Certified Ethical Hackers are becoming critical to modern businesses
The reality today is the world will stop functioning without computers. Everyone is connected, and so are daily life necessities and critical services as well as businesses. And the more organizations get dependent on computers, more weaknesses are created, jeopardizing the safety and protection of business secrets and confidential personal information.
About twenty or thirty years ago, stealing information from an establishment required having a document in one’s possession. Today the only need is to have access to the company’s network. As former UK Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, once said, “The knock-on effect of a data breach can be devastating for a company. When customers start taking their business—and their money—elsewhere, that can be a real body blow.” Studies by the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60% of small companies are unable to sustain their business within six months of a cybercrime attack.
And so, as the world progresses through 2020 into the future, businesses are increasingly focusing on cybersecurity. The issue has become more urgent, with only 38% of global organizations claiming they are prepared for a cyberattack, with a hacker attack said to affect one in three Americans every year.
Furthermore, in the U.S., as cybercriminals increase their attacks on state governments, authorities are hiring professionals who have completed their Certified Ethical Hacking Course to help them expose underlying security flaws in their computer systems. “The goal is to find vulnerabilities before something happens,” said Jeffrey McLeod, director of the National Governors Association’s homeland security division.
Therefore, with networking being a given in today’s world, everyone realizes sooner or later, it is all about security and protection. Furthermore, protection is not just a product. American tech content strategy expert, Art Wittmann, puts it, “We’ve come to realize, the idea that security starts and ends with the purchase of a prepackaged firewall, is simply misguided.” Furthermore, cyber security experts agree, 90% of all cyber-attacks begin with a human weakness. Cyber security warrior Tim Holman, said, “You could buy the most high-tech security software, then the admin guy whacks a generic password on it … and you’re sunk”. So, businesses realize at great cost that no website is hack-proof. Anyone can be hacked over time.
As technology advances, so the cyber threat also grows. In 2019 cybersecurity was considered a serious issue, by the technology industry, businesses, authorities and the public. There were many ransomware attacks, credit card fraud, and a mass of new app releases.
According to the 2019 Official Annual Cybercrime Report released by California-based Cybersecurity Ventures, the world’s leading researcher and publisher covering the global cyber economy, “Cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.”
Former IBM Vice President John Patrick was the first to use the term “ethical hacking” in 1995, but the concept has been around even before that. And today, with over 30,000 websites estimated to be hacked daily, it indicates the scale of modern hacking and how it has its tentacles over businesses of all sizes. These malicious hackers come in different degrees – from inexperienced “script kiddies” copying earlier malicious hackers, to sophisticated modern cybercriminals persistent in their drive to break defenses. And even as the conventional image of a malicious hacker is someone seated behind a computer, these black hat hackers also seek alternative methods to break down systems, such as cracking passwords and engaging in forms of social engineering to mislead victims, making them part with confidential personal details or sensitive organizational information. Furthermore, in recent years, they have stepped up attacks on networks that contain personal information such as the Social Security, bank account and credit card numbers of millions of people and businesses.
The situation being such today, the need for Certified Ethical Hackers (CEH) has increased by leaps and bounds. These cyber professionals have obtained legitimate certification to assess weaknesses and vulnerabilities in computer systems. Their expertise is in assessing the security of computer systems, using the same knowledge and tools used by a malicious hacker, but in a legal and legitimate way.
The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council), headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the leading global information security certification body, defines an ethical hacker as “an individual who is usually employed with an organization and who can be trusted to undertake an attempt to penetrate networks and/or computer systems using the same methods and techniques as a malicious hacker.”
As Delaware’s Chief Security Officer, Elayne Starkey, who hires ethical hackers for regular penetration testing, said, “It’s peeling back the onion. We’re challenging the company to do what any competent hacker would do, to try to break into our systems.”
Hackers and cybercriminals are becoming savvier by the day as technology develops, and are consistently scanning computer networks, seeking out vulnerabilities. Therefore, a priority for ethical hackers is to seek out the vulnerabilities of an organization’s computer system.
So what are the responsibilities of ethical hackers?
An ethical hacker will –
- Scan the systems of an organization seeking vulnerable open ports. Upon discovering an issue, the ethical hacker studies the port to understand possible threats it could face, and resolves it to prevent possible attacks in the future.
- Will dive deep into the network, searching every corner, overturning digital trash bins to find deleted chats, passwords and other critical information that make an organization vulnerable to an attack.
- Will examine patch installations to ensure they are current
- Will also focus on helping resolve issues relating to online employee fraud and the theft of systems or laptops.
- Will attempt to dodge Intrusion Prevention Systems, Intrusion Detection Systems, firewalls and honeypots to ensure everything is working properly to protect the system.
- Will check for sniffing networks, cracked wireless encryptions, hijacked web servers and hijacked web applications. If such instances are uncovered, the ethical hacker’s responsibility is to fix them.
As Missouri’s former Chief Information Security Officer Michael Roling, once said, “The bad actors are coming after you either way. So, if we can get the white hats on our side, that’s a good thing.”