When someone mentions the word “hacker,” several stereotypes are likely to spring to mind. A lot of people assume that hackers are predominantly young males who live at home and have nothing better to do than to cause mischief online. While this is in part true, it in no way represents the whole hacker culture. Often hackers are actually teams of people working together from all corners of the world and not all of them are up to criminal activity. Of course, there are teams of hackers out there who are trying to steal credit card numbers, information, identities, pirate software, and other illegal activities. These hackers are called black hat hackers. On the other hand, there are people who hack ethically in order to prevent cyber-crimes. These people are called white hat hackers. Often, ethical hackers are hired by corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies to test their defenses and software against computer attacks. In this tutorial to ethical hacking, we’ll provide an introduction to what ethical hacking is, who does it, how you can get started as an ethical hacker, and how much you ethical hackers get paid for their unique skills.
What is “ethical hacking”?
Ethical hackers, or white hat hackers, are often IT professionals and computer engineers and scientists.Their primary objective is to make sure that the client’s computer network and software are secure. In order to do this, ethical hackers must know how to find security breaches and how to implement defenses against these breaches on both the software and hardware levels. They must also be able to predict behavior of black hat hackers, to prevent future computer attacks that may steal personal data like place names, or they may disrupt business.
Ethical hackers are sometimes called “penetration testers.” Many times, ethical hackers start as black hackers, but quickly realize that they can make more money legally by offering their skills to major corporations or government agencies. In order to become an ethical hacker, it takes a great amount of computer knowledge. Hacking the computer systems of major corporations is not an easy task, despite what the entertainment industry would have people think. Instead, it often takes weeks or months of laborious work to even get a foothold into the system.
How to get started in Ethical Hacking
While no ethical hacking tutorial can ever hope to cover all the knowledge required to succeed an ethical hacker, we hope to provide some useful information as to the route you can take for acquiring thatknowledge. For people interested in ethical hacking, a degree in computer engineering or computer science is highly recommended. Hacking requires in-depth knowledge of the UNIX and NT operating systems that most businesses use run their computer systems and networks. This is important because it is often necessary to be able to go through many levels of the operating systems to get to deleted files or to find evidence of computer attacks. Ethical hackers also need knowledge about computer networking and how email and routing work, because of the rise in email and internet related crimes. Being able to work within the structure of the corporate world is also a skill that is necessary to be an ethical hacker. Often, corporations are constrained by budget and time. Their main goal is to ensure security while maximizing profit for their shareholders. Ethical hackers are often contracted out by corporations to work on projects, so being able to relate to the client how security implementations will affect the bottom line is important. Classes in business and economics are often helpful to ethical hackers so that they can learn how the corporate world thinks and operates. Finally, there are no current guidelines to certify that someone has the knowledge and expertise required to be an ethical hacker and to effectively diagnose and protect against security threats. However, a person can get a Certified Information Systems Security Professional certificate. This certification is offered through the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium and aims to ensure that a person is certified to work in computer security.
How much can you earn as an ethical white hat hacker?
Being an ethical hacker for a major corporation can be a lucrative and rewarding career. Corporations and governments lose billions of dollars every year through the crimes of black hat hackers. Often, ethical hackers are the first and the last line of defense that exist. Salary ranges for a skilled ethical hacker are generally solidly in the six figures, with top professionals earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The very best ethical hackers often start their own security consulting companies, where they can earn as much as $500 per hour to help corporations solve their most pernicious security riddles. Some ethical hackers also earn money and prestige participating in hacking contests held by companies testing security flaws, such as the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest where hackers earn $5,000 to $10,000 for each security flaw they uncover in major operating systems and browsers.