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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is Hacking?
3.
What is Ethical Hacking?
4.
Key Concepts of Ethical Hacking
5.
Types of Ethical Hacking
5.1.
Network Scanning
5.2.
Vulnerability Scanning
5.3.
Password Cracking
5.4.
Computer Hacking
5.5.
Email Hacking
6.
Importance of Ethical Hacking
7.
Skills Required for Ethical Hacking
7.1.
Knowledge of Computer Systems and Networks
7.2.
Programming Skills
7.3.
Understanding of Hacking Techniques and Tools
7.4.
Analytical Skills
8.
How Ethical Hackers Are Different from Malicious Hackers?
9.
Advantages of Hacking
10.
Disadvantages of Hacking
11.
Limitations of Ethical Hacking
12.
Frequently Asked Questions
12.1.
Is ethical hacking legal?
12.2.
What is meant by ethical hacking?
12.3.
What are the 7 types of hackers?
13.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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What is Ethical Hacking?

Author Rahul Singh
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Ashwin Goyal
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Introduction

In today's digital age, Ethical hacking is becoming popular due to rising vulnerabilities. It is a type of hacking done under some guided rules and regulations which are laid down by organisations.

What is Ethical Hacking

Cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and steal sensitive information. One way to combat this threat is through ethical hacking. This article will discuss the basics of ethical hacking, its importance in cybersecurity, and the skills required to become an ethical hacker.

What is Hacking?

Hacking is simply a process of gaining unauthorized access to someone's computer system or network. This can be used to steal data, install malware, or disrupt operations.

In simple terms, hacking is like breaking into a house. The hacker is the burglar, and the computer system or network is the house. The burglar wants to get into the house to steal something or to cause damage.

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What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking, also known as "white hat hacking," uses hacking techniques to identify and fix vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. Ethical hackers are hired by organizations to test the security of their systems and identify potential weaknesses. The goal of ethical hacking is to improve the system's security rather than to cause harm or damage.

Ethical hackers use many of the same techniques as criminal hackers but with the permission of the organization. They use a combination of automated tools and manual techniques to identify vulnerabilities in the system. Once vulnerabilities are identified, ethical hackers provide detailed reports to the organization, outlining the potential risks and recommendations for remediation.

Key Concepts of Ethical Hacking

A hacking expert follows four main protocol concepts:

  1. Comply with legal requirements: Prior to accessing and conducting a security assessment, obtain proper authorization to ensure that all actions are lawful
     
  2. Define the scope of work: To ensure that ethical hackers operate within approved limits, they should clearly define the scope of the assessment
     
  3. Report vulnerabilities: Inform the organization of any vulnerabilities discovered during the assessment, and provide guidance on how to remedy them
     
  4. Respect data sensitivity: Depending on the data sensitivity level, ethical hackers may need to agree to a non-disclosure agreement and other terms and conditions mandated by the organization being assessed

Types of Ethical Hacking

These are some common ethical hacking techniques:

  • Network Scanning
  • Vulnerability Scanning
  • Password Cracking
  • Website Hacking
  • Computer Hacking
  • Email Hacking

Network Scanning

Network scanning involves mapping out a network to identify active hosts and ports. Ethical hackers use this technique to identify potential entry points and vulnerabilities in the network.

Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning involves using automated tools to scan a system for known vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers use this technique to identify weaknesses in the system that cybercriminals could exploit.

Password Cracking

Password cracking involves attempting to guess or crack passwords to gain access to a system. Ethical hackers use this technique to test the strength of password policies and identify potential weaknesses in the authentication process.

Computer Hacking

Computer hacking can be described as the act of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system or network in order to steal data, install malware, or disrupt operations.

Email Hacking

Email hacking is the type of hacking in which the hacker attempts to gain unauthorized access to an email account. Hackers can use this access to steal personal information, send spam, or commit identity theft.

Importance of Ethical Hacking

The importance of ethical hacking lies in its ability to identify and fix vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks before cybercriminals can exploit them. By proactively testing and improving the security of a system, organizations can reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and protect sensitive information from being stolen or compromised.

