Ethical Hacking

What is Ethical Hacking? A Beginner’s Guide

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Ethical Hacker

Hacking is usually perceived to be a harmful activity based on the fact that most hacking exploits that make the news are negative. Contrary to the image the media paints about hackers, there is also ethical hacking.

Ethical hacking is a term used to describe the process of identifying potential threats on a system by hacking it. The person who does this is called an ethical hacker.

Most importantly, ethical hackers seek to understand security problems that exist with technologies to prevent exploitation by malicious hackers. 

What is ethical hacking

This type of hacking takes different forms from system hacking, web application hacking, and web server hacking to hacking wireless networks, and social engineering.

Although ethical hackers do not have the same intention as malicious hackers, they still have to think like them. This thought process allows them to identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited by other hackers.

Your hacking activity is ethical if it follows these principles:

  • Permission: Ethical hackers always seek authorization before conducting penetration tests.
  • Respect for privacy: Ethical hackers respect the privacy of individuals on a platform and the company behind the platform.
  • Ethical hackers close loopholes found during their test to prevent other hackers from taking advantage of them.
  • Finally, ethical hacking requires you to inform software developers of the cracks you found in their code to help them improve their platform.

Ethical hackers usually check for changes in sensitive data, data breaches, and injection attacks.

How Can You Become An Ethical Hacker?

Anyone can become an ethical hacker, provided you have the required skills. Ethical hacking is a viable job in the information and communication sector.

To become an ethical hacker, you need to have programming knowledge, scripting knowledge, networking skills, database knowledge, and a professional level of proficiency in the use of various operating systems.

Famous Ethical Hackers

Joanna Rutkowska

Rutkowska is a cybersecurity researcher from Poland. She has built an operating system called Qubes OS, which focuses on user security.

Her ethical hacking presentation in 2006 made her popular in hacking circles. She demonstrated the vulnerabilities in the Visa kernel during her presentation at the black hat briefing conference.

She went ahead to give more presentations on hardware security loopholes, including an attack that targeted Intel Systems. Joana Ruthkowska has become a significant feature at several cybersecurity conferences worldwide.

Charlie Miller

Popularly known as one of the few hackers to kill the myth that Apple devices are secure, Miller has been exposing vulnerabilities in Apple products since 2007.

In 2008, he won the Pwn2Own contest in Vancouver. Charles Miller was the first to locate a critical MacBook Air bug at the hackathon. 

In addition, he also discovered a bug the following year connected to the Safari browser. He won $10,000 and $5,000 respectively for his ethical hacking exploits in those two years.

Mark Abene

Phiber Optik, real name Mark Abene, is a famous ethical hacker who pioneered changing the perception of white hat hackers. Optik was a prolific hacker in the late 80s and 90s.

Moreover, he debated and defended the definite advantages of hacking as an essential tool for the ever-growing tech industry. Optik worked for UBS, First USA, KPMG, and American Express.

Check out the Top 10 Best Hacking Books for Ethical Hackers in 2020 to understand what it takes to become an ethical hacker.

What is a White Hat Hacker?

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white hat hacker

The word “hacker” is often synonymous with cybercrime. But not all hacking is criminal or malicious. Hacking itself is not illegal. It is only illegal when a hacker compromises a system or network without the owner’s authorization. White hat hackers, for example, help businesses with their hacking skills.

In this guide, you will learn about white hat hackers, also known as ethical hackers, who help businesses secure their IT systems.

The Profile of a White Hat

Also known as a certified ethical hacker or ethical hacker, a white hat hacker is a computer security specialist who compromises systems and networks with the intent of testing and assessing their security stability. Simply put, white hat hacking entails hacking for a legal reason.

white hat hacking

Unlike black hats, a white hat hacker helps organizations to identify security gaps and blocks them before the bad guys take advantage. Since white hackers are familiar with the tactics used by black hackers, they are best suitable for the job.

When employed by an organization, a white hat hacker may choose to assume cybersecurity titles. Classic white hat hacker job titles include network security analyst, IT security engineer, and cybersecurity analyst.

Due to the fierce competition in the world of cybersecurity, hackers often acquire several additional security certifications and technical certifications.

Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker

A white hat hacker’s responsibility goes beyond checking for system vulnerabilities. They can also include educating staff on the latest cybersecurity risks and setting up security policies to ensure best practice among IT personnel. Additionally, white hats may also develop new tools that businesses can use to protect their systems.

Not all hackers are evil. White hat hackers are the good guys of the hacking world. They are the Jedis in a world full of Sith.

How Much Can You Earn As A Certified Ethical Hacker?

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Certified Ethical Hacker

One of the most asked questions by those starting out their hacking career is: “How much does a certified ethical hacker make?”

In this guide, we will look at the different pay scales for ethical hackers. 

What is CEH Certification? 

The certified ethical hacker exam, commonly known as CEH exam, helps certify individuals in the network security discipline from a vendor-neutral perspective. It’s a professional certification offered by the EC-Council.

The course exposes learners to standard hacking practices. Moreover, it showcases a graduate’s knowledge of information gathering, carrying out attack exploits as well as social engineering techniques. 

ethical hacking certification

For an ethical hacker, the CEH certification can help you advance your career. There are a variety of top-tier positions that require CEH certification. Examples would be:

  • Computer Forensics Analyst
  • Cyber Security Analyst
  • Homeland Security Specialist
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Intrusion Detection Analyst
  • Security Engineer
  • Vulnerability Tester

What is the Salary Range for CEH Certification Jobs?

The certified ethical hacker salary varies based on position, experience, organization, and location. Over the years, there have been different surveys carried out to determine the ethical hacker salary. For our research, we used data provided by Payscale and Indeed. The two are great resources for investigating salary ranges for certified ethical hackers. 

To help us unpack the data, we will look at the salary ranges based on experience and job title. 

Based on Experience

  • Entry-level – $50,000 – $100,000 – 0 to 5 years
  • Junior-level – $100,000 – $120,000 – 5 to 10 years
  • Senior-level – $120,000 and above – 10 years+

If you’ve passed your CEH exam, you can add up to nine percent to the above salaries. If you are a certified penetration tester, you can add up to ten percent. 

Based on Job Title

Most similar roles have different titles depending on the hiring organization. The case isn’t different for CEH job titles. Specialization is important if you want to get an edge over your competitors. You can choose to specialize in areas such as networking, forensics, applications security, etc. With a CEH certification, you can still earn a high income without necessarily taking on an ethical hacking job.

Below are some CEH job titles and their salary ranges: 

  • Cyber Security Analyst – $48,083 – $118,990 including bonuses (median of $74,716)
  • Forensics Computer Analyst – $42,685 – $118,615 including bonuses (median of $69,460)
  • Information Security Analyst – $48,521 – $107,004including bonuses (median of $70,817) 
  • Information Security Manager – $73,249 – $153,163 including bonuses (median of $108,662) 
  • Network Security Analyst – $41,361 – $106,829 including bonuses (median of $65,832) 
  • Penetration Tester – $50,845 – $127,713 including bonuses (median of $81,097)
  • Security Engineer – $56,016 – $132,537 including bonuses (median of $88,170) 

Additional Skills That Certified Ethical Hackers Should Have

Besides a CEH qualification, it’s important – as an ethical hacker to possess the following skills: 

  • Advanced knowledge of security protocols and common operating systems, networks and programming, cryptography and encryption techniques, exploits and countermeasures as well as telecommunications
  • Analytical skills to help review and dissect large and complex data
  • Computer language skills to understand software code and follow processing logic
  • Conceptual understanding of common threats and cybercrime
  • Communication and interpersonal skills to clearly convey information in a non-technical language
  • Logic and problem-solving skills to reverse engineer software and break it down into its different parts
  • Patience to keep making attempts to infiltrate a system 
  • Software skills to learn how to use new applications and tools quickly 
  • Psychological and social engineering insights to be able to “get into the mind of a black hat hacker” 

As an ethical hacker, you should be knowledgeable about different hacking techniques. In addition, it’s important to continuously learn and update your skills because the hacking world changes quickly. Furthermore, the more skills you have, the higher your chances of commanding a higher salary. 

If you want to learn more about hacking, you can read our guide on how to become a hacker and the best hacking books for ethical hackers

Top 10 Best Hacking Books for Ethical Hackers in 2020

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Hacking Books

If you’ve ever found yourself searching for the “best hacking books for ethical hackers,” then you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we take a look at the best hacking books that you can read in 2020.

