Ethical Hacking - What Ethical Hackers Know and Do?

Last updated: Mar 7, 2023

Ethical hacking is the practice of testing a computer system's security measures to identify potential vulnerabilities. It involves intruding and obtaining unauthorized access to a computer system in order to gain an understanding of its weaknesses and improve its overall security. Ethical hackers use both manual and automated methods in order to uncover any flaws within the system that could be exploited by malicious actors. The main purpose of ethical hacking is to protect systems from malicious attacks and exploitation, as well as improve their overall performance. Ethical hacking can also be used for compliance with government regulations or industry standards such as PCI-DSS or HIPAA. By performing regular ethical hacks, organizations can ensure they are compliant with these regulations while also protecting their data from malicious actors.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is the practice of using computer systems and networks to test their security measures in order to protect against malicious attacks, such as data theft or disruption of services. Ethical hackers use techniques and tools similar to those used by malicious hackers, including port scanning, social engineering, malware analysis, and penetration testing. They are also familiar with system vulnerabilities and how attackers could exploit them. The goal of an ethical hacker is to identify any security issues that may exist in a system or network before a malicious attacker can exploit them.

The process typically begins with a "scope review," where ethical hackers define what activities they will conduct on the target system or network. This allows them to focus their efforts on areas that are likely to be vulnerable instead of wasting time checking every single aspect of the system. After this initial step is complete, ethical hackers then begin assessing the environment for potential risks and vulnerabilities by conducting various tests such as port scans, vulnerability scans, web application scans, etc. Once possible weaknesses have been identified, ethical hackers can then work with administrators or IT staff members to correct any flaws found during testing so that they can no longer be exploited by malicious actors in the future.

Benefits of Ethical Hacking

The first benefit of ethical hacking is the identification and closure of security gaps. Hackers, who are trained to think like malicious attackers, can find weaknesses in a system that normal users would miss. By identifying and closing these gaps, organizations reduce their vulnerability against unauthorized access and cyber-attacks. 

The second benefit of ethical hacking is improved network performance. As hackers test systems for vulnerabilities, they also check for any software or hardware issues that may be causing slowdowns or crashes. By resolving these issues, organizations can ensure optimal performance from their networks and keep downtime to a minimum.

Finally, ethical hacking helps organizations comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA by ensuring that customer data is secure from unauthorized access or manipulation. By performing regular tests on the system’s security protocols, organizations can ensure they are meeting the requirements set by these regulations and avoid any hefty fines due to non-compliance.

Types of Ethical Hacking

White Hat Hacking is the most common type of ethical hacking. It involves using the same techniques as malicious hackers, but in a legal and legitimate manner to test a computer system's security. A White Hat hacker will attempt to penetrate networks or systems using various tools and techniques in order to identify any possible security weaknesses that could be exploited by malicious attackers. The goal is not to cause damage, but rather to help create a more secure environment for all users.

Black Hat Hacking goes beyond the scope of ethical hacking, as it involves breaking into computer systems without the owner's permission. This type of hacking is usually done with malicious intent and can involve stealing data from an organization or destabilizing its operations by attacking its network infrastructure. Black hat hackers may also target individuals for personal gain, such as identity theft or blackmailing them for money.

Grey Hat Hacking falls somewhere between white hat and black hat hacking - it generally does not have malicious intent but still involves penetrating a computer system without authorization from its owner. Grey hat hackers often use their skills to uncover vulnerabilities in software applications or hardware devices before anyone else discovers them so they can report them back to the manufacturer or developer first in exchange for some form of recognition or compensation.

Ethical Hacking Tools 

Ethical hacking tools are important in helping to secure networks and systems. These tools can help ethical hackers identify, assess, and protect against vulnerabilities. They also aid in security testing of applications and systems for organizations. Popular ethical hacking tools include Nmap, Wireshark, Burp Suite, Acunetix Vulnerability Scanner, Metasploit Framework, John the Ripper, Aircrack-ng, Hydra Password Cracker and OpenVAS.  

Nmap is a free network scanner that helps with network exploration and security auditing. It allows ethical hackers to detect hosts on a network as well as the services they are providing. Wireshark is a packet sniffer that captures packets off of a wire or wireless LAN segment which can then be analyzed for signs of suspicious activity or malicious traffic. Burp Suite is an integrated platform used by security professionals to carry out various web application security testing tasks such as vulnerability scanning and exploitation of web applications through proxy servers. Acunetix Vulnerability Scanner is an automated web application vulnerability scanner used to detect system vulnerabilities in websites and web applications before they are exploited by malicious entities or attackers. Metasploit Framework is an open-source toolkit used for developing exploits for existing vulnerabilities in software products as well as creating new ones. John the Ripper is a password cracking tool commonly used during penetration tests to recover passwords from encrypted files such as hashes (MD5 etc.). 

