This is an age where all the young and budding talents are incessantly hunting for newer avenues. They hope that these avenues will alight them onto some new and interesting career path. Upcoming career choices always have a wide scope of employment opportunities, skill development, and upscaling your career graph.
So, what are trying to talk about all this while? It’s a relatively new career prospect that is widely being discussed these days. ‘Ethical Hacking’ – yes, this could be your preferred career choice for the career-building and job-seeking population of this generation.
The term ‘hacking’ gives you an impression of something ‘unethical’! 'Data theft', 'Cyber-crime' etc. etc. – these are the instances that hit your imagination immediately! Well, that's the irony – this hacking, that is to say, ethical hacking has become one of the most 'ethical' career choices today!
It is nothing unusual for people to be under such notions, given the surge in cybercrimes and online theft of confidential data! You’ll be happy to know that as an ethical hacker, you grow up to protect the cyber world from these threats and attacks. Isn’t that a challenging job? If it sounds so, read on to know how you can go about this career choice and be an ethical hacker yourself…
Basic knowhow of Ethical Hacking
When access to your official data is given to a professional to serve official purposes, it is known as ethical hacking. This profession is carried out within the ambit of a legal system and data of a particular organization or business ownership is accessed with official permission. For instance, a government institution, in the face of an emergency, needs to assess whether there is any potential threat to its network system. It needs to be ascertained about the security of its highly confidential data before executing some high-end tasks!
In the face of such situations, ethical hackers are hired. These people are, therefore, popularly referred to as ‘White Hat Hackers’.
Now, the question: how to pursue a career in Ethical Hacking?
Building your career as a professional Ethical Hacker
You need to start early –
The ethical hacking career opportunity is a relatively nascent one. It being so, there are no predefined eligibility criteria (either in India or abroad) for pursuing a professional course in ethical hacking. That's a virtue that you can still enjoy, although what the future holds is always uncertain. Hence, the earlier you make the choice, the better you are.
The skill that you require –
Sound knowledge of certain coding and scripting languages will suffice. As a tech enthusiast, computer engineer, or software professional, you would certainly be adept with programming languages like HTML, Java, C, C++, Python, and so on. These can be considered as the prerequisites for learning ethical hacking.
The things that you actually do: you are both a hacker and a defender
Security checking is one of the key skills that job providers would hunt in you. As a network defender, you need to have a thorough knowledge of how a network operates. This know-how is inclusive of:
- The type and nature of network traffic
- Security controls, protocols, topologies
- Firewall configuration, etc.
As an ethical hacking learner, you can always start from the basics. You proceed step by step beginning from the fundamentals of ethical hacking. The concepts that you absorb gradually are setting footprints, scanning the network, hacking the system, sniffing, session hijacking, hacking of web servers as well as web applications, and so on.
Above all, there's no amount of rigorous training courses, but yes, you need ample exposure to real-time scenarios (even if it be in the virtual environment). Practical tests are crucial to test your hacking skills in every aspect.
The work opportunities that you are now exposed to –
A lot of prestigious job roles are offered to ethical hackers. To name a few of them are –
- Data security analyst
- Network administrator
- IT security manager/consultant
- Web security manager/administrator
- Computer forensics officer/investigator
These are only a few among the innumerable opportunities that ethical hackers have in their job cart. Yet, unfortunately, India still has a comparatively lesser number of institutes offering this course with limited number of seats for such courses!
The question faced by most career enthusiasts is: why has this career option still not been able to take off in the Indian job market?
Surprisingly, it is only the social stigma and the ‘unethical’ feeling that’s associated with the task of hacking. Students (who, in most cases go by their parents' choices or at least approval from their parents before clicking on the final career choice) have not opted for this profession in large numbers in the past decade. However, the connotations seem to change in recent times and more and more young professionals are going in for ethical hacking.
Where would you pursue ethical hacking?
Given the situation discussed so far, now, there are a handful of colleges and institutes across the country where you can pursue this course. Most of the institutes have recently included this 'legal' hacking as a part of their academics. It is usually a part of courses like computer and network security.
At the international level, the most recognized certifications are awarded by the EC Council. Some of the certification courses provided by them are –
- Certified Ethical Hacker
- Certified Network Defender program
- Certified Hacking Forensic Investigator
- Security Analyst program
- Network Defence Architect course
- Encryption Analyst course
- Program for Disaster Recovery Professional
That's not the whole list to be precise. We could name only a handful of courses from the numerous academic programs, degree as well as non-degree courses both at the graduate and Master's level!
All about pursuing ethical hacking courses here…
If you want the latest updates on to what extent has India advanced in incorporating ethical hacking in its academics, there’s good news for you. Given the fast pace at which data and information systems across the country are being attacked, courses and specializations concerning ethical hacking are receiving a warm welcome.
If you are planning to pursue a course in this professional field, you may choose to specialize in –
- Malware analysis – It involves analyzing the security threat and developing countermeasures to overcome them.
- Network Security – Techniques to strengthen the network against any threat or vulnerability
- Cryptography – Cryptography involves developing a crack-proof system to safeguard all the important data and information.
- Secure Coding – Software programs can be developed in a manner such that they are no longer vulnerable to potential threats. This technique is termed as secure coding!
How well are you equipped after a course on Ethical Hacking?
Courses from international institutes like the EC-Council or other recognized Indian institutes that offer academic programs related to hacking equips candidates with the following credentials...
- The use of various foot-printing tools, the technique of foot-printing, etc.
- Handling different types of Trojans, using countermeasures as well as Trojan analysis
- Techniques of network scanning
- Working with computer viruses, their analysis and fixes too
- Working computer malware and malware analysis
- Attacks of different kinds of a web server and web application
- System hacking methods, and steganography
- Use of cryptanalysis tools, study cryptography attacks, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), etc.
- Cloud computing and use of security tools against threats and attacks
The list above is too small to encompass all that a professionally trained ethical hacker can accomplish in his job. Apart from safeguarding against threats to computer systems and laptops, they are well equipped to protect against attack vectors on mobile platforms and analyse android vulnerabilities as well!
This article so far must have been exhaustive in enticing you to make a firm decision. And you have, by now, certainly decided to drift your career towards ethical hacking. Wait, give yourself a thumbs-up only after you’ve carefully gone through the last few lines that this piece of writing has to impart to you!
After you have gained the technical knowledge, don't give up your quest for learning more. You necessarily need to stay updated with the technology upgradations and the use of emerging skills and methods. In a nutshell, to stand out, think out of the box, adapt newer ways and means to do your job that assures your client about the quality of your job.
Ethical hacking is more of a passion than a profession. Since this is the digital world, nothing is full proof. Technology is ever-changing and so are its security requirements. You cannot stop learning and adapting new techniques in this field because like technology, its security threats would be ever-changing too! This job, therefore, entails no amount of mechanical approach or monotony of work. It only needs sheer passion and dedication to attain the goal. However, if you are wondering whether you have key cognitive abilities like problem solving skills in you, you can take the online aptitude test for career selection to help gain clarity in your decision.