When you start talking about cyber security, the topic of hackers is both a hot and controversial subject. A hacker is someone who discovers a weakness in a computer system and exploits it. It’s currently a subject that is far broader than simply hijacking Facebook accounts and vandalizing websites, and there are many different people that wear the “hacker” tag. Some hackers do very good things. These hackers are usually called ‘ethical hackers’ to distinguish their intentions, and they are a critical part of the IT world. In short, they use their advanced knowledge of computer systems to break into networks, but instead of stealing data and information, they actually break into systems for the purpose of identifying flaws and weaknesses in the network so they can fix them. Typically they are contractors and work for large organizations that are seeking to make the Internet and a company’s network more secure for everyone.
If you’re just getting started on the subject, check out this course for a fantastic introduction to ethical hacking, which is often also referred to as white hat hacking. It’s great as it also covers the ways you need to protect your website and online presence, a key issue in today’s age of connectivity.
Getting started as an ethical hacker will require a little hard work, but many of the resources you can start to learn from can all be found online. First, though, you need to dedicate time to learn and practice. You won’t get far unless you’re willing to put in the effort required to learn how to program and teaching yourself the processes and skills that ethical hackers use every day to do their jobs. Having a love of technology and computers is also a must, as your passion will help you stay motivated and on track. On top of this, you need to put in a genuine effort to learn.
Start with learning basic hacking techniques. There are particular ways hackers break into systems, and as a penetration tester (the industry term for an ethical hacker) you need to understand how each of these are used to do your job effectively. What’s great about these is that as you’re learning, you walk through each method, so you can learn how and why each of them work. The best place to start is this course since it takes you step-by-step through all of the concepts you need to know – at a beginner’s level. What makes it an even better resource though, is the final chapters where it covers how you can protect your own networks from all of these techniques.
The second step is to learn how to program. This is where many people get stuck, especially if it’s your first time learning a programming language, because it can be really difficult. Luckily, once you know a language, it’s much easier to learn new languages, so push yourself and really get to know your first one. You need the programming language skills, because more often than not you will have to create programs to help you break into a network. You should also know the background behind how the system works, which you will better understand once you know the language. This is critical, because once you understand it, it’s much easier to break into. Unfortunately there are many different programming languages to learn, but your best bet is starting with C. It’s a robust language that can be applied to create a wide range of programs. This course is excellent to get you started and there are many different resources you can find on the Internet to take your programming skills past the beginner level once you’re ready.
Next, you need to get yourself a hacking computer, and start learning how to work with Linux. Windows just doesn’t give you the flexibility you need, and there are great packages like Kali (that work only with Linux) and give you an arsenal of tools that will help you on your journey to become an ethical hacker. Sometimes, it’s better to use programs that have already been created, especially as you’re learning. Ultimately, you’ll need to learn how to program and create your own, but having a base set like Kali gets you off to a running start. When you’re ready to start with more advanced problems, this course is excellent at helping you master specific tools, as well as guiding you through building your own hacking programs and manual solutions.
Now you’ve got your skills together, you need to prove everything you’ve learnt by getting yourself certified. There are many courses such as the CEH, OSCP and many other security certifications you can find in Google with a quick search that demonstrates you’ve mastered the knowledge required to become an effective ethical hacker.
There are many businesses and government organizations that are always looking for penetration testers to ensure their systems remain protected against the always advancing hacking techniques – that adapt every day. If viruses and DDoS attacks get your heart racing, perhaps this is the career for you. Being an ethical hacker allows you to secure and protect your system by hacking into it yourself and without the risk of ending up in jail! Not bad at all right?
Starting salaries for ethical hackers range from $50,000-100,000, depending on the firm you choose to work for and your level of computer skills. Most firms require experience and proven skills in this field, but it can be a difficult field to break into, even with the right degrees and certifications. The only way you can possibly get started is to practice, so set up your own network and start learning as soon as possible. Once you get started, this recent post covers some great ‘tricks’ that you can add to your arsenal.
Your road to ethical hacking begins today, so start your online learning now!