Ethical hacking is the practice of hackers who look or vulnerabilities in a computing system or system reliant on computing. These hackers are usually hired by companies, organizations, or government to beat the criminal hackers to the punch.
When vulnerabilities are found, the company could then plug up the holes to prevent a a genuine attack. There are several levels of ethical hacking that need be done, not just looking at one big picture. From the computing used by receptionists, to customer databases, to administrative operations and more. These ethical hackers have to cover a wide array of systems as sometimes the smallest system can compromise the entire infrastructure of a computing system.
Government is at a constant battlefield with hackers. Millions of them attack US agencies daily. Let just one slip through and chaos can ensue. Corporations face the same dilemma but in some cases have better resources than even government. The problems usually occur when hackers gains some tidbit of information that is offline. Meaning information or data that isn’t in the computing system but is used to activate or utilize it. A name, a password, personal or professional information that is carelessly displayed or retrieved via deception.
Ethical hackers will use all these tactics and tools to look for these vulnerabilities include that of sometimes just visiting an agency or business and looking for those compromising elements like people who write their passwords on stickies near their desks or name security access codes after their pets or kids and leave their pictures in broad display for all to see.
Believe it or not, ethical hacking has been around for a long time, just over 20 years. It’s a preventative practice but not 100% foolproof. In addition, every time a new bit of technology emerges, more security defenses are required. These security personnel have to keep on their toes with every twist and turn of technology. We’ve seen that in the rapidly expanding mobile market. That alone has created chaos regarding security on the highest levels as government bigshots have constantly compromised sensitive computing systems just from using playful apps and social media.
The teamwork involved is monumental. Ethical hacking teams have to work on levels where they employ knowledge of several sciences at a time as well as having to know the behavioral and psychological modus operandi of the enemy. Criminals try to compromise things by using every trick in the book from hacking the ethical hackers to even bribery or extortion. Extortion is a major factor in accessing systems as hackers who can’t get into an agency or business, hack the employees or staff for secrets and then threaten them with exposure should they not acquiesce to their demands. The Ethical hackers have to take this into account each step of the way and it usually shows up when standard sweeps for compromised systems don’t show a breach that fits the logic. When that happens, it’s usually human error on some level.
With all that compounded responsibility, today’s ethical hacker has their hands full. As more powerful computing technology emerges, it’s going to be interesting to see the new battlefield to come.