Before answering this question on ethical hacking, let\’s first talk about technology. Is technology a boon or bane? We have seen technology as a boon as well as a bane. When good, it has done wonders, but when used with an evil mind, it harms us in ways we cannot imagine. For example, many of us have been victims of cybercrime, and it\’s happening more and more despite awareness. But, on the other hand, we now have self-driving cars, smartwatches, robots, and whatnot to help us in many ways and make our lives easy.
Is technology a boon or bane is a debatable topic and depends on the people\’s experience. Those who use it daily and automate their tasks find it a boon, but those who have suffered from cybercrime, frauds, identity theft, phishing scams, and spams find it a bane.
With growing technology, we have more and more automation in every field in today\’s world. Due to covid, we have seen a new type of education and are forced to implement it. Whether a nursery child or a high school student, one is using remote education, which is possible because smartphones and smart applications allow many people to communicate over a platform.
We now have human-like robots, self-driving cars, virtual reality, geotargeting, advanced satellite communications, and the list is quite long. We had experienced improved efficiency levels at various platforms and fields since the early 90s when we had limited access and technology.
Do you now feel like it is so much amazing? But wait, what about the scams, online bullying and trolling phishing, and frauds related to identity and money theft?
These have become an online crime, but they existed even when we didn\’t have computers. Yes, money theft, child pornography, all these crimes were committed by people, which now have become cybercrime as well. When a computer is used for committing a crime, we call it cybercrime. Since many severe cases have happened in the past few years, the government has taken strict measures for it.
So, this is the harmful effect of having an excess of something. When something can be used for good, some evil minds can also find ways to use it to the worst possible. Similar is our technology; people have started using it to hurt and destroy others. It depends on us, how we want to use it to our maximum advantage without harming our race, our kind, or even our environment in any way.
One of the advancements that originated from the human mind is hacking. Hacking sounds intimidating, right? The instant thought that comes to our mind with this word is something bad or information leakage. It has become common these days but not because of good reasons. A lot of people have suffered due to hacking.
But do you know what hacking is? It is an attempt to exploit a resource such as a private network or a computer system for both good and bad reasons.
Hackers are the people who learn about hacking and do it on demand or misuse.
Some of the ways how hackers hack the information or a device are using:
Hijacking browser – It is done by using malware software.
Distributed Denial of Service Attacks by sending a large amount of data from multiple sources to overwhelm the destination device or network
Viruses attach them to a program to replicate and infect all the information stored, which is later on extracted at the source by the hacker or a program.
Trojan – Swiss Army knife of hacking. Depending on the hacker\’s intention, a trojan can be used to perform a variety of actions. These activities include communicating with the hacker, opening up the system for further attacks, and delivering payloads.
Ransomware, also known as ransom malware, is a kind of malware that demands payment (ransom) from the user to access their devices or files and folders. This virus locks the computer and does not allow even the computer used to access it.
There are many more ways of hacking to gain information, gain access, and destroy or corrupt files. Normally, people sometimes cannot realize or identify that they have been harmed or a hacker has stolen their data.
We need to gain appropriate knowledge about hacking and keep ourselves as safe as possible. We should also try to safeguard our files and folders with strong passwords and try not to use any external locking software or download any malicious software or code to our system. Do check before you insert or add a piece of external information to your device.
Types of Hackers:
Before getting deep into ethical hacking, we must know the different types of hackers. We can classify hackers based on their intent of hacking, which is as follows:
White Hat Hacker:
Also known as Ethical Hacker, intends to fix weaknesses in a system by gaining access. They perform vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to identify weaknesses.
Also known as Cracker, it intents personal gain from a system by gaining unauthorized access. The main intents are transferring funds to other bank accounts, stealing data, and violating rights.
They lie between black hat and white hat hackers and intend to reveal weaknesses to the system owner by penetrating without authority.
These types of hackers intend to spread religious, political, or social hatred by hijacking websites and spreading social, political, and religious misinformation.
These types of hackers are beginners; they intend to perform the illegal activity by accessing systems using existing hacking tools.
Phreaker: is a different type of hacker, who intends to identify and exploit the weakness of telephones.
There are also other types of hackers such as green hat (hackers currently in training), red hat (the ones hired by the government), blue hat (authorized software hackers), whistleblower hackers (malicious insider hackers), gaming hackers, crypto-hackers also known as cryptocurrency mining hackers, botnets (large scale hackers), and many more.