Ethical hacking can also help organizations comply with regulatory requirements for security and data privacy. In some industries, such as healthcare and finance, organizations are required to maintain certain levels of security and privacy for sensitive data. Ethical hacking can help these organizations identify and fix security issues before they can result in regulatory violations.

Skills Required for Ethical Hacking

Becoming an ethical hacker requires a wide range of technical skills and knowledge. Some of the key skills required for ethical hacking include:

Skills Required for Ethical Hacking

Knowledge of Computer Systems and Networks

Ethical hackers need to deeply understand computer systems and networks, including operating systems, networking protocols, and security technologies.

Programming Skills

Ethical hackers must be proficient in at least one programming language, such as Python or Java. This allows them to develop their own hacking tools and scripts.

Understanding of Hacking Techniques and Tools

Ethical hackers must be familiar with common hacking techniques and tools, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and Metasploit.

Analytical Skills

Ethical hackers need to be able to analyze complex systems and identify potential vulnerabilities. They also need to be able to analyze data to determine the scope and impact of a security breach.

How Ethical Hackers Are Different from Malicious Hackers?

Ethical hackers and malicious hackers are both highly skilled in computer security, but they work for different goals. Ethical hackers are hired by organizations to find and fix security vulnerabilities, whereas malicious hackers try to exploit those vulnerabilities for their own advantage.

Here are some of the key differences between ethical hackers and malicious hackers:

  • Motivation: Ethical hackers are motivated to help organizations improve their security, while malicious hackers are motivated to steal data, damage systems, or disrupt operations
     
  • Legality: Ethical hacking is legal, while malicious hacking is illegal
     
  • Consent: Ethical hackers work with the consent of the organization, while malicious hackers do not
     
  • Methods: Ethical hackers do not violate the law by finding out vulnerabilities while performing hacking. On the other hand, Malicious hackers use any means to achieve their goals, including illegal and unethical ways

Advantages of Hacking

Let us discuss some of the advantages of hacking, such as:

  • Improved security: Ethical hacking helps to improve the security of computer systems by identifying and fixing vulnerabilities
     
  • Increased awareness: Hacking can help to raise awareness of security risks and how to mitigate them
     
  • Innovation: Hacking can drive innovation in security technology
     
  • Career opportunities: Hacking can lead to lucrative career opportunities in security

Disadvantages of Hacking

 Let us discuss some of the disadvantages of hacking:

  • Data breaches: Hacking can lead to data breaches, which can expose sensitive information such as credit card details, phone numbers, medical history
     
  • Financial losses: Hacking can lead to financial losses as hackers can attack someone's bank account and take away their money
     
  • Operational disruptions: Hacking can lead to operational disruptions, like when hackers take down websites 
     
  • Reputational damage: Hacking can damage the reputation of organizations that are hacked because then the organisation seems to not be trustworthy 

Limitations of Ethical Hacking

Let us discuss some of the limitations of ethical hacking:

  • Time constraints: Ethical hackers are bounded with limited time to find and fix vulnerabilities otherwise the vulnerabilities could cause a huge loss
     
  • Resource constraints: Ethical hackers does not have the best or same resources as malicious hackers have, such as powerful computers and tools
     
  • Scope limitations: Ethical hackers may be limited to testing specific systems or networks
     
  • Legal constraints: Ethical hackers must follow the laws and the organization's policies
     
  • Human error: Ethical hackers are still human and can make mistakes

Also read - active and passive attacks

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ethical hacking legal?

Yes, ethical hacking is legal as long as it is conducted with the permission of the organization being tested. Ethical hackers must also follow a strict code of conduct and adhere to all applicable laws.

What is meant by ethical hacking?

Ethical hacking is the type of hacking but under some guided rules and regulations laid down by the organisations. It is a technique to improve the security of a system or network and to find and fix security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious hackers.

What are the 7 types of hackers?

Hackers are categorized into 7 types based on their intent and methods which includes white hat, black hat, gray hat, script kiddies, green hat, blue hat, and red hat.

Conclusion

Ethical hacking is a crucial component of cybersecurity, helping organizations identify and fix vulnerabilities in their systems before cybercriminals can exploit them. Ethical hackers require a wide range of technical skills and knowledge, as well as a commitment to ethical behavior and adherence to applicable laws and regulations. 

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