Introduction to Ethical Hacking

What is Hacking?

Hacking refers to activities that seek to gain unauthorized access to a degital device such as computer system, network by exploiting its weakness or vulnerability. Hacking can be done to steal and modify digital data.

Who is a Hacker?

A Hacker is an intelligent individual who finds and exploits the weakness or vulnerability in computer systems or networks to gain access. Hackers usually have excellent computer skills, along with the ability to create and explore the computer's software and hardware.

Types of Hackers

Hackers are classified according to the intent of their actions.

Ethical Hackers (White Hats): Ethical Hacker or White hats are individuals who use their skills for defensive purpose. They gain access to systems with a view to fix the identified weaknesses or vulnerabilities. They are also known as Penetration Tester.

Black Hats: Black hats are individuals who use their skills for illegal or malicious purpose. Black hats often involved in criminal activities. The are also known as Crackers.

Gray Hats: Gray hats are individuals who work both legally and illegally at different time.

Suicide Hackers: Suicide hackers are individuals who aim to bring down critical infrastructure and aren't worried at all about the consequence or the punishment they might face for their act.

Script Kiddies: Script kiddies are unskilled hackers who use tools, scripts and software developed by real hackers to access systems.

Cyber Terrorists: Cyber terrorists are individuals with a wide range of skills, motivated by religious or political beliefs, to create fear of large scale disruption of computer networks.

State-Sponsored Hackers: State-sponsored hackers are individuals employed by the government to access systems, gain top-secret information from other governments.

Hacktivist: Hacktivist are individuals who break into government or corporate computer systems to protest. The use their hacking skills to promote a political agenda, especially by defacing or disabling websites.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking involves finding weaknesses in a computer or network system for testing purpose. The main purpose of ethical hacking is to improve the security of the computer or network systems by fixing the vulnerabilities found during testing. Ethical hackers may use the same methods and tools used by the malicious hackers but with the permission of the authorized person for the purpose of improving the security and defending the systems from attacks by malicious users.

Ethical hackers must abide by the following rules:
  • Get written permission from the owner of the computer or network administrator before hacking.
  • Protect the privacy of the organization been hacked.
  • Transparently report all the identified weaknesses in the computer system to the organization.
  • Inform hardware and software vendors of the identified weaknesses.

Generally hacking is illegal, but if a hacker follow the above rules then it becomes legal. An ethical hacker follows these rules. 

Reasons why organizations recruit ethical hackers:
  • To prevent hackers from gaining access to the organization's information systems.
  • To identify vulnerabilities in systems and explore their potential as a risk.
  • To analyze and strengthen the security of computer or network systems.
  • To provide adequate preventive measures in order to avoid security breaches.
  • To protect the customers information.