In today’s digital world, the growing number of data breaches demonstrates the continuous rise of invasive threats businesses face. As a result, companies are challenged with implementing effective measures to minimize threat impacts while simultaneously maintaining daily processes. This cyberwar puts businesses at risk and brand loyalty in jeopardy. No organization is off limits to the cyber attacker. Businesses are challenged with the question, “Is my organization’s network security strong enough?”
What’s the Problem?
Let’s start by defining a data breach, like the ones portrayed in the news. A data breach is a security incident in which sensitive or classified data is copied, scanned, or acquired by an unauthorized user.
As a business, you might ask yourself these questions:
- How easy would it be for someone to steal our corporate information?
- What is the likelihood that we will be hacked by someone?
- What damage could a hacker implement on my business?
Nothing in our digital world is out of bounds for malicious hackers. As organizations increase their use of technology to support teaching and work remotely, hackers continue to prey on under-resourced technology departments. It is time for that to change!
What is Ethical Hacking?
A key component of any security program is ensuring that the organization has a clear understanding of where risks reside. It is widely agreed upon that quality assurance for software is both sensible and necessary before pushing the software to production. This is because it’s good business practice to ensure that the code works as expected. The testing verifies that your production systems are secure.
Like this idea, one of the most effective ways to understand weaknesses within an organization is with a penetration test/ethical hacking assessment. Ethical hacking is structured hacking performed to expose vulnerabilities in a system, using tools and techniques with the organization’s knowledge.
There are many ways to look at ethical hacking today. Above all, being able to perform an assessment to replicate actions of an external or/and internal threat to test for insecurities is invaluable to organizations trying to increase cyber resiliency.
Penetration testing with an ethical hacker also plays a vital role in evaluating and maintaining the security of a system or network. The testing helps locate security gaps, proactively identify threats, and measure probability of attacks against your organization. Ethical hacking helps an organization adopt best practices, validate the efficiency of security products and services, and gain and/or maintain compliance requirements for their industry.
The Phases of Ethical Hacking
Methodology plays a crucial role in the success of a pen-test. Lack of pen-test methodology results in no consistency. Methodology ensures that the exercise is done in a standard manner with documented and repeatable results for a given security posture. This practice helps the ethical hacker plan their testing/attack strategy according to the input gained in the preceding phases of the testing process. It has been observed that hackers target networks/systems in a strategic manner. These manners are broken into three separate phases: pre-attack, attack, and post-attack.
The pre-attack phase focuses on foot printing the organization. Information is gathered about the target organization. One example of an exercise during the pre-attack phase is targeting employees by trying to discover their email address and phone number. This information will be used to build an attack profile to aid the ethical hacker in assessing the organization’s security posture.
The attack phase occurs during the penetration test. The ethical hacker builds an exploit to compromise a targeted system in efforts to demonstrate impact. The use of an exploit to test system resiliency is one of the primary differences between a vulnerability assessment and penetration test.
The post-attack phase is the final phase of ethical hacking. Here, the penetration tester builds a report to deliver information discovered during the test to advise the organization on the results obtained. This report will help advise the organization on the various levels of vulnerabilities discovered and to what extent an attacker could damage the assets of that organization.
How Can I Become an Ethical Hacker?
Does this information spark your interest? Do you think you could be an asset in helping companies fight back against cyber-attacks? If you answered “yes” to these questions, the best way to make a difference is by becoming a certified ethical hacker with the EC-Council CEH and CompTIA PenTest+ certifications. Penetration testing and ethical hacking share a lot of standard features and are commonly used interchangeably, but there are small distinctions between the two. Because of the complimentary nature of these two certifications, we are now offering these classes as a combined course and an opportunity to dual certify in both!
This combination course will immerse you into the “Hacker Mindset,” so you will be able to defend against future attacks. This course puts you in the driver’s seat of a hands-on environment with a systematic process. You will scan, test, hack, and secure your own systems.
Areas of focus as an ethical hacker:
- Web Applications Attacks and Countermeasures
- Wireless Attacks and Countermeasures
- Cloud Attacks and Countermeasures
- IoT Attacks and Countermeasures
- Mobile Attacks and Countermeasures
- Malware Attacks and Countermeasures
- Physical Attacks and Countermeasures
Ethical hackers learn and perform hacking to help reveal potential consequences of a real attacker breaking into a network. Performing a penetration test will help organizations reach a balance between limiting business agility and falling victim to a compromise by an external attacker.