This article is mainly addressing the audience who wants to pursue their career in Cybersecurity as a professional that provides ethical hacking services, whether it be a red team, blue team, or freelance infosec consultant.
As an ethical hacker, you not only need to have prior knowledge of basic networking, programming languages, and security tool guidelines, but a hands-on practice on these theoretical concepts is mandatory.
Why Hands-on Learning is Essential for Ethical Hacking
Ethical hacking is a practical approach in which white hat hackers try to penetrate the network. The goal of an ethical hacker is to identify vulnerabilities and try to exploit them to determine the extent of the compromise under a defined scope. This job requires a set of technical skills that can only obtain from lab oriented training.
Lab-based ethical hacking training helps you get exposure to how things work in the real world and will train you to perform specific tasks. If we compare this with traditional classroom training, we come to know that previous methods are only focusing on theoretical knowledge, not enough for cybersecurity professionals. These methods ignore all practical implementations; hence students have a large gap of grades while comparing to on paper and their actual performance.
By analyzing all these methods, instructors have come to make hands-on learning essential, especially for an ethical hacker. By learning practical implementations, individuals can learn different concepts of real-time problems that develop their hands-on skills.
Practical Techniques Used in Ethical Hacking
For ethical hacking, you need to have some hacking skills and exposure to the methodologies often used by malicious actors. Following are the few basic hacking techniques used in ethical hacking:
- Performing port scanning to find vulnerabilities. There are various scanning tools used by ethical hackers to perform port scanning of the target network. While port scanning, ethical hackers find open ports and try to study the vulnerabilities associated with each port.
- Perform network traffic analysis by sniffing IP packets. There are many tools available to perform network sniffing.
- Ensuring the target system to not affected by new vulnerabilities. For this purpose, ethical hackers often try to analyze the process of patch installation.
- Make attempts to intrude intrusion detection systems, firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and honeypots.
- Perform various social engineering techniques to find information against the target organization’s computing environment.
To be ‘job-ready,’ one ought to have hands-on learning on different hacking techniques. This, combined with both theoretical knowledge and practical implementation training, guarantees that you have the essential aptitudes to
enter the industry. Fortunately, there are many platforms available to get this combined package of learning a lab-intrinsic ethical hacking program.
Top 3 Cybersecurity Certifications to Become an Ethical Hacker
CEH – Hands-on Training Program Verifies Your Advanced IT Security Skill-Set
EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a certification program that combines both theoretical knowledge and hands-on learning. It comprises of different modules that start with the basics, modes of penetration testing, tools demonstration, and more. The training gives you the required knowledge on everything from analyzing to exploiting the defined scope of IT infrastructure.
The Practical Approach of CEH
1. CEH is a complete ethical hacking program dealing with 20 of the most current security areas.
2. 40% of the program is comprising of hands-on learning.
3. The syllabus covers 340 attack methodologies mostly used by malicious hackers.
4. The certification trains you in the scope of five phases of ethical hacking. These phases are information gathering, scanning, gaining access, maintaining access, and clearing tracks.
CEH is the most recognized training program of ethical hacking in the industry. There is another training program, a follow-up to the CEH i.e. CEH (Practical). The CEH (Practical) is entirely based on hands-on learning, and the examination is all comprised of practical tasks.
Offensive Security Certified Professional – Hands-on Penetration Testing with Kali Linux
The OSCP certification is a well-known foundational penetration testing practical training, intended for cybersecurity professionals to ignite their skill set at a swift pace. It will help to learn the latest ethical hacking tools and techniques to get expert in penetration testing. Learning material provides:
- A detailed course guide
- Complete video lectures by professionals
- Active student forums
- Access to a virtual penetration testing lab
The final exam has a 24-hour time limit and comprising of a hands-on penetration test in an isolated VPN network.
You will get the exam and connectivity instructions for an isolated virtual network for which you have no prior knowledge or information. Scores are awarded for each compromised host, based on their difficulty and level of access obtained.
After completing the tasks, you will submit a comprehensive penetration test report as part of your exam. Reports should cover in-depth notes and screenshots detailing your findings. This exam is proctored.
After gaining this certification, the certified OSCPs can identify severe vulnerabilities and can execute organized cyber-attacks. They can modify exploits, execute network pivoting, and data exfiltration.
GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)- A Process-Oriented Approach To Penetration Testing Projects
This certification verifies an ethical hacker’s ability to perform a penetration test. GPEN certified has developed skills to conduct exploits and perform detailed reconnaissance. The main features of this certification include:
- The complete guide of comprehensive penetration test planning and reconnaissance
- In-depth knowledge of scanning and exploitation
- Additional methods to attack password hashes and authenticate
- Domain escalation and persistence attacks
- Penetration testing with PowerShell and the windows command line
GIAC developed CyberLive hands-on, real-world practical testing lab environment to let the practitioner validates their knowledge and hands-on skills.
A practitioner will able to perform real-world attacks with actual programs, codes, and virtual machines. The final exam comprises 1 proctored exam, 82-115 questions, a time limit of 3 hours, and a minimum passing score of 75.
The summary is, if you want to be an expert in ethical hacking, you need to understand the real-world scenarios and have the exposure of real hacking incidents. You need to think exactly like a malicious hacker to find all the loopholes, risks, vulnerabilities, and timely mitigate them. This can only be done by getting hands-on training, polishing the required set of skills by trying to attempt hacking techniques and gain valuable certifications that have been discussed above to make your resume worthy of the desired job.