Understanding Penetration Testing
People who like to pry their way into places they shouldn’t be and break and/or steal things they find inside often make good penetration testers. That’s because the art and science of penetration testing is all about trying to access an organization’s digital assets, information and systems in order to find weaknesses, report them and offer solutions so that the organization can correct these flaws.
If this sounds like fun to you, you might be the right candidate to take a certified ethical hacker course and become an ethical hacker who specializes in penetration testing. There’s no doubt that companies need ethical hackers (also known as white hat hackers) on their IT team due to the volume of non-ethical hackers in the world today who are looking to steal data and cause costly breaches. Individuals who earn their certified ethical hacker certification are likely to have a secure and well-paid job for the foreseeable future.
In fact, there is a shortage of ethical hackers in Canada according to a 2018 study conducted by Toronto Finance International and Deloitte. The study reported the globe needs about 1.8 million more, cybersecurity experts. That’s a lot of job demand! One of the areas identified is ethical hackers with a focus on penetration testing.
Penetration testing is a subset of ethical hacking. It is an exploration of how a specific information system can be accessed, but without the damage or theft that would be caused by a black hat hacker. This identification of compromise risks should be done regularly in order to stay abreast of flaws that can be exposed by the new methods attackers constantly find.
In contrast, an ethical hacker looks more inclusively at all systems and potential security flaws. Penetration testing is one method used by an ethical hacker.
Why Take a Certified Ethical Hacking Course?
The term “hacker” often conjures up an image of someone sitting in a darkened basement, consuming lots of caffeine, playing on their computer and accidentally finding ways into databases and company assets. It’s been a long time since 1983 when the movie War Games came out and introduced this type of computer hacking scenario.
The truth of our times is that hacking and stealing data for resale, identity theft and other purposes is big business. Instead of sitting in a darkened room alone, there are black hat hackers sitting together in what seems like a legitimate office space using computers to access organizational and individual information. This is exactly why there is a need for certified ethical hacker certification and courses that teach penetration testing. To succeed at being one of the “good” hackers, individuals must be able to think like “bad” hackers and approach the situation using the same tools and techniques. Like anything in an electronic world, there are always going to be new tools and techniques available to black hat hackers and in order to be successful as penetration testers, white hat hackers must constantly upgrade their education in order to have the same knowledge.
Certified ethical hacker course focus on training white hat hackers how to approach electronic assets methodically and systematically using all of the latest tools that room full of black hat hackers has access to. They will learn penetration testing so that they can identify flaws in individual systems before the black hat hackers ever know they exits.
This is why penetration testing on a website, app, mobile platform or other system is so important. Getting a white hat hacker to work as a penetration tester and find the problems and report them will allow an organization to correct them before they can be exploited. Certified ethical hacker certification programs also include training in how penetration testers can create a report of issues and help identify how they can be fixed after they have done the testing on the system.
Skills Required to be a Penetration Tester
A penetration tester needs to have a wide range of skills to be great at their job. First and foremost, they must be willing to constantly learn and upgrade their education as the electronic world undergoes constant change. One of the areas where education and skills are needed is in social engineering. Hackers are clever. They know how to use various scams in order to access an individual’s data from their own devices and systems. They will also make use of data acquired through other breaches that include individual data. A penetration tester must be able to anticipate how a black hat hacker uses social engineering methods while also identifying and suggesting ways to prevent the exploitation that can come from them.
That example noted above about War Games? That’s a case of manual penetration. Someone is manually applying their skills and tools in order to access a system. There are automated tools as well. Therefore a penetration tester must be familiar with both manual and automated methods and know how to use them expertly. This leads to the methodical and systematic approach noted above. When doing penetration testing, the methodology must be identified and followed. Penetration testers have to identify their scope of the attack and build an appropriate work structure to achieve it.
When organizations have a number of systems, it means that a penetration tester may be exposed to each of them as they move from project to project. They must have an awareness and familiarity with a number of electronic platforms from mobile devices to computers; cloud-based systems to databases.
Finally, all of the information obtained in a penetration test must culminate in a report. Therefore all good certified ethical hacker courses will explain how to create a report that will give the organization the information it needs in order to understand weaknesses and prevent future attack through them.
Penetration testers are at the heart of the ethical hacking profession. They are a much-needed asset in an organization’s IT department in order to identify and prevent the security breaches that can happen that cost millions (and billions) of dollars, corporate reputations, lost business and public confidence.
Read our other blog: How to Become a White Hat Hacker