What Is Ethical Hacking And Is It Effective?
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What Is Ethical Hacking And Is It Effective?

H

acking is bad, right? When you hear stories of hackers on the news or see them represented in movies, the impression you get will usually be a negative one. We usually think of them as super-smart criminals who want to gain access to our computers for nefarious means, such as robbing us of our savings and stealing sensitive data.

But here's the thing, while some forms of hacking can be linked to cybercrime, not every hacker is a criminal. There are security professionals out there who engage in ethical hacking, using practices such as penetration testing to evaluate the security of company computer systems. For this reason, it is important to differentiate between the different types of hackers and to learn the reasons why ethical hacking is a good thing.

What Is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is the practice of bypassing security systems to help business owners identify any vulnerabilities in their network. Unlike the hacking attempts made by criminals to steal from and disrupt businesses, ethical hacking is legal.  

By looking into the vulnerabilities of a computer system, a cybersecurity professional is able to advise the business owner of the steps needed to strengthen their system's defences. They will then do what is necessary to minimise the risk of data breaches and other types of illegal hacking attempts.

Key vulnerabilities in a computer system can include:

  • Injection attacks (Malicious code that has been injected into the network)
  • Areas where sensitive data is exposed
  • Breaches in authentication protocols
  • Flaws in security settings
  • Unencrypted data in the network
  • Hidden backdoor programs

Ethical hackers will use many of the same methods as their unethical counterparts when testing security measures, but rather than taking advantage of the business for personal gain, they will actively help to make changes.

Ethical Hacking Vs Criminal Hacking

Ethical hacking is known as 'white hat' hacking, which is a term used to differentiate the work cybersecurity professionals do as opposed to their criminal counterparts. Illegal hacking is known as 'black hat' hacking, which is something that every business owner has reason to worry about.  

White hat hackers look for exploits in computer systems and they ask for permission from the business owner before going to work. They hack into computer systems for reasons that don't pertain to personal gain as their goal is to help business owners spot the security vulnerabilities that put them at risk of a data breach.

Black hat hackers are the ones that are often reported on by the media, as they target small and large businesses alike to steal money and data for criminal gain. This isn't to say that they are always financially driven, as their goal can sometimes be to cause havoc, such as by shutting down a business' computer system. According to Patchstack, between 3,000 and 4,000 cyberattacks happen every day, be that to steal from or to disable computer systems.  

White hat and black hat hacking are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but there is also 'grey hat' hacking to consider as well. This falls between the two, as a grey hat hacker will look for vulnerabilities in a business’ computer system without asking permission, but they won't do it for personal or third party gain. They sometimes do it for fun but they will often alert business owners to any security problems that they find. Since they are gaining unauthorised access, grey hat hacking is considered illegal, even though they aren't exploiting the business with criminal intent.  

As a business owner, you should be alert to all types of hacking, as it is in your best interest to keep your sensitive data safe. You need to take steps to deter both black and grey hat hackers, and you can do this by employing the services of a white hat hacker, aka an ethical hacker who will help you step up cybersecurity measures in your business.  

Is Ethical Hacking Effective?

The short answer is yes and for evidence of this, check out this article by Packt, which illustrates ten instances where ethical hackers saved the day for companies with security vulnerabilities. As a business owner, you won't always have the time or the skillset to spot such security flaws yourself, which is why a third-party professional can help to protect your business.  

Ethical hackers use the same methods that criminal hackers use so they fully understand the ways in which your security system can be compromised. With regular penetration testing, loopholes and imperfections can be found, and this will give you the opportunity to make the changes that can strengthen your business’ defences.  

So, while you might be under the assumption that all hacking is bad, you need to know that you can turn the tables on your potential attackers through the ethical hacking services of a cybersecurity professional. By letting them into your system, you will be able to secure your system before somebody with malicious intent strikes.  

An ethical hacker will:

  • Assess the effectiveness of your computer systems
  • Carry out a risk management assessment to seek out the weaknesses that could put your business in danger
  • Work with your employees, including your security team, to help you put defence measures in place
  • Help you prioritise your security spending
  • Take steps to ensure you are compliant with all GDPR regulations

As you can see, ethical hacking is about much more than highlighting the security flaws within your business. When you hire a cybersecurity agency with skills in ethical hacking, you will be able to make better security and financial decisions to support the greater needs of your business. You will also earn the trust of your customers who will be as keen as you are to know that the information they give to you is safe from a data leakage.

Conclusion

At Gemraj Technologies Ltd, we will analyse the risks and threats that could affect your business and will help put measures to place to protect you from criminal hackers. For more advice on cybersecurity and the measures that can be taken to protect your business, please get in touch with us today!  

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