Most people have heard of hacking, but what about ethical hacking? Internet users are unaware of the good that ethical hackers and ethical hacking can actually do. With the right technical skillset and knowledge base, ethical hackers can help society in ways almost impossible to imagine. Ethical hacking has a crucial role to play in the safety and security of any organisation. So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the importance of ethical hacking and maintaining integrity in cybersecurity.
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is another term used for penetration testing. Ethical hacking is the process of exploiting a computer network or system with permission granted from the owners. The ethical hacking process is conducted to identify and acknowledge any vulnerabilities on a computer network. This is then followed by remediation of the issues, using tried and test methodologies and the correct security tools. The results extracted from the ethical hacking test are used to strengthen and maintain online security not just for the system owners but also for the users.
When looking at the ethics of hacking, ethical hacking proves particularly useful in situations where there is a security threat to the entire system. In the event of data leaks, unethical hacking and password leaks, ethical hacking comes into play. Ethical hackers prepare and protect system owners against situations which can cause possible threats to their computer network. The main role of ethical hackers is to protect their clients from malicious actors and hackers and to tackle their destructive activities. The role of an ethical hacker falls under system defences – they work on their client’s computer network to find security weaknesses and implement an appropriate solution to combat a threat.
Ethical hackers are now gaining more attention and significance in the cybersecurity industry which has led to ethical hackers becoming an asset to companies right around the world. Not only are ethical hackers able to save and protect sensitive data but are also preventing reputation loss worth billions. Cybersecurity teams are now placing an emphasis on ethical hackers within their teams and corporations are budgeting for their inclusion to thwart attacks and to protect their businesses.
Why is Ethical Hacking so Important for Your Cyber Security?
Ethical hacking is an important part of any cybersecurity model because your data and information are valuable business assets. Organisations of all types and sizes hold sensitive data that needs to be protected for the sake of safeguarding the business itself along with the customer base associated with it. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at why ethical hacking is so important:
- Ethical hacking is used to test security systems. Implemented during the executing, managing, and designing stages of testing security systems, ethical hacking pinpoints security vulnerabilities and fixes them.
- Many leading organisations around the world offer bug bounty programs to find hidden bugs lurking on their sites. Bug bounty programs usually expect ethical hackers to find security vulnerabilities or technical bugs and then notify the organisation so they can act. Once the bug has been fixed the hacker will receive a reward. Big organisations like Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, and Instagram hire ethical hackers for this specific purpose.
- Ethical hacking can also be used to secure sensitive data from adversaries. It prevents malicious actors from exploiting a business or an individual within that organisation. Ethical hacking reduces the risk of being blackmailed or hacked by those with bad intentions.
- Ethical hacking also plays a key role in the security and safety of nations around the globe. Nation states and state-funded organisations often hire ethical hackers to prevent terrorist attacks and stop cyber terrorism. What’s more, government-employed personnel often hire ethical hackers to protect their privacy.
- Ethical hackers are trained to think just like a real hacker. They can sniff out issues quickly and find a potential entry point for any security vulnerabilities.
- Ethical hackers can also provide security assistance to many domains related to CS and IT systems like risk management, software developers, network defenders, and quality assurance testers.
- Ethical hackers ensure that software functions are executed swiftly and test them under standard and extreme security systems.
- Once security vulnerabilities have been pinpointed, ethical hackers can develop methodologies and testing tools to avoid a similar situation occurring in the future.
What Types of Ethical Hacking Do You Get?
There are many different ways in which an ethical hacker can penetrate a security system or network. Based on the way they access the security network or security system and execute the hacking process; they can be classified as follows:
Web Application Hacking
Web application hacking, aka web app hacking, is when weaknesses and vulnerabilities are exploited in web applications to gain unauthorised access, perform malicious activities, or manipulate data.
The practice involves identifying security flaws in web apps and leveraging them to compromise their confidentiality, integrity, or availability. Web applications are software programs that run on web servers and are accessed through web browsers. Web applications can be used for e-commerce, online banking, social media, and more. These types of web applications can often have security vulnerabilities which can be easily exploited by malicious actors.
In system hacking, also known as network hacking, hackers gain access to the networks to steal sensitive data. System hacking is achieved once a hacker gains access to any computer network or server. System hacking is executed on computer networks and servers which results in a huge loss of data in one go. Ethical hackers spend a lot of time reviewing the security levels of a computer network or server to prevent any malicious activities by unethical hackers.
Web Server Hacking
Web server hacking makes it extremely easy for malicious actors to steal data and information available on the web. Unethical hackers take part in impersonation of identity to steal sensitive data like bank account details, addresses, passwords and more. Web server hacking involves a hacking practice called “sniffing attacks” to seek out information on the internet. Web server hackers are found in various cyber security departments. Ethical hackers are now in high demand all around the world due to this method of hacking.
Wireless Network Hacking
Wireless network hacking is the most common type of hacking seen today. Open public Wi-Fi networks provide wireless network hackers with an easy pass to access your data. Wireless networks function by communicating with radio waves which make them easy to hack from nearby locations. Ethical hackers can be used in a similar way by large-scale organisations to test remote working practices to ensure they are safe and secure and the company’s assets are protected.
Understand the Different Types of Hackers
Understanding the different types of hackers means starting off with the good and the bad. Ethical hackers use their knowledge to secure and improve the technology of organisations while unethical hackers break the computing code of ethics, laws, and regulations for a malicious purpose. Now that the distinction between ethical hackers and unethical hackers has been determined, both types of hackers work within three main categories.
Using various different methodologies and intentions, the three different types of hackers work in the following ways:
- Black hat hackers
A black hat hacker’s goal is to cause digital havoc and attain financial gain. They steal, discard, or alter data in order to cause financial loss to the owner. Black hat hackers are the reason why there are so many misconceptions surrounding ethical hacking today.
