Ethical hacking, good or bad?

Hacking seen from the point of view of computer security, allies or dangerous practices… Learn more about ethical hacking.

When we hear the term hacking we probably associate it with theft or a malicious action. However, there are benign applications for these actions, since there are people who use these skills for good; in addition, usually ethical hacking applies to organizations, since they handle a set of data that tends to have a high value, either monetary or informational.

Most organizations have a security policy that employees must follow to protect the security of the company’s data, however, malicious hackers are constantly looking for ways to illegally penetrate the company’s platforms and thus cause all kinds of havoc. Therefore, in these cases, the actions of ethical hackers come to the fore. We will now take a look at these practices in organizations.

Ethical hacking

What is an ethical hacker?

It consists of an inspection carried out by information security professionals; commonly known as “pentesters”. These inspections or audits are “ethical hacking” or “penetration testing”. Likewise, the job of ethical hackers is to try to penetrate an organization’s systems to look for vulnerabilities and, based on that, combat or correct them to prevent malicious hackers from entering.

These penetration tests were carried out for the first time due to the appearance of attacks on organizations that represented significant monetary and reputational losses. Also, over time, ethical hacking has become more popular due to the development and appearance of new malicious intrusion techniques that threaten information security. Therefore, it is these good hacking practices that have become a safe option for organizations. However, ethical hacking has been the subject of controversy; as there are different positions both for and against these practices. This is due to the same stigma that weighs on hackers and piracy itself.

Differences between ethical hacking and a malicious hacking

Based on this; we can establish a difference between ethical and malicious hackers. As we have seen, not all hackers are criminals; some simply use their skills to help strengthen security in organizations. In addition, over time, other terms have emerged to differentiate these hackers. Thus, those who identify themselves as criminals or “crackers”, direct their actions to malicious or lucrative purposes. On the other hand, those professionals who bring an asset and help to strengthen security in organizations are the “ethical hackers”.

Also, other classifications for these hackers are “black and white hat”. Black hats fall into the same category as the malicious hackers or crackers described above. They tend to have great power and are difficult to detect and catch; in addition, their skills can penetrate bank accounts, government platforms; among others. On the other hand, white hat hackers are the allies of organizations and generally only focus on scanning vulnerabilities to report and correct them later.

What are the roles of ethical hackers?

The main function that white hat hackers perform is penetration testing. The purpose of this test is to analyze the vulnerabilities presented by the company’s systems, and from there to create reports with a correction strategy. The aim of this is to increase information security. Also, during these penetration tests, certain areas are evaluated and then defined:

Physical security:

Refers to the security tests that are carried out in a physical environment. It integrates the tangible elements that make up the security that require a physical effort, in these are:

  1. Monitoring review
  2. Perimeter review
  3. Access control review
  4. Review of the environment and location

    1. Communications security: this includes telecommunications and data networks. Telecommunications include all networks in their category, whether digital or analog, while data networks are all systems, both electronic and networks where the interaction requires an established wiring system.
    1. Wireless security: includes all virtual communications, signals and detachments that are produced electromagnetically. The tasks of the ethical hacker in this area are:

Verification of wireless mobile devices

  • Verification of wireless network
  • RFID verification
  • Verification of wireless surveillance devices
  • Verification of wireless input devices

In this area, professionals perform penetration tests on web applications; normally this professional does not know the inner workings of the application at the time of the test, thus finding vulnerabilities. Also, the areas of verification that the ethical hacker executes are:

  1. Hosting controls
  2. Network survey
  3. Search for competitive information
  4. Testing of online applications
  5. Privacy Review
  6. Testing of contingency measures
  7. Password decryption
  8. Access Control

Evaluation of security policies

Security of information storage: this includes the resources used for the proper storage of information.

Process security: in this area the ethical hacker applies social engineering to evaluate employee access. Usually employees participate involuntarily, i.e. without knowing that they are participating in a test, in this case the professional uses it to evaluate the penetration through the means of communication used, whether telephone, email, chat, among others.

Advantages and disadvantages of implementing ethical hacking

Advantages:The main advantage of penetration testing through the use of ethical hackers is that you can know the different vulnerabilities that your organization presents and from this you can implement a solution to better protect the information.

Ethical hacking is a controlled practice, i.e. it is carried out with the company’s consent, so the hacker’s tasks can be verified and monitored to ensure the veracity of their results. The hackers used for these tasks are professionals in the IT or computer area and can be found in the information technology and communication department.

Disadvantages: The solutions to the vulnerabilities found by the ethical hacker involve a series of processes and introduction of departments that can make the process more complex within the organization. Normally, the implementation of White Hackers is done as a defense and not as a prevention, meaning that organizations tend to seek this resource after an attack or threat has been found.

Therefore, it is recommended that you implement this technique as a preventive measure and do so periodically. In addition, this practice tends to be subject to much controversy or stigmatization by organizations, so many do not take into account the true usefulness of this practice. Therefore, it is important to understand that it is a safe and ethical practice that will help the safety of your organization.

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