15 Apr 2022 (10 months ago)
A white hat hacker is an ethical information security developer or engineer who uses their skills on behalf of organizations to test security configurations.
Ethical hacking began in the late 1960s, as corporations and government agencies began testing computers for emerging telecommunications technologies and security vulnerabilities. However, an unfortunate side effect of ethical hacking is black hat hackers, who illegally seek information for personal gain.
White hats essentially have an organization’s consent to look for exploits and vulnerabilities within an IT infrastructure to ensure that black hats can be kept at bay.
What is the difference between a white hat hacker and a black hat hacker?
While a white hat hacker enforces security and complies with regulations, a black hat hacker is essentially a cyber criminal. Black hats operate with malicious intent to break laws, steal information and money, blackmail people, or take down corporations. Phishing schemes, malware, viruses, and other cyberattacks are attempts to gain access to your system, and the results can be devastating. Successful attacks can accomplish anything from slowing down your computer to shutting down company operations, like when hackers shut down the Colonial Pipeline in 2021.
do you know There is a third type of hacker known as a “grey hat hacker,” who is a security expert who looks for vulnerabilities, but usually without permission. They often break the law.
Background and Education Requirements
White hat hacking involves a lot of problem solving and communication skills. A white hat hacker also needs a balance of intelligence and common sense, strong technical and organizational skills, impeccable judgment and the ability to remain calm under pressure.
At the same time, a white hat hacker needs to think like a black hat hacker with all their nefarious goals and deviant behavior. Some of the top-rated white hat hackers are former black hat hackers who got caught and decided to put their skills to work in a positive (and legal) way, leaving behind a life of crime for various reasons.
There are no standard education criteria for a white hat hacker – each organization may impose its own requirements – but a bachelor’s or master’s degree in information security, computer science or mathematics provides a strong foundation.
For those not enrolled in college, a military background, especially intelligence, can help your resume get noticed by hiring managers. Military service is also a plus for employers who prefer to hire employees who already have a security clearance.
do you know U.S. The Air Force conducted one of the earliest ethical hacks on the Multix operating system in 1974 This security assessment revealed multiple vulnerabilities that could be easily exploited
Many white hat hacking and security-related IT certifications can help a candidate get their foot in the door, even without a large amount of experience.
A recommended starting point is to obtain the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification from the EC-Council. CEH is a vendor-neutral certification, and CEH-certified professionals are in high demand According to PayScale the median salary for an ethical hacker is just over $80,000 and the top range can be over $100,000. On the consulting side, EC-Council says CEH professionals can expect to pay $15,000 to $45,000 per contract or short-term assignment.
The intermediate-level CEH certification focuses on system hacking, enumeration, social engineering, SQL injection, Trojans, worms, viruses, and other types of attacks, including denial of service. Candidates must demonstrate thorough knowledge of cryptography, penetration testing, firewalls and honeypots.
EC-Council recommends a five-day CEH training class for candidates without prior work experience. To do well in the course, students should have Windows and Linux system administration skills, familiarity with TCP/IP, and working knowledge of virtualization platforms. However, self-study options are also available to help candidates clear the single required exam. EC-Council candidates must have at least two years of information security experience and pay a $100 application fee.
Becoming a certified white hat hacker involves staying on the legal side of hacking, never engaging in illegal or unethical hacking activities, and always protecting the intellectual property of others. As part of the certification process, candidates must agree to abide by the EC-Council Code of Conduct and never engage in unethical hacker or malicious activities.
Apart from CEH, the SANS GIAC syllabus is worth a look. Candidates who start with GIAC’s cyber defense certification, starting with GSEC, can better position themselves to climb through an active, well-respected and deep security curriculum. GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) and GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN) are both notable certifications for aspiring white hat hackers.
Another set of ethical hacking certifications comes from Mile2. The Mile2 Cybersecurity Certification Roadmap series includes the Foundational Certified Vulnerability Assessor (CVA), followed by the Certified Professional Ethical Hacker (CPEH), Certified Penetration Testing Engineer (CPTE) and Advanced-Level Certified Penetration Testing Consultant (CPTC). Qualifying US veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to obtain cybersecurity certification and training through Mile2.
Forensic related certification
Doing some work in computer forensics is always a good idea for someone working in information security. For those interested in the investigative side of security, continue with the EC-Council’s certification lineup and then tackle the Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification.
CHFI focuses on the forensic investigation process and the use of proper tools and techniques to obtain computer forensic evidence and data. As part of CHFI’s certification training, candidates also learn how to recover deleted files, crack passwords, investigate network traffic, and use various forensic tools to gather information.
Some other eligible forensic-related certifications are the GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA) and the High Tech Crime Network Certified Computer Forensic Technician and Certified Computer Crime Investigator certifications.
Physical aspects of penetration testing
Not all aspects of penetration testing are digital, nor do they always rely on digital means or methods to follow. Security experts commonly refer to the security features of a site or facility and the physical access controls involved in personally entering or using the facility or equipment, under the heading of physical security. Thus full penetration testing also involves attempts to compromise or circumvent physical security.
A trained penetration tester may attempt to tailgate through an access gate, ask someone to hold the door for them while bypassing badge readers or keypad entry control systems, or use other forms of social engineering to get around physical security controls and barriers. Because getting up close and personal with equipment is a necessary first step in attacking its security, physical security, and related security controls, policies and procedures are just as important as corresponding steps on the digital side of the security fence.
Most information security certifications—including CISSP, CISM, and Security+—provide some coverage of physical security in the general knowledge areas they ask candidates to learn and understand when preparing for the exam.
For those specifically interested in physical security, ASIS International’s Physical Security Professional (PSP) certification is perhaps the crème de la crème of physical security certifications. It’s worth checking out for those who want to understand the full range of penetration testing methods, approaches, and techniques, especially in the area of physical security. [RELATED: 18 Ways to Protect Your Devices from Hackers]
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