Top 10 Ethical Hacking Books

The Hacker Playbook 2: Practical Guide to Penetration Testing

hacking books for ethical hackers

The Hacker Playbook 2 is the perfect book for anyone keen on learning about penetration testing. Peter Kim, the author of the book, offers readers a hacking game plan. Kim has worked in the security industry for several years and is also the CEO of Secure Planet, LLC. In his book, he offers readers a detailed guide to what he calls the “game” of hacking. Kim’s style of writing combines hands-on examples with helpful advice. He uses different football-style plays to describe some of the barriers people doing penetration testing face.

These barriers include various types of network attacks, bypassing antivirus software, maneuvering through security controls and privilege escalation.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 4.3

The Hardware Hacker: Adventures in Making and Breaking Hardware

The Hacker Hardware

The Hardware Hacker was published by Andrew “bunnie” Huang. Huang is one of the most revered hackers globally. Additionally, Huang also published Hacking the Xbox, a book that focuses on reverse engineering and hacking techniques. He is well-known for his contributions to the hardware and hacking fields and has also mentored some developers and hardware startups.

In this book, Huang looks back at his career and shares his experience in open hardware and manufacturing. He shares his experiences in the form of personal interviews and essays on the legitimacy of reverse engineering. This book is perfect for anyone who is curious about hardware hacking.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 4.3

RTFM: Red Team Field Manual

RTFM

Red Team Field Manual authored by Ben Clark is a must-have for those keen on reading hacking books. This book is a thorough reference guide with no fluff for any serious Red Team members who occasionally find themselves with little or no time to scan through a main page or Google stuff. RTFM also details the basic syntax for frequently used Windows and Linux command line tools. In addition, it also summarizes unique use cases for powerful tools like Windows PowerShell and Python.

If you are looking to learn more about new red team techniques, this is the perfect book for you.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 4.2

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation

Art of Exploitation

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation was authored by Jon Erickson and is viewed as one of the best hacking books for beginners. The book focuses on different areas that pose a challenge for many beginners in their early ethical hacking career. In addition, it covers various topics such as hacking techniques, network communication, programming, and machine architecture. Moreover, the book details how black hat hacking techniques operate.

Erickson introduces readers to C programming from the viewpoint of a hacker. Moreover, the book comes with a CD that gives readers an entire Linux programming and debugging environment without the need to change the operating system. The software can help any beginner debug code, overflow buffers, and develop their own exploits.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 4.1

Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker’s Handbook

gray hat hacking

Grey Hat Hacking is a book that gives readers proven strategies that have been tried and tested by security experts. This book was authored by Allen Harper, Branko Spasojevic, Chris Eagle, Daniel Regalado, Jonathan Ness, Ryan Linn, Shon Harris, and Stephen Sims. The techniques shared in this book can help readers secure their network and prevent hacking. Moreover, the authors explain in detail the different weapons, skills, and tactics used by hackers. Additionally, they provide case studies, field-tested remedies, and ready-to-deploy testing labs.

This book allows readers to understand how hackers gain access to secure networks, overtake them, and inject malicious code. Furthermore, the book elaborates on reverse engineering techniques, cyber law, and android exploits.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 4.1

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

World's Most Wanted Hacker

Ghost in the Wires was authored by Kevin Mitnick. He became famous between the years of 1979 and 1995 as a computer hacker. Mitnick hacked his first computer system at the age of 16 years. During that period, he was able to access networks and computers from some of the world’s biggest companies. This book tells the real story of Mitnick’s hacking journey on cellular networks, computer systems, and phone switches. Additionally, Mitnick does a great job of explaining how the mind of a hacker works.

Ghost in Wires tells a thrilling true story of suspense, intrigue and unbelievable escapes of a hacker who forced organizations to rethink how they protect their most sensitive information.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 4.0

Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking

Science of Human Hacking

Social Engineering by Christopher Hadnagy reveals why hackers opt to hack into systems instead of asking for access. Hadnagy explains the techniques that hackers use to gain access to sensitive spaces.

As humans, we make decisions that affect everything from our emotions to our security. Likewise, hackers have learned how to exploit the decision-making process and make you take an action that’s not in your best interest.

If you want to learn more about hacking, you can read our guide on how to become a hacker.

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