Hacking refers to the practice of gaining access to systems or computers through unauthorized means. While our everyday life is increasingly moving online as are all activities, it is important that our privacy is maintained, our bank accounts remain secure, and our data not be used for other purposes. Cyber-crimes which are crimes perpetuated online pose a massive threat to our security in the virtual world and are on the rise every day. These activities are done by malicious hackers who use the information for their own personal gain or for organizations with criminal intentions. It is to counter this threat that ethical hacking is promoted now.
Ethical hacking refers to the practice of breaking through or bypassing system security with non-criminal intent. It is a pre-emptive measure to identify the flaws in a system as well as expose the probable cracks through which data can be compromised. The breach in the system will allow the organization to understand their current security status and do what is needed to better it. Ethical hackers are also known as White Hat hackers as opposed to Black Hat hackers who use illegal means to gain access to a system and do harm. There is a third group who are called the Grey Hat hackers. They are hackers who break into systems without authorization but do so with no mal-intention. Many do it for the fun of it and also report their breaches to whoever concerned. However, the lack of official authorization makes even this act a crime. Data theft, identity stealing, and large-scale money heists are all common activities that a black hat hacker would engage in. In the current landscape of commerce and technology, it is undebated that those who have access to and control of more information get the upper-hand. Information and data are the currency used most widely now. It is to ensure that these transactions and safekeepings are as secure as possible, and that the organizations who handle our data are able to safeguard them that we have need of ethical hacking.
An ethical hacker employs his skills to find the glitches in the armor and alerts his employers about his findings. With technological innovations reaching new heights every day, it is necessary that security systems are constantly upgraded and under scrutiny. Companies hire ethical hackers to find vulnerable points in their security systems and software that could be points through which an unethical hacker could enter the system. Ethical Hacking is also known as pen-testing or penetration testing. This is because they perform what is called a ‘pen test’ to hack into the system. Ethical hackers usually use the same methods that unethical hackers will use to enter a system. The only difference is that they are doing it with legal authority. They are required to keep their findings and understanding of the security system of an organization confidential since any slippage of information from them can cause harm as well. They are to remove or erase any traces of the hack once they have finished checking the system in order to stop unethical hackers from exploiting the same vulnerabilities. Ethical hacking can be learnt online from professionals or as part of courses. It is becoming a much sought-after profession and an increasingly pertinent one in the current global scenario.