This article will explore the definition of ethical hacking, including how it differs from black hat hacking. The dangers of not following an ethical approach to hacking are also discussed.
Ethical hackers are very different than black-hat hackers. Ethical hackers follow a code of ethics which includes respecting the privacy and intellectual property rights of others, as well as avoiding destruction or disruption of systems that may be used by third parties uninvolved in their work on behalf of a client.
In contrast, black hat hackers do not abide by these rules and often use malicious techniques such as exploiting vulnerabilities to gain access to data they shouldn't have access to or installing malware onto someone's computer system without authorization with the intent for personal monetary gain or other personal benefit at a later date.
Many people who perform penetration testing and vulnerability assessments identify as ethical hackers, but dictionaries use a much broader definition for an ethical hacker. Ethical hacking is defined as "the unauthorized penetration testing of computer or network systems with the intent to expose flaws in security." This means that the term 'ethical hacker' can refer to anyone who is penetration testing- whether or not they are abiding by an ethical code of conduct.
For more information on the difference between black hat hackers and white hat hackers, see the article entitled, "Is Penetration Testing Legal?"
Ethical hacking can be used for good purposes; however some companies use it to cover their tracks when they have broken the law. For example, in 2014 The Daily Dot reported that Uber used several techniques to trick Apple employees into believing that iPhones were malfunctioning after it was found that Uber did not want its drivers to be tracked using their app. They then used ethical hacking methods to cover up these tracks and avoid getting caught for what they had done.
Ethical hacking is also used to exploit vulnerabilities in software that was developed by a company who refused to fix the problem. Hacking Team, an infamous Italian company which sells spyware and hacking tools to government agencies, was hacked in 2015 and it was revealed that they had sold software with security flaws and would refuse to fix them so they could continue using the exploit to spy on their customers.
Another reason why ethical hacking is controversial is because when an attack occurs or a security breach takes place, the person who was responsible for securing that network could be fired for not performing their job properly. Many organizations are under tight deadlines when it comes to fixing issues which makes them take drastic measures by hiring someone to penetrate their network to find the flaws first, fire whoever was responsible for not fixing it first and then hiring someone else.
The controversial nature of ethical hacking results in many IT professionals refusing to call themselves an 'ethical hacker', even though they are penetration testing using ethical methods.
The six phases of ethical hacking are as follows:
1. Reconnaissance: research and reconnaissance,
The first step in ethical hacking is reconnaisance. With this phase, the hacker will research and gather information about the target. This can be accomplished through public records or other social media sites. They also investigate what the competition is up to, which includes finding out what security measures are in place; it's important to make sure they are similar to the ones that you're planning on attacking. They will then create a mental map of how to get into their target, including any potential obstacles that may exist between them and their goal.
2. Gaining Access: discover and exploit vulnerabilities
After reconnaisance, the ethical hacker will move on to phase two, also known as Gaining Access. This can be done through exploiting weaknesses in security controls or by gathering unauthorized information about the target. The point of this phase is for an attacker to gain important information about the network without getting caught, which includes gaining access to a network's computers, software and data records.
3. Enumeration: reveal additional systems and information
The third phase of ethical hacking is called enumeration. Enumeration is when the hacker starts gathering data to find out what they can do to get more information about the target. Ethical hackers will usually use methods like looking at active directory, finding sensitive files or searching for vulnerable services, all without getting caught by the system's security measures. The goal of this phase is to gather as much information about the target as possible to know what they can do with it.
4. Maintaining Access: use access as a pivot point to achieve one's end goal
The fourth phase of ethical hacking is called Maintaining Access. This is when the hacker maintains their access to the system that they gained in Phase 2 by relying on that access as a pivot point for achieving the end goal. The goal of this phase is to remain undetected and keep penetrating deeper into the target's network until they find what they're looking for.
5. Covering Tracks: how hackers cover up their tracks
The fifth phase of ethical hacking, Covering Tracks, is all about avoiding getting caught for what they have done or preventing traceability of the attack. A common way of doing this is by using one proxy to send packets so no one knows where they originated from and then using another proxy to receive packets so no one knows where they're going. Another way of hiding their tracks is by using a virtual private network to access the target's place of business, which will make it appear as though they work there and are therefore allowed to be in the building.
6. Reporting Findings: provide complete documentation
The final phase of ethical hacking is about reporting. In this phase, the hacker will provide a complete documentation of what they have done and how they did it. This documentation will include a detailed analysis of the attack and recommendations on how to best fix any weaknesses in security measures. The goal of this phase is to show what can happen if these weaknesses aren't fixed and how future attacks can be prevented.
The goal of ethical hacking is to identify weaknesses in a system's security measures and make recommendations for how they can be fixed. To do this, the hacker will use reconnaisance techniques like public records or social media sites to gather information about the target before moving on to phases two through six. If you're interested in learning more about what it means to hack ethically, continue reading our blog post that goes into detail on all seven phases of ethical hacking!
In recent years, hacking has focused on the negative side of computer security. Hackers are much more likely to steal or corrupt information, hack private networks or email accounts ,or engage in cyber warfare. However, ethical hackers are computer security experts who put their skills to work for companies by improving their online defenses rather than breaking them down. Ethical hacking is one of the latest growing careers in information technology.
To avoid confusion, there are a few important points to note about ethical hackers. First, they do not engage in criminal activity like malicious hackers do. Second, they are hired by companies to find their security vulnerabilities so that the company can fix them before criminals have a chance to exploit them. Third, ethical hackers are not paid for their work uncovering vulnerabilities. Instead, they usually receive a salary and benefits from the company who hires them to find weaknesses in its system.
Ethical hacking has been compared to penetration testing . The difference is that the ethical hacker performs the test with permission from the company while a penetration tester performs the test against a company's systems without its knowledge. Ethical hacking is also much more thorough than penetration testing because it includes a variety of tests instead of just one.
Many companies have ethical hackers perform regular audits simply to ensure that their security measures are effective and any weaknesses have been fixed. While many people enjoy being able to work from home, some ethical hackers still prefer to physically go to their client's office or headquarters. These ethical hackers often rely on public transportation, carpooling with other employees, or simply taking a taxi to and from work.
Companies that use ethical hackers generally provide extensive training for them as well as the necessary equipment and software they need to perform their job. Ethical hackers are required to have extensive knowledge of computer systems, cryptography , malware , and hacking . It is important that the company use only the best ethical hackers for their staff because it could very well be their system's defense against cybercriminals.
Once a company has determined what sort of system its ethical hacker will need, it needs to find the right person for the job. Employees are usually chosen based on their previous experiences in information technology, an understanding of computer security , and their past work with related technologies. Helping to keep information secure is a very important task, so companies often need to find employees who will take this responsibility seriously.
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