What is Ethical Hacking, and How Do You Do It?

What is Ethical Hacking?

You might say that all hacking is ethical on the surface. If this statement surprised you, then you’re more used to the way that the media defines hacking rather than the way the word was originally used. Hacking refers to people who enjoy writing their own source code and developing apps to use themselves. Technically, computer crime is more properly referred to as cracking.

However, in today’s world ethical hacking normally refers to the use of so-called white hat hacking skills to test computer security systems and ensure that they won’t let in people with malicious intent. Larger enterprise-level firms and academic organizations often want to attract people with hacking skills, so they can be sure that their security protocols are sufficient.

How Do You Become an Ethical Hacker?

Many companies with security concerns will be interested in hiring ethical hackers. You’ll need to fulfill a few requirements if you plan on making this a career, however. A computer science degree is often required, and will teach you many skills needed for the job. You’ll probably want to have plenty of experience with the kind of open-source operating systems that organizations use to power their servers. Numerous ethical hackers prefer these systems anyway due to their emphasis on Internet safety. Holding a network technician’s certification is usually helpful too, since it shows that you have an advanced understanding of how the Internet works.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing, or “pen testing,” is the art of attempting to crack into otherwise secure systems to check if their firewalls are working correctly. Some specialists write what’s called an ISO file to a thumb drive or SD card and boot their PCs off of them. This is so they can be sure they have a secure environment to work with. These environments usually come with a number of sophisticated tools that help ethical hackers conduct security experiments.

Is Ethical Hacking Legal?

Unlike crackers who commit acts of what’s essentially online information theft, ethical hackers don’t break the law. In fact, you might think of them as a specialized type of online detective. Companies actually actively seek out individuals who have these skills and hire them, so they can be sure that they’re resilient against the kind of threats that anyone on a network is subjected to on a daily basis. Some ethical hackers have even been hired by law enforcement agencies for the same reason.

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