How To Become Ethical Hacker
Ethical hacking is the perfect career choice for those interested in problem solving, communication and IT security. Here’s what it takes to become a white hat hacker.In the last few decades, there’s been an increasing demand for ethical hackers (also known as white hat hackers) as they protect the computer systems from dangerous intrusions. Ethical hackers are technically skilled IT pros with a strong desire to solve problems and prevent malicious hackers from causing damage to network systems.To be a professional ethical hacker you require motivation, dedication, initiative, self-education and formal training in ethical hacking.
If there was ever a time to get into the IT security field, it’s now: The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the sector to grow 37 percent by 2022, and according to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, demand for talent so outweighs supply that 40 percent of IT security positions are expected to go unfulfilled in 2014. The pay isn’t bad, either: the average information security analyst in the U.S. makes over $90,000 per year.
How to Get a Job as an Ethical Hacker
One of the most in-demand positions in this field is that of an ethical hacker—an IT professional who purposefully penetrates networks and systems to find and fix potential vulnerabilities. If you’re looking to put on your “white hat” and infiltrate systems for good, this position can be a great career opportunity. Depending on your experience and skills, you can earn over$100,000 per year.
To help job seekers learn what’s involved in becoming an ethical hacker and the responsibilities of the position, we spoke with IT security professionals, instructors and certified hackers themselves. Here, we highlight the skills and certifications needed to rise to the top of the talent pool.
What Is an Ethical Hacker?
Ethical hackers are responsible for examining internal servers and systems to discover any possible vulnerabilities to external cyber attacks. Common job functions include conducting “pentests” (purposeful penetration tests to discover security weaknesses in a system) by using software applications such as Metasploit and BackBox Linux.
According to Damon Petraglia, director of forensic and information security services at Chartstone Consulting, other ethical hacker responsibilities include:
- Providing recommendations on how to mitigate vulnerabilities;
- Working with developers to advise on security needs and requirements;
- Updating security policies and procedures; and,
- Providing training as part of a company’s security awareness and training program.
Hacking isn’t all technical. It also requires so-called soft skills, just as any other IT job does. You’ll need a strong work ethic, very good problem-solving and communications skills, and the ability to say motivated and dedicated.
Ethical hackers also need street smarts, people skills, and even some talent for manipulation, since at times they need to be able to persuade others to disclose credentials, restart or shut down systems, execute files, or otherwise knowingly or unknowingly help them achieve their ultimate goal. You’ll need to master this aspect of the job, which people in the business sometimes call “social engineering,” to become a well-rounded ethical hacker.
It’s important never to engage in “black hat” hacking–that is, intruding or attacking anyone’s network without their full permission. Engaging in illegal activities, even if it doesn’t lead to a conviction, will likely kill your ethical hacking career. Many of the available jobs are with government-related organizations and require security clearances and polygraph testing. Even regular companies will perform at least a basic background check.
Becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
As noted earlier, becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) involves earning the appropriate credential from the EC-Council after a few years of security-related IT experience. The certification will help you understand security from the mindset of a hacker. You’ll learn the common types of exploits, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures.
Qualification for a CEH (a vendor-neutral certification) involves mastering penetration testing, footprinting and reconnaissance, and social engineering. The course of study covers creating Trojan horses, backdoors, viruses, and worms. It also covers denial of service (DoS) attacks, SQL injection, buffer overflow, session hijacking, and system hacking. You’ll discover how to hijack Web servers and Web applications. You’ll also find out how to scan and sniff networks, crack wireless encryption, and evade IDSs, firewalls, and honeypots.
Through approved EC-Council training partners, you can take a live, five-day onsite or online training course to prepare for the CEH cert. You can generally take live online classes over five consecutive days; onsite courses typically offer the content spread over a couple weeks for locals. In addition, you can take self-paced courses and work with self-study materials (including the CEH Certified Ethical Hacker Study Guide book) with or without the training courses. The EC-Council also offers iLabs, a subscription based-service that allows you to log on to virtualized remote machines to perform exercises.
The EC-Council usually requires that you have at least two years of information-security-related work experience (endorsed by your employer) in addition to passing the exam before it will award you the official CEH certification.
Some important steps you have to become Ethical Hacker
- Know about the pros and cons ! of different types of hackers, such as White Hat, Grey Hat and Black Hat hackers.
- Seek out job opportunities for ethical hackers. There are lucrative jobs available in government organizations, banks, financial institutions, military establishments and private companies.
- Analyze the basic requirements to become an ethical hacker. Try to find out the areas where will you need to work really hard.
- Decide the area where you would prefer to work primarily with hardware or software. Do not think of specializing in both the areas. Though knowledge of both is required but the decision will help you to know where to begin. You must be aware of every function, every component of computer on which you will have to work on.
- Evaluate your strengths and interests and gain some programming knowledge such as C, or Java. These programming languages can be learned by taking formal programming courses and reading books. It will help you to read and write code.
- Learn the UNIX operating system as it is regarded as the original operating system built by hackers. Also learn about Windows and Mac OS.
- Take a professional course. There are a wide variety of courses available for IT security professionals in “Ethical Hacking” or “Internet Security” which would help you to expand your knowledge in ethical hacking.
- Do the experiments on your own to know the actual happening of a situation.
- Start experimenting with hardware and software to learn how to take control of the situations and how to prevent a computer from getting hacked.
- Read on your own to know what are the areas where you need to improve and what need to be learned to refine your focus. Technology changes rapidly, and a good ethical hacker must be willing and eager to keep up with the new technological developments.
- Get certified as it would help you to succeed in the vanguard of your profession.
- Stay connected to the hacker community by sharing technical information and ideas.