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.
AUTHOR BIO

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.

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