Before talking about Ethical Hacking, let’s discuss what hacking is. Hacking can be defined as the practice of modifying the features of a system, in order to accomplish a goal outside of the creator’s original purpose. In general words, hacking is the unauthorized use of computer and network resources. Some other specialists refer it to the hobby or profession of working with computers.
The person who is involving in hacking activities, and has accepted hacking as a lifestyle and philosophy of their choice, is called a hacker. These hackers get into the networks of all the other governments and organizations because this helps them to gain some money from it either directly or indirectly. They gain money directly because they are able to hack into the account of other people’s bank account and get money from the account. They gain from the hacking indirectly because they may be paid some money by various other organizations to get the data from the systems and networks of various other governments.
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The word hacking has strongly negative connotations and obvious is the right for the most part. But there is also a new term used i.e Ethical hacking. Ethical hacking is hacking that is done to help a company or individual identify potential threats on the computer or network. Ethical hacking is completely different from the kind of hacking that has been mentioned already. Ethical hacking is done when the person is able to get into the network of other organizations and the result of this hacking is used for the betterment of humanity.
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The information through ethical hacking does not remain secret at all. The ethical hacking process is also known as intrusion testing, penetration testing or red teaming. However, ethical hacking also gives s professional certification to the certified ethical hacker where the hacking of the computer system or some other devices takes place. This service had been made available to the people by the international council of e-commerce consultants. There are many ethical hacking tools and techniques.
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A company can’t know if its security system is solid unless they test it. It’s hard, though, for a company’s IT team to thoroughly ring out the system. An Ethical Hacker is an expert hired by a company and given ethical hacker training to attempt to attack their network and computer system the same way a hacker would. The organization trusts the ethical hacker as he is responsible for providing different services to the firm. Ethical Hackers use the same techniques and tactics as those used by illegal hackers to breach corporate security systems. The end result is the company’s ability to prevent an intrusion before it ever occurs. At first, it might sound strange that a company would pay someone to try to break into their system. But it is adopted in the real world. One of the earliest examples of using ethical hackers occurred in the 1970s. At this time, the United States government utilized the knowledge and services of groups of experts, referred to as red teams. They enlisted these ethical hackers to hack into the United States government’s computer system. Many large companies employ teams of ethical hackers to help keep their systems secure, such as IBM. There is a number of ethical hacker jobs available.
Types of Hackers
There are a number of different types of hackers depending on the activities they perform. Some of the main kinds of hackers are –
1. Whitehat Hackers: These are the individuals that perform ethical hacking to help secure companies and organizations. Their belief is that you must examine your network in the same manner as a criminal hacker to better understand its vulnerabilities. A white hacker does it with no criminal intent in mind. Companies around the world, who want to test their systems, contract white hackers. They will test how secure are their systems, and point any faults that they may find. They use their skills and knowledge as a way to defend someone from attackers. That means that white hat hackers offer their services to corporations, public organizations, and educational institutions.
2. SCRIPT KIDDIES: Script kiddie is a pejorative term for a computer intruder with little or no skill; a person who simply follows directions or uses a cookbook approach — typically using other people’s scripts and shellcodes — without fully understanding the meaning of the steps they are performing.
3. CRACKERS: Those who will enter your computer just for the fun of it, or prove their technical skills.
4. Gray-hat Hackers:
These individuals typically follow the law but sometimes venture over to the darker side of blackhat hacking. It would be unethical to employ these individuals to perform security duties for your organization as you are never quite clear where they stand.
5. Blackhat Hacker
A black hat hacker, also known as a cracker or a dark side hacker. He uses his skills with criminal intent. Some examples are: cracking bank accounts in order to make transference to their own accounts, stealing information to be sold in the black market, or attacking the computer network of an organization for money.
Some of well-known hackers and crackers are:
- Robert Morris — The son of a chief scientist at the NSA. Morris accidentally released the “Morris Worm” in 1988 from a Cornell University lab. This is now widely seen as the first release of a worm onto the Internet.
- Adrian Lamo — Known as the “Homeless Hacker” because of his transient lifestyle. Lamo spent his days squatting in abandoned buildings and traveling to Internet cafes, libraries, and universities to exploit security weaknesses in high-profile company networks, such as Microsoft, NBC, and the New York Times. He was eventually fined and prosecuted for the New York Times hack.
- Kevin Mitnick — Known as “Condor,” Mitnick was the first hacker to hit the FBI Most Wanted list. Broke into such organizations as Digital Equipment Corp., Motorola, Nokia Mobile Phones, Fujitsu, and others. He was arrested in 1994 and has now been released and works as a legitimate security consultant.
- Vladimir Levin — A Russian hacker who led a team of hackers who siphoned off $10 million from Citibank and transferred the money to bank accounts around the world. Levin eventually stood trial in the United States and was sentenced to three years in prison. Authorities recovered all but $400,000.00 of the stolen money.
Advantages of Ethical Hacking
There are various benefits of ethical hacking. Some of them are:
1. Fighting against terrorism and national security breaches
There are many terrorists and terrorist organizations that are trying to create havoc in the world with the use of computer technology. They break into various government defense systems and then use this for their terrorist activities. This can be prevented by using the services of ethical hackers who counter the terrorists by misleading them.
2. To take preventive action against hackers
The preventive action that is taken by the governments against the breaking of the networks saves money in billions of dollars as rectifying and building systems from scratch will cost a lot and also is very time taking. So the use of ethical hackers in doing this work of preventing the real hackers from getting to the important information helps save a lot of money and also time.
3. To build a system that helps prevent penetration by hackers
Ethical hacking is also used to try and test the existing defense systems. Ethical hackers are also used to build a foolproof system that prevents the breakdown of the existing system. Using the powers of the hackers to get a proper system built helps to prevent penetration by the hackers and saves the information in the various government networks.
Drawbacks of Ethical Hacking
As all things that have a good side always possess a bad side too. Some dishonest people present drawbacks too. The possible drawbacks of ethical hacking include:
- The ethical hacker using the knowledge they gain to do malicious hacking activities
- Massive security breach
- The possibility that the ethical hacker will send and/or place malicious code, viruses, malware, and other destructive and harmful things on a computer system.
- Allowing the company’s financial and banking details to be seen.
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