Hacking refers to the activity of accessing data without authorization, which typically involves breaching security. Once hackers have access to the system, they can steal sensitive information, damage the website, crash backend servers, and cause financial losses. It is a serious cybercrime when done without adequate permission and can lead to extreme consequences.
While hacking is usually illegal, there is an emerging alternative of Ethical Hacking, which refers to hacking activities performed under the authorization of the network owner. Top tech companies usually practice ethical hacking as a precautionary measure to test the penetrability of their systems. Such activities are authorized by the owners and the ethical hackers also follow certain mandatory guidelines.
The cybersecurity and information security market has witnessed rapid growth worldwide, due to the increase in the rate of cybercrimes. As per the survey of Gartner and Accenture, the Information Security market is expected to reach $170.4 billion by 2022 [Source: analyticsinsight.net]. This is leading to increased craze among students for online learning, with the emergence of multiple ethical hacking course in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, etc.
These students have enough opportunities as there is a rising demand for ethical hackers. They are now being recruited by government organizations, financial institutions, and renowned companies, to keep their information safe. Based on the 2019/2020 Official Annual Cybersecurity job reports, the demand for information security personnel will create around 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2021. Also, the top companies like Google, Wipro, Dell, Infosys, Reliance, and IBM will offer the highest-paid ethical hacking jobs in India.
Ethical Hacking is currently in demand, therefore those who are looking to hire ethical hackers should know its pros and cons. In this article, we bring to you the highlights of this profession, and what all advantages and disadvantages it holds.
What is Ethical Hacking?
● Ethical hacking is a practice that involves an authorized attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer system, data, or application.
● It is done by ethical hackers, also known as white hats ethical hackers.
● Ethical hackers duplicate the strategies and actions of malicious attackers to find vulnerabilities in the security system so that they can be resolved before they can be attacked and exploited by any malicious attacker.
● It is like using the same weapon to protect the system that a malicious hacker would use to enter into the company’s database.
Is Ethical Hacking Different from Malicious Hacking?
Ethical Hacking is different from malicious hacking because of the intention behind it.
● Ethical Hacking is done to find the vulnerabilities to protect the system before it can be attacked by anyone else, whereas in malicious hacking, vulnerabilities are found for financial gains or personal recognition.
● The methods used and the vulnerabilities identified are reported in ethical hacking, but in malicious hacking, no reporting is done.
● Ethical hacking is concerned with improving the organization’s security posture, whereas malicious hacking defects websites, crashes backend servers, damages the reputation of the organization, and causes financial losses.
Pros of Ethical Hacking in Cyber Security
Ethical Hacking has more pros than cons when it is viewed from the perspective of business security. Some of the key advantages of ethical hacking are explained below.
Helps to Identify Vulnerabilities
●Ethical hacking helps to figure out the vulnerabilities and loopholes in the security system of an organization.
● This, in turn, helps to discover the weak points before anyone else could figure out and enter the system.
● Some of the vulnerabilities that are identified in the process are injection attacks, broken authentication, security misconfiguration, sensitive data exposure, etc.
Helps to Improve the Security System
● The team of ethical hackers not only identifies vulnerabilities but also improves the layers of the system that protects the network.
● They also employ programs to enable the system to respond to potential attacks.
● So, if an unwanted attack happens on the system, then the system will be already impenetrable, and will be able to log the suspicious activity, mark it, and even create an alert.
● Hackers usually attack the system for confidential and critical information.
● The companies that keep records of sensitive information of clients try to protect the data at all costs.
● Data protection is crucial for companies and thus ethical hackers also focus on protecting data security.
● Terrorist organizations have been funding cybercriminals to breach security systems to compromise national security features, leading to a steady rise in cybercrime.
● Ethical hackers have proved themselves to be highly beneficial to eradicate cyber terrorism and to work for the security of the nation from different breaches.
● Ethical hacking has also been a boon to banking and financial institutions.
Disadvantages of Ethical Hacking
Nothing is foolproof and so is the case for ethical hacking too. There are also certain disadvantages of using ethical hacking to protect the system security and some of them have been explained below.
Risk of Information Leak
● When companies hire ethical hackers, they have to provide them with a varying level of access to the company’s data.
● In some cases, ethical hackers also require full access to the system in order to find all the weak points.
● There are always chances that this data may get leaked or stolen, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Risk of Malware Attack
● While working with ethical hackers, there is a possibility of being exposed to damaging malware.
● Ethical hackers may use malware in one of their many tests to simulate an attack. This same malware, if it gets out of hand, can damage the system and wreak havoc.
● Ethical hackers are really expensive as they charge a high amount from the network owners. This cost increases with their experience.
● However, for those who are planning to pursue a course in this sector, this is only an advantage as they will be on the receiving end of the transaction.
Ethical hacking does have certain disadvantages and can lead to certain losses like information leaks and malware attacks. Still, the damage done by a malicious attack can be much more as compared to the damage caused by mistake during ethical hacking. Also, there are certain limitations in ethical hacking and the hackers have to stick to the guidelines set by the hacking community.
So, the losses caused by ethical hacking can be avoided by dealing with only reliable and certified ethical hackers. Also choosing companies that specialize in ethical hacking is also a better option as they adhere to the standards and compliance requirements that guarantee reliability.