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- Certified Ethical Hacker
The IT field offers plenty of career options depending on your specific preferences. One such set of jobs relate to IT security. Various reasons such as the greater use of the Internet for critical functions have led to more instances of hacking into the IT networks of private and government organizations for malicious purposes or financial gain. This has led to IT administrators and senior management in both the private and government sectors looking to beef up the security of the networks they manage. As increasingly more information is placed in IT networks and innovations such as telecommuting, remote access, and mobile access become more common, the need for ethical hackers is only likely to increase.
Ethical Hackers: Who Are They?
Ethical hackers are computer experts who deliberately try and penetrate the IT infrastructure of an organization in order to identify its vulnerabilities and report these to the management. They are also called White Hat hackers and they only gain legitimately from their hacking abilities. They are paid by the organization they work to find information that can be used to better safeguard the IT network.
Almost all sectors and industries that use IT networks for crucial tasks now realize that when it comes to the security of their databases and networks, offense can often be the best defense. They achieve this by hiring people who look for weak points in the network and try to penetrate it. The information they gain about a system’s vulnerabilities will help the organization secure the system better.
Depending on their interests and knowledge levels, ethical hackers can find career opportunities in the defense, banking, and finance sectors as well as private and government organizations.
Each of these sectors requires network security for various reasons. The solutions they have evolved are different and depend on both the type of transactions involved and the type of data collected. As such, ethical hackers need to decide to specialize in a particular sector and become familiar with its IT requirements. For instance, the banking sector needs to be able to provide secure passwords and access to many customers over the Internet, while the defense sector and its IT needs are different since it does not have to cater to the needs of retail customers.
Since network security can be compromised by vulnerabilities in the hardware or the software, ethical hackers can specialize in either of the two areas: hardware and software. While all ethical hackers should be aware of the functions of both the hardware and software aspects of a system, they need to specialize in a particular field in order to be very effective.
For instance, while those hackers who specialize in software attacks will need to know about all the codes and programming languages in use, those who want to ethically hack using the hardware route will need to learn about wireless networks, Bluetooth, and other ways in which IT networks are formed.
The increasing use of mobile technology to access the Web can pose different challenges from those caused by accessing the Web using more traditional methods. As such, ethical hackers can choose to specialize in particular IT technologies such as Wi-Fi access, mobile access, and so on.
Ethical hackers are assigned various job titles such as:
- IT network security administrators
- Network defense analysts
- Application security testers
- Web security administrators
- Forensic analysts
- Security analysts
- Security auditors and
- Penetration testers (broadly classified under network security surveillance)
Depending on the particular interests of the ethical hacker, their experience, and expertise, they can perform one of the many tasks associated with making IT networks secure from those who would like to profit from its vulnerabilities.
IT Network Security Administrators
The IT Network Security Admin is responsible for the overall security of the network. They have to ensure that the network is tested frequently for vulnerabilities, that all identified loopholes are plugged, and also monitor the network for suspicious activity that indicates an unauthorized hacking attempt.
Network Defense Analysts
Network Defense Analysts analyze the defense of a network such firewalls to ensure that they cannot be breached. They report their findings to others who are responsible for fixing the breaches located.
Application Security Testers
Since there are many different IT applications, languages, and packages used by various organizations, it is difficult for a single person to be knowledgeable about them all. Application Security Testers specialize in testing particular types of applications for loopholes and vulnerabilities.
Web Security Administrators
As the name indicates, Web Security Admins are responsible for ensuring that the IT network of an organization is not hacked via the Web.
Forensic Analysts analyze possible attacks on an IT network and identify the source of the attack as well as the level of penetration gained. This helps the organization shore up its defenses that can block access to the attackers.
Security auditors assess the level of security that an IT network has in place and recommend increases if necessary. They assess the complexity of passwords and other mechanisms put in place by the IT department to ensure that only authorized users can access the database and network.
Penetration Testers are the ethical hackers who try and penetrate into an IT network in order to see if it is secure. They are aware of all the potential ways in which malicious hackers can break into a network or system and test the organization’s network to ensure that it is completely secure.
A commitment to security
Ethical hackers need to have a strong commitment to protecting IT networks even as they put themselves in the place of malicious hackers to understand the approach an attacker would take to penetrate a network and cause damage either by forcing a website to close down or accessing confidential information.
Since technology in the IT sector is constantly developing, the methods by which malicious hackers can access a network also change constantly. To be successful as an ethical hacker, one needs to keep in touch with the latest innovations in the field and examine all of them for potential hacking opportunities.
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