its portability.

Of course, you can easily learn these coding languages if you have a fundamental understanding of specific programming concepts. This includes data types and variable manipulation. Remember that all coding languages are the same, except for certain syntax variations.

For the Good of the Virtual Community

Ethical hackers have emerged to address a critical need for cybersecurity in the digital world. Studying and training to become one will get you on the path to a rewarding and versatile career in IT.

Jerrin Samuel is the Executive Director at Regional Educational Institute (REI) in Abu Dhabi. Since 1995, REI has been at the forefront of education by delivering quality corporate training courses in the UAE, helping many businesses and organizations achieve greater productivity and higher customer satisfaction levels.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

4 significant things to look out for in a VPN service

You have been contemplating using a VPN for quite a while, but you still are not sure what to look out for when shopping for one. For one, you know that a free VPN is not even an option as the catch for free service is the sale of your data. Every service out there promises the world, but can they deliver? Here are some of the critical items you should factor in before making your decision:


Speed is evident since nobody wants to be stuck with a slow connection. Various factors affect the speed and stability of a VPN, but either way, look for a service that gives you different options. Different configuration options for varying purposes will ensure you always have flexible speed options. This largely depends on what you are using the VPN for, whether peer-to-peer activities or live streaming.


While speed is a factor, safety should also be a priority. It does not make sense to have a lightning-fast connection without security. Ensure the service uses protection mechanisms like IP hiding and kill switches. For example, security just got better! ExpressVPN and HP have teamed up to give you the new HP Spectre x360 13, which comes with a pre-installed and secure VPN.
HP clients will get a free 30-day trial period, which enables them to gain access to all Express VPN apps. The new Spectre x360 13 comes with a kill switch that switches off your webcam when not in use, a mute mic with LED key for switching on and off and an optional privacy screen. You can log in with your fingerprint, ensuring nobody can access your data; you can manage passwords with Lastpass, plus of course the pre-installed Express VPN. How cool is that?
ExpressVPN also uses TrustedServer technology, which means the VPN servers run on volatile memory (RAM) and not hard drive. RAM needs electrical power to store information, which means the data is wiped off every time the server is switched off.
ExpressVPN has four major strategies when it comes to security:
       Ensure a system is very complex and can’t be compromised easily
       Mitigate the damage if it happens
       Minimize the period the system stays compromised
       Check the validity of these strategies by asking a qualified person from outside the company to test them.


A VPN that is limited in its reach does not do you any justice. If you intend to use the VPN to access blocked content in your current location, you can check for a VPN with availability by country. This is especially useful if you travel regularly. A high-quality VPN ensures you are connected to your services back in your home country, no matter where you are on the globe.

Great encryption

Encryption is perhaps the most critical aspect of a VPN. Data is valuable, and a great VPN will ensure your information is secure. With ExpressVPN’s 256-bit encryption, there is no way that network operators, ISPs, or the government can pry into your business. Even better, hackers on the same free public Wi-Fi hotspot will not be able to intercept your traffic to steal passwords, private photos, emails, etc.


According to a survey by GlobalWorldIndex, the demand for private use VPNs is expanding at an impressive rate. GlobalWebIndex found that 30% of the world’s internet users have made use of VPNs in the past 30 days. The VPN market is predicted to expand by at least 50% from an average of $23.6 billion this year to almost $36 billion in the next four years.
As mentioned earlier, free VPNs are not an option. ExpressVPN has made getting quality VPN much more accessible. HP is dedicated to creating lasting solutions in every industry, from health, education, and retail. Price in getting a VPN should be a factor. Look at what you are getting from the service, vis a vis its charges. As most major technology brands recognize the need for quality digital security, it will cease to be a matter of price, but the quality of service provided.