World-wide revenue loss due to malicious hackers annually reaches figures in the billions. To combat this growing threat, companies, institutes of higher learning, and government agencies are all working diligently to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity experts. These professionals will be proficient in identifying, isolating, and responding appropriately to threats as quickly as possible in order to effectively minimize damage.
In order to fully evaluate a system’s security, it is necessary to experience the full extent of the vulnerabilities. This is where trained ethical hackers come in to mimic the techniques of an intruder, but with the intent of resolving the security issue instead of exploiting it for dubious gain. Ethical hackers are above all trustworthy and have honed their knowledge and ability under ethical procedure. They typically work in a highly secured environment within an office setting, although their hours are often untraditional, as a criminal hacker’s hours would generally be. The ethical hacker monitors the networks at various times and levels of activity to assess threat levels that might exist at non-peak usage times.
With strong programming and networking knowledge, they perform system audits to collect multiple forms of data that is then used to present an overall picture of an entire company’s cyber-related security challenges. Because of the highly technical skill set they possess, and the extreme importance of the nature of their work, they are typically highly respected for their commitment to preventing cyber attacks.
Most ethical hackers have extensive on the job training and highly complex understanding of how network security is constructed. They need to be patient and meticulous in their processes and thorough in their recordkeeping. Ethical hackers remain in demand in all industries throughout the global marketplace.
Ethical hackers must complete a stringent set of background checks as part of the hiring process, as companies usually do not hire ex-hackers with an illegal past. Legal hackers are a self-policing group who share best practice methods to promote positive outcomes. In addition, various professional groups may also promote codes of conduct to set a standard of professional conduct. For instance, the Association of Information Technology Professionals puts forth a code of conduct that underscores the importance of ethical and legally binding treatment of all information that is viewed during ethical hacking situations.
Severe legal consequences exist for legal hackers that stray from ethical practices or otherwise ignore confidentiality agreements. Nonetheless, there are always legal risks when exposing vulnerabilities with often high stakes, so the field as a whole must continue to respond to legal considerations as it continues to evolve.
For professionals interested in cybersecurity, advanced coursework will involve some degree of ethical hacking. As certification and degree programs continue to respond to industry demand for skilled cybersecurity experts, well-rounded professionals having the technical and interpersonal skills to recognize and minimize the threat of cyber-attacks have many options for continuing their education and increasing their knowledgebase.
Top-tier and regionally accredited programs involve simulations that better prepare the next generation of cybersecurity experts to recognize early signs of a possible threat or attack across a variety of platforms. Training in ethical hacking involves addressing common issues, such as employee password and laptop theft, as well as other threats including outside malicious attacks from professional hacking organizations, internal security breaches due to employee fraud or in some cases ignorance, and hardware limitations that might lead to increased vulnerability. Some cybersecurity professionals work to address corporate culture issues such as employee training on specific security-related issues.
With growing international need for highly skilled professional cybersecurity specialists, coursework will continue to become more rigorous. One of the important aspects to combat malicious hacking is the corporate use of ethical hackers to uncover and fortify weak spots before illegal hackers find and exploit them.
Though effective, ethical hacking is not without its own challenges. Cybersecurity professionals today seeking pertinent training should carefully consider the scope of coursework and breadth of practical knowledge available in prospective training programs. With the increased demand and international opportunity, professionals seeking to advance in the field of cybersecurity have more options and areas of specialty available to them than ever before.