The world is relying on the internet increasingly every day. Banking, e-commerce, social media, and all manner of government and industrial systems are now online. But what happens when the bad guys decide to have some fun – havoc ensues. The cost of cybercrime damage is set to hit $6 trillion by 2021. Preventing such attacks is therefore rapidly becoming big business!
To avoid the risks of being hacked, organisations need assurance that their website and systems are not vulnerable to an attack. Most of the work is in the construction of protective systems that prevent unwanted hackers from entering the system.
These systems need to be tested before they can be relied upon. This is where ethical hackers or “white hat’s” come in. An ethical hacker will evaluate an organisations security policies and systems, looking for any potential vulnerabilities. To find these issues, they will pretend to be a hacker and hack the system!
What skills do I need to become an ethical hacker?
To become a hacker (whether White Hat or Black Hat), you must possess several skills. Some of the most common include:
- Computer networking – one of the most critical skills is a strong understanding of IP networks, WAN’s, firewalls, and the internet. Most vulnerabilities are going to be found in poorly designed and configured systems.
- Rapid problem solving – hackers need to be quick-thinkers, flexible, and ready to change direction at a moments notice. People who are good at playing Chess or Tetris will often make good hackers. You cannot merely follow a step by step guide.
- Programming skills – as a hacker, you are up against a wall of computer code. To understand where vulnerabilities may lie, you must put yourself in the programmer’s shoes. Think about where they are likely to have taken short cuts, what problems they may have too short of time to fix etc. The choice of language you should be familiar with will depend on what type of system you are trying to hack. For example, you may want to learn swift if you intend on hacking iOS Apps and systems.
- Persistence – hacking is never easy. Be prepared for long nights and regular failure/frustration. Just remember as a White Hat, the harder it is and the more frustrating, the better the client’s system is.
Where can I learn to be an ethical hacker?
Becoming an ethical hacker is never going to be easy. Several years of experience working with computers is required to become a top-class hacker. In the past, there was no such thing as ethical hacking – the only hackers were the bad guys. There was no training available, and the best hackers figured it out themselves. Luckily today, ethical hacking is considered a mainstream occupation. So, why not try out an ethical hacking course? This will give you all the skills you need to become an ethical hacker.
Becoming an ethical hacker is both challenging and rewarding. Luckily, there are many courses available that teach the best practices along with the ethics of White Hat. While it may be tempting to apply your newly found skills to some less ethical hacking, remember you face many years in jail! So, please keep it clean, and enjoy an exciting new world of thrilling problem-solving.