Hacking is an attempt to access valuable information from a computer system without
any permission or approval from the owner of the system or organization. In simple terms, it looks like a mischievous act but it actually needs a lot of intelligence and expertise to break into the computer system or network. It is a process of identifying the weakness or vulnerabilities in the system and exploiting it for their personal gain. For instance, like cracking (discovering) the system password, penetrating into the networks, and interrupt the network services to steal the online bank account or card details transferred through the Internet. The people who perform hacking are called as computer criminals or cybercriminals.
Classification of Hackers
Generally, hackers can be classified into 3 types. The first category, Black hat hackers try to find loopholes and weaknesses in the system and hack to take control over it for their personal benefits. They can destroy ( by introducing bugs or viruses), steal ( transfer money from bank accounts), or sell valuable information about the system. This is illegal or malicious hacking.
The next category, White hat hackers are hackers who identify the system vulnerabilities, fix them, and keep the data secure and more hackproof. We shall discuss these ethical hackers in greater detail, a little later.
The final category, Grey hat hackers include those curious people who hack for fun. They may both fix and exploit the vulnerabilities, but usually not for financial gain. Even if not malicious, their work can still be illegal, if done without the target system owner’s consent.
Ethical Hacking ….?
Ethical Hacking is about improving the security of computer systems and/or computer networks. This process is fully planned, approved, and legal.
Importance of Ethical Hacking
Information is one of the most valuable assets of any industry or organization. Keeping information secure is vital to protect an organization’s image(trust) and save an organization a lot of money.
Hacking can lead to loss of business for organizations that deal in finance such as banks and payment systems like PayPal. Ethical hacking gives them a competitive edge over cybercriminals who would otherwise lead to the financial loss of business.
They are certified cybersecurity experts ( CEH – Certified Ethical Hacking Professional). They are usually employed by the target system’s owner and are typically paid for their job. Their work is not illegal because it is done with the system owner’s consent. They use the same methods and tools used by Black hat hackers. They attack the system to look for the potential loopholes in the system and make efforts to perfectly fix those security holes. They may also perform Penetration Testing and vulnerability checks to test the system’s defense network.
Ethical hackers usually get written permission from the owner of the computer system and/or computer network before starting the procedure. They safeguard the privacy of the organization being hacked. They give a detailed report clearly specifying all the weaknesses spotted out in the computer system to the management. If needed, they communicate to the hardware and software vendors too.
Skills needed to become an Ethical Hacker
Programming skills (HTML & scripting basics) are essential to becoming an effective hacker.
Network skills and SQL skills are also essential.
Full-fledged Knowledge of using the Internet , Operating systems ( Windows, Mac, Linux, etc) is needed.
Hacking tools are programs that simplify the process of finding out and exploiting weaknesses in computer systems.
Netsparker, Acunetix, Intruder, SaferVPN, Burp Suite, GFI LanGuard, HP WebInspect, Medusa, Nessus, etc to name a few.
Ethical hacking comes with a price and is well suited for bigger firms. The below few tips might be useful for startups. A two-way firewall setup may be used. The operating system must be updated with security patches regularly. Browser security settings must be increased. The software must be downloaded from trustworthy sites.