Ethical hacking — also known as penetration testing or white-hat hacking — involves the same tools, tricks, and techniques that hackers use, but with one major difference: Ethical hacking is legal.
Ethical hacking is performed with the target’s permission. The intent of ethical hacking is to discover vulnerabilities from a hacker’s viewpoint so systems can be better secured.
It’s part of an overall information risk management program that allows for ongoing security improvements. Ethical hacking can also ensure that vendors’ claims about the security of their products are legitimate.
Scope of Ethical Hacking
Ethical hacking is widely used as penetration testing to identify the vulnerabilities, risk, and highlight the loops to take remedial actions against serious attacks like,
- Denial-of-services Attacks (DoS attack)
- Manipulation of data
- Identity Theft
- Credit Card theft
The word ethical in this context can be defined as working with high professional morals and principles. Whether you’re performing ethical hacking tests against your own systems or for someone who has hired you, everything you do as an ethical hacker must be aboveboard and must support the company’s goals.
No hidden agendas are allowed! Trustworthiness is the ultimate tenet. The misuse of information is absolutely forbidden. That’s what the bad guys do.
Uses of ethical hacking
There are a number of ways ethical hackers can help organizations, including:
Finding vulnerabilities – Ethical hackers help companies determine which of their IT security measures are effective, which need to be updated and which contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited. When ethical hackers finish evaluating organizations’ systems, they report back to company leaders about those vulnerable areas, for instance, a lack of sufficient password encryption, insecure applications or exposed systems running unpatched software. Organizations can use the data from these tests to make informed decisions about where and how to improve their security posture to prevent cyberattacks.
Demonstrating methods used by cybercriminals – These demonstrations show executives the hacking techniques that malicious actors use to attack their systems and wreak havoc with their businesses. Companies that have in-depth knowledge of the methods the attackers use to break into their systems are better able to prevent them from doing so.
Helping prepare for a cyberattack – Cyberattacks can cripple or destroy a business, especially a small business. However, most companies are completely unprepared for cyberattacks. Ethical hackers understand how threat actors operate and they know how these bad actors will use new information and techniques to attack systems. Security professionals who work with ethical hackers are better able to prepare for future attacks because they can better react to the constantly changing nature of online threats.
Ethical hacking techniques
Ethical hackers generally use the same hacking skills that malicious actors use to attack enterprises. Some of these hacking techniques include:
Scanning ports to find vulnerabilities Ethical hackers use port scanning tools, such as Nmap, Nessus or Wireshark, to scan a company’s systems, identify open ports, study the vulnerabilities of each port and take remedial action.
Scrutinizing patch installation processes to be sure that they don’t introduce new vulnerabilities in the updated software that can be exploited.
Performing network traffic analysis and sniffing by using appropriate tools.
Attempting to evade intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, honeypots and firewalls.