Hackers are widely understood to be shady networking experts, coders, and computer professionals with malicious intent towards the online cyberspace. These hackers also called ‘cyber-criminals,’ aim to illegally infiltrate computer systems so that they can get access to precious data. This data includes confidential records, bank account details, imagery, authentication credentials, and all other kinds of sensitive information, which could be monetized. The data is either sold, processed, manipulated, or held for ransom.
While a general perception of hacking exists in the broader community, the concept of ethical hacking still seems to be alien to many people. It may have something to do with the negative connotations attached to the word ‘hacking’ itself that the preceding term ‘ethical’ seems contradictory and, consequently, somewhat confusing.
Hacking is merely finding the existing loopholes and vulnerabilities in security systems. The path of the hacker that follows this step differentiates the bad guys from the good. The criminals will use their hacking exploits to achieve further access and pursue malicious objectives. Ethical hackers will use their hacking exploits to inform the systems’ owners about the vulnerabilities so that they could be remediated.
Another critical difference between the ethical hackers, or ‘white hat’ hackers, and the cybercriminals, is that they seek permission from the owners before infiltrating the systems. In contrast, on the other hand, the entire premise of criminal hacking is to gain access illegally.
Why Ethical Hacking is Important
The importance of a different perspective is vital for the resilience of security systems. The team behind the system architecture and the security infrastructure can only gauge the system’s strength from their own point of view since they developed it. Many vulnerabilities go unnoticed when checked from a single perspective, making ethical hacking even more crucial for security systems.
The white hat hackers can uncover vulnerabilities in the firewalls that were previously unknown by the dev’s, making ethical hacking a necessity for companies since that outside perspective makes all the difference.
Moreover, the entire act of letting an ethical hacker attack your information stronghold is a simulation of an actual cybercriminal potentially attempting to penetrate the company defenses. This is why the company provides no information to the ethical hacker, and the hacker must gather Intel on their own, as would any cybercriminal.
Companies Want Ethical Hackers
Ethical hackers are heavily invited to infiltrate company defenses due to a multitude of reasons. It lets them outsource security scans and then resolve the issues without too much service downtime. The white hat hackers are welcome to work under the vulnerability disclosure policy published by the concerned organization so that way they can supervise the progress of the white hat hackers who are just as skilled as the ‘black hat’ (cybercriminals).
Other than issuing the vulnerability disclosure policy, many companies employ bug bounty schemes to incentivize ethical hacking further. Hackers who find, expose, and report the bugs and cracks in company systems to the owners receive substantial financial compensation and sometimes permanent jobs. Usually, added to the threat of being caught by the law, this serves more incentive for black hat hackers to help out organizations instead of attacking them.