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The ultimate goal of Ethical Hacking is to assess the security of networks and IT infrastructures and identify vulnerabilities. Ethical Hacking involves finding and exploiting vulnerabilities to determine if unauthorized access or malicious attacks are possible.
Ethical Hacking is more than identifying risks. It also shows and proves the actual exploit. You can test every attack vector, whether physical, virtual, or digital, using various techniques, procedures, and tactics. The ultimate goal of an ethical hacker is not only detection but to find out how far they can penetrate your environment. This approach allows enterprises to identify potential entry points for hackers that could expose financial assets, financial systems, and critical organizational systems.
In this article, we will cover the following topics
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacker is a term used to describe an information security professional who studies hacking and then professionally executes it. The ethical hacker meets the client’s requirements by identifying potential threats and risks to their networks or systems and then making suggestions for improvement.
Ethical Hacking is more than just repairing a system or network. It is about following a methodology that will help you stay on track and achieve your ethical hacking goals. Ethical hackers use techniques to bypass security and detect vulnerabilities that malicious attackers could easily exploit.
Goals of Ethical Hacking.
Gaining Access – Here is where the ethical hacker executes the hack. The ethical hacker uses the information gathered and analyzed in the reconnaissance and scanning phases to launch an attack on the network or system he is trying to penetrate. He exploits every vulnerability and takes control of the hacker’s system. The hacker can now steal all data, corrupt systems, add viruses and other malicious entities to it, and manipulate it for their benefit.
Escalating Privileges – This is where an ethical hacker exploits privilege escalation vulnerabilities and makes attempts to gain more access and permissions to applications or systems than the administrators intended. These flaws are useful for attackers as they allow for full exploit chains. The ethical hacker tries to escalate as high as possible and tries to document all security vulnerabilities along the way.
Executing Applications – Once, inside the system, an ethical hacker will be able to escalate privileges to install and execute apps. It’s essential not to set off alarms at this stage. They may set up a rootkit for later access. To gather data, they might install a keystroke log. They could install ransomware to get cash or install a botnet. A botnet can be rented to the darknet, and your system could become part of a criminal organization. Once a system is compromised, administrators can no longer control it. Although they may believe they are in control, ultimately, the company could suffer loss or system degradation and be implicated in criminal acts without their knowledge.
Covering Tracks – This is the last step in the whole ethical hacking process. An ethical hacker can hack into any system or network if this phase is successful. The hacker has done as much damage to the system as possible and left no trace. To avoid detection when they enter or leave the network or server, they must cover their tracks. Security systems should not be able to identify the attacker. A successful cyberattack is when the security system never realizes that an attack took place.
These are just a few of the many measures an ethical hacker uses to conceal and eliminate their presence.
- All logs are deleted.
- Logs are corrupted.
- Logs or registry values are modified
- Delete all folders created by the ethical hacker
- All applications are uninstalled
- All evidence of any activity by an ethical hacker within the system or networks is removed.
Ethical Hacking Methodology
The process, tools, and techniques of ethical Hacking are described in the ethical hacking methodology. Hackers follow a specific methodology to hack a system. The attackers first gather information through the scanning, vulnerability analysis, footprinting, and scanning phases. This information is then used to exploit the target system.
Malicious attacks against your network or system can now be launched from anywhere. Hackers are now more sophisticated and can launch attacks from anywhere on the Internet. What distinguishes a malicious hacker and an ethical hacker is their ethical hacking methodology.
The process followed by Ethical Hacking methodology and a malicious attacker is the same. The difference lies in the hacking strategies and goals that are implemented. An ethical hacker’s goal is to evaluate all information systems for vulnerabilities and risks and then successfully address them. An ethical hacker’s goal is to assist the organization and not launch an attack on other users or systems.
Importance of Ethical Hacking.
As technology improves, organizations integrate more IT systems into business to help and facilitate their processes and functions. It becomes more critical for them to test the security and safety of these IT systems. Cyber security breaches survey of 2020 found that 68% of medium-sized businesses in the United Kingdom experienced at least one attack or cyber security breach in the last 12 months.
Many small businesses don’t consider themselves targets, and many fail to do enough to protect their businesses. Even those who are aware of the risks often lack the resources to defend themselves. However, this does not mean that large companies are unaffected. A survey revealed that 75% of large companies have also been affected.
Organizations can use Ethical Hacking or penetration testing to find and fix security flaws and vulnerabilities in their networks, computers, and databases. Black hat hackers and malicious hackers can access an organization’s databases and IT systems with ill intention and for personal gain. Ethical hackers or white hat hackers are hired and granted permission to hack into the network and systems with the same tools and knowledge as a criminal hacker. Their goal is to find vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could compromise the security of these systems and networks. They work legally. They can then suggest corrective and preventative countermeasures to the organization to prevent cyber attacks.
Ethical hackers use many methods to source vulnerabilities. They use port scanning tools like Wireshark, Nessus, and Nmap to scan companies’ systems, analyze open ports, find vulnerabilities, and then take the necessary steps to fix them. They review patch installation procedures to ensure that no new vulnerabilities are introduced to exploit software updates. They can also sniff and analyze network traffic using the right tools. Ethical hackers also use social engineering to manipulate end-users and gain information about an organization’s computing environment.
Ethical hackers are similar to black-hat hackers. They monitor activity on social media and GitHub and engage employees in phishing attempts through email. Or roam through buildings with a clipboard to exploit security vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers can make physical threats to employees or attempt to extort information. However, they are restricted in their social engineering methods to ensure that their hacking is ethical and legal.
Ethical Hacking combines an offensive and defensive strategy. Organizations can identify vulnerabilities before malicious hackers to help them be proactive rather than reactive when dealing with advanced cyber threats. Enterprises must identify all weaknesses in their IT environment, including physical, cloud, and virtual environments. Malicious hackers could exploit these areas.
Ethical hackers know the ways of the bad guys. To defeat a hacker, you must think and act like one. They can replicate the actions and intent of malicious hackers by using a variety of sophisticated cyber-attacks. Enterprises can benefit from having someone with the same mindset and actions as a malicious hacker, but with a different goal: to protect the organization’s data and finances.
In today’s cyberattacks, enterprises must continuously improve their security. Organizations can protect themselves and their assets from advanced cyber threats by Ethical Hacking.
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