The terms ‘hacking’ and ‘hacker’ were coined in the 1960s when a computer system security was breached for the first time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, the terms have evolved and expanded in their scope in the computing community. Hacking is basically breaking into a computer or computer system by finding its vulnerabilities, with malicious intent. Hacking is illegal and the consequences of getting caught are severe.
What is Ethical Hacking? Organizations these days are using hacking as a precautionary measure, to identify bugs and expose chinks in their computer systems, to best protect their computer systems from cyber-attacks. The question arises: Is ethical hacking legal? Using the process of hacking in a positive manner, with due permission of the companies to find glitches in their systems, so that they could be fixed, is called Ethical Hacking. Professionals that provide hacking services by legal approval in a legitimate manner without any malicious intent are called Ethical Hackers.
Ethical Hacking is also known as penetration or pen testing and involves intruding practices and processes to discover any threats or cyber security weaknesses that can be exploited by a hacker. Ethical hackers find vulnerabilities in parts of computer systems like firewalls, websites, network passwords and come up with solutions that not only detect security threats and guard the reputation of a company but also help in inspiring customer confidence by protecting the client’s data and information.
More about ethical hacking: Ethical hacking also called ‘White Hat Hacking’ involves scanning, footprinting, and tackling all the secured information. Ethical means a philosophy with morality. Ethical hacking needs higher-level skills in comparison to penetration testing. Penetration testing is similar to ethical hacking but the hacker tests threats to security by using penetrating tools.
The ethical hacking process involves an in-depth knowledge of all components of the computer system by ethical hacker. As there are various modules of the computer system that are vulnerable to hacking, there are various types of ethical hacking involved in securing a system’s data. Some of them are listed below:
Ethical hacking also known as white hat hacking is performed in multiple ways. It may include using widely circulated online information about the company to infiltrate its websites and security systems by simulating attacks that could attack the systems. Another traditional way is to test the company’s firewalls, switches, routers etc. for security breaches. White hat hackers also try to hack into the organization’s wireless network to check its sturdiness against attacks.
The most common and relatable ethical hacking example is that it is used by makers of Operating Systems. Before launching their OS in the market, these organizations perform their own ethical hacks to their systems, to prevent possible attacks from real hackers later on. This can be seen as a quality control measure during the developmental phase of the OS, to make sure that all bugs, loopholes, and weaknesses are resolved before launching the final version for mass usage.
As already established, ethical hacking deals with identifying the bugs and vulnerabilities in a computer system or network and works towards strengthening the system against possible attacks. To have an in-depth understanding of the concept, understanding the basics of ethical hacking and hacking, in general, is essential. Hackers are generally sorted out according to their motives:
Ethical hacking is divided into six phases, that act as guidelines for using various ethical hacking techniques in this discipline. These six phases are Reconnaissance, Scanning, Gaining Access, Maintaining Access, Clearing Tracks, and Reporting.
Ethical hacking and cybersecurity are penetration testing devices and work towards the same goal, but with different methods and objectives. Though both deal with strengthening a computer network or system, there is a clear-cut difference between ethical hacking and cybersecurity.
Going by ethical hacking definition- it is the process of testing computer systems and networks against security breaches, to make sure that the system is fully secure and no hacker can bypass it. Cybersecurity on the other hand deals with securing the systems by mitigating the security risk involved by using appropriate security controls. Cybersecurity is an umbrella term that has ethical hacking as an important factor.
Cybersecurity deals with recognizing potential security issues, developing system protection, reporting violations, assessing security systems as a whole, performing regular audits around the systems, and keeping security updated by conducting regular system maintenance. Ethical hacking deals with breaching security by hacking into the system, exploiting and exposing the company’s weaknesses, and conducting penetration testing to enhance security.
So, both ethical hacking and cyber security work as two-pronged protection devices towards strengthening an organization’s security and protecting it against cyber-attacks.
In today’s world, when new bugs, worms, malware, viruses and ransomware are multiplying at an alarming rate, the need for ethical hacking services is paramount to safeguard the interests of businesses and their clients. Ethical hacking not only protects data from being stolen and misused but also works towards preventing security breaches, defending national security by protecting data from terrorist organizations and gaining customer trust by ensuring the safety of their data.
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