What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical meaning \”pertaining or dealing with right or wrong,\” but hacking means gaining access to a device or network legally or illegally.
Ethical hacking is identifying and fixing weaknesses of a computer network or a computer system. Ethical hacking is not done with the intent of harming a system but to fix the system and prevent them from other types of attacks or hacking. It is done by using the techniques of vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.
There is a huge difference between the act of ethical hacking and any other hacking. Ethical hacking is done for the right purposes with the right intent. In contrast, hacking is done with wrongful intent, and the hacker is also a criminal as per the guidelines.
Ethical hacking is performed by an ethical hacker or white-hat hacker legally. For an ethical hacker, it is mandatory to abide by certain rules, which are as follows:
Protecting the privacy of the organization they are working for or the organization they are hacking. No information should be leaked.
All the weaknesses identified during hacking must be reported with complete transparency.
Inform the vendor about the weaknesses, whether hardware-related or software-related.
Must have permission in writing from the owner of the organization or computer system for hacking their organization or system.
Why do we need ethical hacking?
Information and data play a major role these days in a variety of fields. Ranging from medical sciences, where data is required to monitor the health and for research of severe diseases like cancer, to marketing and artificial intelligence-driven industries where customer data is collected to monitor market trends and human behavior to design and improve their products.
Thus, making this data the most valuable asset for growth and success. Now, it becomes an organization\’s responsibility to keep this data and information safe and secure. It should not be leaked or open to any attack whatsoever the condition be. Otherwise, it could damage an organization\’s image and cost them a lot of money and legal troubles. Fake hacking can also be dangerous and backfire in a loss of business.
Hence, organizations try to opt for ethical hacking with matters relating to high data privacy and security. However, trying to save money and get trapped in fake hacking leads to losing image business and a great expense in the future. Ethical hacking is a bit costly but is the best solution. Many organizations spend a lot on ethical hacking to keep themselves ahead of data theft or cyber criminals. This is the best one can do.
Is ethical hacking legal?
Hacking is known as ethical only when done abiding by the rules discussed above in this article. Therefore, any hacker who abides by the defined rules is ethical.
Ethical hacking is legal.
You will be amazed to know that even being a part of the hacking business, it is rapidly growing in the Information Technology field. As a result, ethical hackers are becoming the highest-paid professionals.
Ethical hackers can work in a security team within an organization or can be individual security consultants. But, you can be an ethical hacker only when you have the certification from EC-Council (International Council for E-Commerce Consultants). The council provides a program to test an individual\’s skills using the examination process. This certificate also requires timely renewal.
There are several courses and certifications to learn and master ethical hacking skills while also being safe about your data and the legality of the hacking.
Scenarios when ethical hacking becomes illegal and can lead to legal troubles and lawsuits:
Exposing the confidential information of a company: An ethical hacker is not allowed to expose any kind of company information; in doing so, the hacking becomes illegal and leads to a lawsuit.
Destroying, altering, or misusing the data collected from a company also makes hacking illegal. In addition, the hacker might face a lawsuit for modification or attempting to modify any kind of information.
Introducing backdoors in the system for future access: It might sound tempting to have permanent access to a system, but it is also illegal to hold someone\’s information without their knowledge.
Current use cases of ethical hacking
Ethical hackers have been helping the government as well as organizations from fraud and crimes.
Ethical hacking can help banks identify the money theft and its source via penetrating the system and identifying the cause and origin of fraudulent activity.
In identifying the criminals committing cybercrime such as identity theft, impersonations, and online bullying by investigating into victim\’s account or personal details and access of this information to sources
Organizations: In identifying security loopholes and vulnerabilities
In conclusion, we know that ethical hacking is not illegal, given it is done under defined rules and regulations and by an authorized ethical hacker. The Indian government has not defined ethical hacking in any law. So for understanding the extent of its legality of it, one must first understand the concepts and laws of hacking. Ethical hacking lacks criminal intent which is why it is not considered illegal in India.
But other hacking techniques are, and we must protect ourselves from getting hacked by criminals. For this, we can have strong passwords, and some sites tell whether your accounts have ever been hacked or if there has been a data breach and your personal information is leaked. There have been several reported cases of data breaches in big organizations where people have been informed to secure their accounts.
Also, keep your personal information to yourself and do not share with any platform until and unless it is required and safe to share.
I hope you enjoyed this article and it is aware of the consequences of information sharing and security. Happy and safe surfing.
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