- White hat hackers
White hat hackers are classed as true ethical hackers. They seek permission from the owner before gaining entry to a computer network or computer system. White hat hackers are in high demand in many non-technical and technical organisations to safeguard their information and sensitive data.
- Grey hat hackers
Grey hat hackers sit between white and black hat hackers. They seek some sort of financial gain for finding a bug in the computer network system. Grey hat hackers have an ambiguous nature, and their behaviour will depend on the ethics of the individual concerned.
Examples of Ethical Hacking
Ethical hackers use their skills and knowhow to not only improve the technology of organisations but also bolster their security. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a few examples to give you a better idea of how ethical hacking works:
Lone ethical hackers
Mark Litchfield is a star in ethical hacking circles. In 2019, the BBC conducted a report in which it was revealed by Litchfield that he made more than US$1.5 million by finding bugs in the websites and applications of top organisations like Yahoo! Litchfield is one of many white hat hackers who enter the industry for the knowledge and prestige that it provides them. The financial gains are significant, and they are respected by cybersecurity professionals. Lone hackers like Litchfield work day and night to improve their skills for the betterment of society.
Ethical hacking groups
There are many different ethical hacking groups around the globe. Group members are not necessarily from the same part of the world, but they work together on one web and help the clients that seek them out. Many ethical hacking groups have discovered major bugs in the websites and applications of top companies and the financial rewards can sometimes be immense.
Examples of Unethical Hacking
Unethical hackers use their knowledge for a malicious purpose all the while breaking the computing code of ethics, laws, and regulations. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a few examples to give you a better idea of how unethical hacking works:
Ashley Madison case, 2015
Ashley Madison was a dating website hacked in 2015 by a group called The Impact Team who demanded the site be shut down or they would release customer data. The hacking group claimed the site encouraged extramarital affairs. In the end, the group released about 60 GB of data, blaming the deceptive tactics used by the website as its motivation.
Marriott case, 2018
In 2018, the Marriot hotel group reported a security database incident. A group of hackers stole the confidential data of nearly 320 million customers. The information consisted of phone numbers, addresses, email addresses and reservation details. The hackers sold the stolen data to third parties and the Marriot group suffered major financial and reputational losses.
British Airways case, 2018
British Airways’ customer database was hacked in 2018 using only 22 lines of code. More than 380,000 customers’ credit card details were compromised, and the reputation of the airline was severely damaged. Following the incident, many airlines around the world realised that they needed to improve their cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data and information.
Maintaining Data Integrity in Cybersecurity
Ethical hacking can help your business go a long way toward maintaining data integrity in cybersecurity. Compromised data is of no use to any organisation. Maintaining data integrity is key in cybersecurity because it ensures that data remains intact, consistent, accurate and reliable. It can also help prevent data breaches, maintain the trust of customers, partners, and stakeholders, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
What Qualifications Does an Ethical Hacker Require?
An ethical hacker should have extensive computer knowledge, digital skills and coding experience, and some kind of background in cybersecurity. Ethical hackers often specialise in a particular subject or area of expertise within the ethical hacking domain.
There are no physical qualifications required to become a lone ethical hacker, but a recognised qualification would help for when it comes to securing work within large organisations or well-known cybersecurity firms. Cybersecurity courses provided by educational platforms like Knowledgehut are a good place to start.
Do You Need Ethical Hacking When Protected by RiskXchange?
Ethical hacking has a crucial role to play in the safety and security of any organisation. However, sophisticated security measures implemented by leading cybersecurity firms like RiskXchange afford you the greatest digital protection anyone could possibly imagine. Protect your company from hacking with RiskXchange.
RiskXchange is the global standard for enterprise and third-party cyber risk score ratings and cyber risk analysis. RiskXchange provides a simple, automated and centralised risk management solution that enables organisations to manage their own cyber risk score as well as ensuring their suppliers and third-party partners meet GDPR requirements.
RiskXchange provides a 360° view of the Enterprise Cyber Risk Posture using AI Machine Learning. A simple, clear, and informative dashboard enables senior executives to see in real time their Enterprise and Third-Party Cyber Risk Score position, helping them to make informed and measurable business risk decisions.
RiskXchange’s integrated suite of cybersecurity services and products provides data-driven insights that help companies prevent security breaches. RiskXchange is a great place to start if you want to improve your cybersecurity rating, protect your data, and prevent attacks. RiskXchange is also the best platform for protecting your organisation against third-party cybersecurity risks and compliance risks.
RiskXchange offers a unique service that integrates seamlessly with our managed, third-party risk management program. RiskXchange can continuously monitor your attack surface to prevent data breaches and information leakage. It can also discover and report on a wide variety of cybersecurity issues.
Ethical Hacking FAQs
Why is ethical hacking important for cyber security?
Ethical hacking is important for cybersecurity because it is used to secure crucial data from adversaries. Ethical hacking helps prevent malicious actors from exploiting the organisation or an individual. It also helps bolster cybersecurity measures and reduces the risk of getting blackmailed.
What are the important benefits of ethical hacking?
There are many important benefits of ethical hacking. It helps to take preventive action against hackers which provides a foundation for building a system that prevents any kinds of penetration by malicious actors. This not only offers added security to financial and banking establishments but also helps to identify and close any security gaps in any computer network or system.
Can ethical hacking be used as a tool to improve cyber security?
Employing the use of ethical hackers is beneficial to companies in many ways but most importantly to improve cybersecurity. Ethical hacking can improve cybersecurity by detecting possible vulnerabilities and weaknesses while at the same time offering workable solutions.
Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about the importance of ethical hacking: maintaining integrity in cyber security.