If you are techy, you must have come across the word hacking. Hacking, in computer terms, is the process of gaining unauthorized access to a computer network or system. By breaking into a system, the person can misuse the data stored and manipulate the information. Ethical hacking, as the name suggests, is the practice of getting into a network for good reasons. For any organization, cyber security is of prime importance. The intention behind ethical hacking is to assess the safety of system’s infrastructure. It involves an attempt to find and exploit vulnerabilities in a network and to establish if an illegal access is possible. Vulnerabilities can arise due to inappropriate system configuration and functional inabilities in technical or procedural counter-measures. An organization involved in an online service or having an internet-linked network should utilise ethical hacking to strengthen its information security by checking if the network is prone to attacks from outside. Before hiring an individual or an organization for the purpose of ethical hacking, it is necessary to read their agreements and understand the code of conduct to know how they will conduct the testing and handle the results, as they will possibly contain classified information about the system and the operations. Only once the organisation grants its lawful consent to probe and report system vulnerabilities, should the “ethical hackers” go ahead with their testing and identification business. Hacking can be deemed ethical only if the hacker has the authorization from the organisation to explore its network and try to discover impending security risks. Who is an ethical hacker? Basically, a hacker is someone who accesses your network without your consent. Hackers can just shoulder-surf you and figure out your password and username to get hold of your data. An ethical hacker, on the other hand, is a data security professional who attempts to break into the network security and see if there exists anything that malicious hackers could easily gain access to. The ethical hacker is a networking expert who methodically tries to break into a computer system on behalf of a consenting organisation to find security weaknesses that a nasty attacker could possibly exploit. By knowing this, the organization is able to improve its network security thereby eliminating the risk of security attacks. An ethical hacker attempts to decipher if a network has been adequately protected or what he can do to protect a system. The ethical hacker tries to think and operate like a black hat hacker with the purpose of helping the organization in its endeavours to defend influential information assets. People who wish to become an ethical hacker can undergo ethical hacking training. They can take a certification called Certified Ethical Hacker to pursue hacking as a job to help with network security. The process of becoming an ethical hacker involves multiple steps. Aspiring professionals should have basic knowledge and experience about working in a network environment or have a vendor certification such as CCNA or CCNB, so they are familiar with network landscape and the fundamentals of network security. Once they meet these criteria, they can engage in EC Council’s five –day Certified Ethical Hacker course. During this course, candidates study numerous hacking tools, methods, exploits and programs in the training facility. Once the course ends, candidates have to sit for a four-hour exam. The candidates who successfully complete the course and clear the exam become certified ethical hackers. Steps to becoming an ethical hacker #1. Types of hacking There are different types of hacking namely, White Hat, Black Hat and Grey Hat. A person who wants to become a hacker must know that Grey Hats and White Hats correspond to ethical hacking and Black Hat corresponds to illegal hacking. Good hackers are usually employed for penetration testing. #2. Know your skills If you have a degree in Information Technology, Computer Science or Mathematics, the job is easy for you. Every company has a different criterion to become a hacker. In addition, you must possess skills like the ability to handle pressure, good problem- solving ability and think creatively. In addition to technical know-how, ethical hacking also requires soft skills. You need to possess solid work ethic, excellent analytical and communications skills, and stay dedicated and motivated. Ethical hackers need to be street smart and have a flair for manipulation as they need to convince others to divulge identification, reboot or close systems, run files in order to achieve their eventual goal. #3. Learn programming languages When you start a career in ethical hacking, you may have to worked with various operating systems like UNIX, LINUX, and Windows etc. You may also have to work with various programming languages. So, learn the languages like Java, C++, and Python etc. in advance. It will also be good to register for ECIH program which provides all the fundamental skills. #4. Have a good foundation Foundation here means something more than your education background. Ethical hacking is a field which gets updated every single day. Apart from having a certification, it is vital for you to be up-to-date on hacking techniques. If you want to stand out in the crowd, regular practice and knowledge base are inevitable. Get an A+ Certification and some experience with an additional certification like CCNA to become a network administrator or a network engineer in one or two years. #5. The certification Finally, you may get a certification from the EC council that you are an ethical hacker. Companies look for candidates who possess this certification. Once you pass the 4 hour test, you are a qualified ethical hacker. You can attend training before you take the test so that you are prepared to face it. #6. Be legal It is imperative for ethical hackers to stay away from unethical hacking or intruding anyone’s system without getting permission. Taking part in unlawful activities can even lead to imprisonment and end your ethical hacking profession. There are a lot of firms that require the services of a certified ethical hacker. With more companies popping up, the need to maintain the security of networks is on the rise. So, get selected in the best firm and make your name in the field.