Before defining this term and getting into the characteristics of ethical hacking, I should define what is a hacker.
The term hacker is often used to refer to an expert or guru of one or more technical areas related to information technology (computer science) and telecommunications.
This person is an expert in areas like programming, security, operating systems, computer networks, etc., and their knowledge normally surpasses that of many professionals in their industry.
In the world of technology, hackers are usually associated with figures who are experts or who work in computer security, checking the vulnerability of these systems as well as developing software that improves any existing issues.
Beyond this terminology, there is another figure that is important to identify and that is different from the hacker.
This definition goes back to the eighties when the figure of the computer hacker began to emerge. It refers to someone who breaches the security of an IT system similar to the way a hacker does, but with the difference that they intrude for personal benefit or to inflict harm upon a mark.
Therefore, ethical hacking is the action that a hacker carries out in order to analyze corporate IT systems and programs for defensive and legal purposes, an acting as a cybercriminal or cracker would. Their work consists of carrying out simulated attacks on the company in order to analyze and assess the real status of the security of the corporation they are auditing.
The main goals of ethical hacking are as follows:
Prevent probable cybercrimes, to the extent possible, and resolve problems and vulnerabilities that may lead to a potential cyberattack on the system.
Raise awareness among workers at companies on the importance of IT security in their daily work, as we are exposed to potential attacks and vulnerabilities that may affect us both personally and professionally at all times. These include identity theft, industrial espionage, etc.
Even more importantly, they improve the security processes at the corporation in order to prevent potential attacks and future problems. These improvements include updating the software used by the companies, establishing a response plan and action protocol to respond to potential incidents with regard to computer security, etc.
It is important to underscore one thing: anyone wishing to work in the ethical hacking world must be expressly authorized by the company to carry out a security audit, because if they are not, they may be committing a very serious crime.
Normally the professionals who do this type of analysis and IT auditing draft and sign a document called an Ethical Hacking Report. This is a contract in which both the computer analyst (the hacker auditing the IT system) and the company detail the kinds of obligations and tests that will be carried out during the ethical hacking process.
This document includes information as important as the details of the results of hacking activities and tests that have been carried out, the vulnerabilities found during the audit, and the recommendations and next steps to avoid unauthorized persons taking advantage of them or, to the extent, to mitigate them in the event that they cannot be resolved or avoided. Terms and agreements as important as the integrity and confidentiality both for the auditor and the company are included in the clauses agreed to beforehand by both parties.
After seeing that large companies and corporations may have security vulnerabilities and problems, many lay users wonder whether the Internet is secure and, above all, what basic measures we can take in order to ensure that our connections are secure to the extent possible.
Here are some of the recommendations and actions that we should consider to protect ourselves, and you don’t have to be an expert to implement them:
Avoid accessing the system from public networks such as the ones at malls, cafés, airports, and similar locations. On this type of network, it is easy for someone to access your username and password for harmful actions.
Protect your username and password. You should try to memorize your passwords and not keep them written anywhere, as they may be compromised at any time. You should also establish an encrypted password using a combination of letters and numbers, as well as special characters, and change it every so often as well as whenever you suspect that it may have been compromised.
Protect your devices: tablets, PCs, smartphones, etc., with the latest software, app, and operating system updates, as well as by using antivirus software and a firewall.
Be suspicious of any website or application requesting personal data online on behalf of banks, companies you usually use for shopping or shipping, etc., and those that do not have a secure URL: HTTPS://. When in doubt of the truthfulness of data requested or the authenticity of pages visited, you should contact said provider through the established channels, since companies will normally never ask for information they should already have.
Never click the links included in emails from senders you don’t know or those available on third-party websites.
Be careful with friend requests from unknown people as well as the information you post on social media. You should only share information with people you know well. It’s very common for people to accept friend requests from people they don’t know or to follow back anyone who follows them. You should be very cautious with this if you have any minors in the house, as this practice is very common among young people.
By following these guidelines and recommendations, you’ll establish a much more secure communication network and, in many cases, avoid unnecessary surprises.