Ethical Hacking Techniques

Port-scanning is one of the most commonly used ethical hacking techniques. It involves the use of a scanner to identify open ports on a system, which can then be used to access the system and extract sensitive information. This technique is often used by attackers in order to gain access to a system’s resources or data. Ethical hackers use port-scanning as an initial step in their attack process to determine how vulnerable a system is and what type of attack they should launch against it. 

Another common ethical hacking technique is vulnerability scanning, which consists of scanning target systems for known weaknesses and vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Attackers use this type of scan to look for unpatched software or hardware components, misconfigured settings, or other security flaws that could be leveraged by malicious actors. Ethical hackers can then use these findings to recommend patches or upgrades that would improve the overall security posture of the organization's networks and systems.  

Network mapping is yet another useful ethical hacking technique designed to uncover hidden devices and services on a network, allowing them to gain insight into how the network works and where potential points of entry exist for malicious actors. Network mapping involves scanning all IP addresses within an organization’s network range in order to locate active devices, as well as associated services running on those devices such as web servers, databases etc.. Once identified, ethical hackers will then assess each device/service for any potential vulnerabilities before taking corrective action if needed. 

Ethical Hacking Certification

Ethical hacking certification is a professional certification that allows IT professionals to demonstrate their knowledge in the field of ethical hacking and information security. Certifications are offered through multiple vendors, including CompTIA, EC-Council, and GIAC. Generally speaking, these certifications require successful completion of an exam that tests knowledge on topics such as system security, cryptography, malware analysis, and network defense. Most certifications also require a certain level of experience or proof of competency before they can be obtained. 

Certification can be beneficial for those looking to advance their career in the field of ethical hacking. It serves as evidence of one’s proficiency in the field and may even lead to higher salaries or promotions within organizations. Additionally, many employers now prefer candidates with applicable certifications when recruiting for positions related to information security and ethical hacking. Therefore having an ethical hacking certification may give individuals a competitive edge when applying for jobs or negotiating salaries. 

Ethical Hacking Jobs 

Ethical hacking jobs involve helping organizations identify and fix potential vulnerabilities in their networks and systems. Ethical hackers use the same tools and techniques as malicious hackers, but instead of exploiting any discovered weaknesses to gain unauthorized access or cause disruption, they report them to the organization so that security can be improved. As a result of this work, ethical hackers are often referred to as white hat hackers or penetration testers. Ethical hacking jobs require a deep understanding of computer systems, networks, and programming languages. In addition to technical skills, ethical hackers must have strong communication skills in order to clearly explain their findings in reports and other documents. They must also be able to think like an attacker in order to anticipate potential threats before they become a problem for the organization they are working with. 

Ethical Hacking Challenges 

Ethical hacking challenges allow individuals to hone their skills in a safe and secure environment. These challenges provide a platform for hackers to practice and test their skills against simulated scenarios and environments without the risk of compromising real-world systems. Challenges are designed to teach hackers how to think like an attacker, identify vulnerabilities, exploit those vulnerabilities and protect systems from malicious threats. Common ethical hacking challenges include physical security tests, network penetration testing, application security assessments and web application security testing. These scenarios help practitioners gain hands-on experience that is essential for securing networks, applications and data in the real world. They also offer valuable insights into the inner workings of a variety of technologies that can be used by defenders to better protect networks against actual attackers. By participating in ethical hacking challenges, practitioners can acquire new technical knowledge as well as sharpen problem solving skills which will ultimately lead to improved defensive strategies. 


Ethical hacking is a powerful tool that can be used to protect information systems and networks. The process of ethical hacking involves a thorough understanding of the target system, the ability to identify potential vulnerabilities and the use of appropriate security measures to reduce those risks. Ethical hackers must always operate within legal boundaries, with an aim to protect an organization’s data from malicious attacks. In conclusion, ethical hackers play a vital role in protecting organizations from cyber threats by helping them detect and fix any possible weaknesses in their systems before they are exploited by malicious actors. Ethical hacking is an important part of ensuring online safety for both companies and individuals alike, as it helps keep networks secure and free from attack. As more organizations become increasingly reliant on digital systems for day-to-day operations, ethical hacking will continue to be a necessary component in providing effective cybersecurity solutions.