Businesses have become so bombarded with malicious cybersecurity events, so the need for ethical hacking, among other solutions, has become crucial. It goes to show that there is plenty of value in putting bad activities to good use.
Compromised data and systems can cost your business millions of dollars and loss of consumer trust. What’s worse is that a data breach can cost an average of 2.6% more, from $4.2 million in 2021 to over $4.35 million in 2022 for post-event remediation.
Are you familiar with ethical hacking? Let’s learn more about this essential area of cybersecurity and how adopting the practice can protect your business.
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is a business-ordained or launched activity that features an attempt to gain access to a person’s or business’s computer system, data, or applications.
This process involves replicating actions, thought patterns, and strategies of hackers. When done correctly, ethical hacking helps identify security vulnerabilities and threats your IT team can resolve before a malicious attacker can infiltrate a system to exploit it and steal or compromise data.
The entire point of an ethical hack event is to help everyone. Therefore, everyone must know about the exercise and be on board. Ensuring the IT leader or CIO and IT team know that ethical hacking is underway is the first vital step in the process.
What is an Ethical Hacker?
Ethical hackers are known as “white hats”, which are “good guy” security experts who learn the latest cybercrimes and play them out in a secure environment to perform helpful security assessments.
The work of an ethical hacker is proactive, enabling them to identify weaknesses long before bad cyber actors are able to do so and exploit them.
Here are a few additional ways ethical hackers are different from cybercriminals:
- Use their knowledge to improve the technology, technological experience, and security of businesses and employees.
- Provide a vital service by seeking and pinpointing vulnerabilities and issues that could lead to a security data breach.
- Report all identified vulnerabilities to the IT team and business leadership.
- Offer remediation advice.
- Retest, with business leadership’s authority, after remediation to ensure vulnerabilities have been resolved.
How do Ethical Hackers differ from cybercriminals?
The intention and motivation make the difference between ethical hackers and cybercriminals, or “black hats,” whose primary purpose is to gain authorized resources, such as a system or specific data.
The main motivation, which you might easily guess, is financial gain, reputation damage, or the business’s financial loss. In some cases, they do it for personal recognition. It probably makes no sense to legitimate business owners and IT pros. Still, malicious hackers often crash servers, deface websites, or hold data ransom for the fun of it, as revenge for some perceived wrongdoing or as a form of activism.
Are there special skills, certifications, or authorizations an ethical hacker must have?
The most important things an ethical hacker must possess are a broad range of skills and good intentions. These computer professionals often decide to specialize in this area, becoming subject matter experts (SMEs) within the ethical hacking area.
Here are some traits and skills an ethical hacker should have to serve your business’s needs:
- Expertise in coding and scripting languages
- A deep and thorough knowledge of networking
- Proficiency in operating systems
- A firm foundation in information security principles
Some certifications to consider include:
- CompTIA Security+
- SANS GIAC
- EC Council: Certified Ethical Hacking Certification
3 Ethical Hacking trends and information you should know about to boost your cybersecurity in 2023
If you are considering ethical hacking for your business, you might like to know about some of the latest ethical hacking trends to be aware of to get the most out of the practice and boost your cybersecurity.
We want to share three ethical hacking trends you should know about in 2023.
1. Businesses are coming to terms with Ethical Hacking limitations
While the practice is gaining popularity and usage, industry professionals know that there are some limitations to conducting ethical hacking activities.
- Companies must avoid some activities for fear of a system compromise or crash. One restricted method businesses avoid is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, which frequently leads to crashed servers, which defeats the purpose.
- The scope of some ethical hacking events is limited, which means an ethical hacker can’t go beyond a certain defined scope. Limiting certain areas detracts from the effectiveness of ethical hacking.
- Businesses might face resource constraints in both time and budget, meaning they might have a small window to conduct a hacking exercise that a malicious hacker has plenty of time to do.
2. There are several common Hacking techniques used in Ethical Hacking
With ethical hacking, you empower your leadership with the potential to test, scan, and secure data and systems. There are numerous techniques your ethical hacking expert can use to help you tighten up cyber operations by trying to beat black hat cybercriminals at their own game.
- Phishing is an age-old technique that hackers perform, sending messages representing themselves as a trusted person to the recipient.
- Sniffing is done via specific “sniffing tools,” which track and capture packets passing through a network.
- Social engineering is a tactic used to gain a person’s trust by tapping into and using confidential information. Different types of social engineering are human-based, computer-based, and mobile-based.
- Footprinting gathers as much information as possible about a business’s infrastructure or specific targeted system, helping hackers identify the best route to infiltration.
- SQL injection is an attack that starts with an SQL query, which is a statement to a database server wherein modification is required. This technique helps a white hat hacker to gain insights into the database construction to find ways to protect it.
- Enumeration is information gathering that allows a hacker to create a connection with the targeted person or business. Once making the connection, the hacker can identify various attack vectors that leave the system open to future exploitations.
It’s essential to look at your system and data through the eyes of a bad-acting hacker to see what they see when looking for vulnerabilities. These techniques should point out what you need to know.
3. Ethical Hacking is on the rise with plenty of help for businesses set on boosting cybersecurity
Ethical hacking, sometimes referred to as “penetration testing” or “red teaming”, is on the rise. Business and IT leaders are frustrated by the malicious activity leaving their companies vulnerable.
If you don’t have an ethical hacking expert on your team, you might wonder where to start. Many B2B software solutions businesses now focus on providing a huge array of cybersecurity services, including ethical hacking. Such businesses can put together a reliable, trustworthy, ethical hacking team to work with your applications security and risks to develop a solution.
A few steps these teams might make include:
- Performing a vulnerability and risk analysis
- Updating and expanding your Data Loss Prevention Policy (DLP)
- Implementing an Ethical Phishing policy to raise awareness for end-users
- Adding a cloud access security broker (CASB) solution to enhance a shadow IT team
Do you need to perform Ethical Hacking exercises for improved cybersecurity?
Hopefully, you have warmed up to the idea of ethical hacking to protect your system and data. Our Baufest team is here to conduct ethical hacking that finds vulnerabilities and helps with remediation for optimal cybersecurity.
Contact us to learn more about our ethical hacking practices and other cybersecurity solutions or to book a discovery meeting.