Ethical hacking is undertaken by Cyber Security experts certified to legally hack into a system to investigate and find out about its security status including the presence of any security vulnerabilities.
Implementing an ethical hacking strategy is not supposed to be the only security measure you take to protect your business but rather an additional layer of security. Indeed, ethical hacking makes your security comprehensive and holistic when combined with conventional IT security.
For this reason, hiring an ethical hacker will help you redress the balance that is often in favour of malicious hackers. It is imperative to hire an individual or a group with a reputable track record and certified credentials from reliable sources.
Why are Ethical Hackers in Demand?
The insidious nature of hacking makes it a direct threat to businesses of all types across the spectrum. As you would expect, hacking and cybersecurity, is, therefore, a top concern for organizations and companies today. As such, businesses take all sorts of measures to protect themselves from any cybersecurity threats.
Hiring an ethical hacker is just one of the many strategies that companies and organizations use to prevent irrevocable damage to operations and their bottom line. Also, they can take the initiative to train their present employees in Ethical Hacking course through various online corporate training programs.
At the very least, businesses have found out the hard way and now understand that the cost of hiring a hacker is a drop in the ocean when compared to the damage caused by malicious hackers.
In short, ethical hackers are always in demand because of businesses:
- Have a strong need for self-preservation (to protect operations and profits)
- Have responsibility and an obligation to protect its stakeholders including customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, etc.
- Have to face incessant attacks, almost by the minute
Is your Business Data Safe? What are the Major Threats?
To put it in no uncertain terms, your business data is indeed not safe. Even if you have taken internal measures to protect your data and your systems, hackers are continuously seeking ways to bypass your security.
Often, hackers use combined approaches and increasingly more powerful equipment to imagine ways of breaching your safety that you may not have even imagined.
That said, a majority of hacks tend to fall into the following categories.
Malware attacks: These attacks include the use of USB drive’s, infected websites, and other delivery methods, including malware piggy-backing on useful software, to capture passwords, keystrokes, and data on a system.
For example, in 2013, hackers infected a mobile developer’s website and were able to attack 40 companies including Facebook, Apple, and Twitter
Phishing emails: Fake emails that look very close to the real thing are used to prompt the victim to enter their password or redirect to an infected website. For example, in 2012, Scads was targeted with fake emails that looked like warnings from BBB (Better Business Bureau)
Social engineering: Hackers can either impersonate you to get vendors to surrender personal details about you. They could also pretend to be a service that you use seeking to confirm your personal information. The data is then used to gain access to logins that you use. For example, in 2009, hackers pretended to be the Coca Cola CEO and persuaded an executive to open an infected email that was used to infiltrate their network.
Ransomware: The hacker hijacks your website or data and blackmails you to pay ransom or else… For example, an Alabama TV station’s network was captured, and a red screen was broadcasted on computer screens until they had to pay the ransom.
Weak passwords: The hacker uses processing power (mostly from graphics cards) to go through billions of different combinations of characters that can make up a password. For example, in 2012, 1.5 million LinkedIn passwords were hacked in this way.
Recent Security Breaches
Cost of data hack: $1.5 million
What happened: Between May 2015 and July 2018 hackers orchestrated a deliberate, well-planned, and targeted attack on Singapore’s health database
What was lost: Names, addresses and personal records of patients in the government’s health database. The Prime Ministers personal details were also explicitly targeted
Cost of data hack: $14 million
What happened: In January 2018, hackers gained access to a computer system that stored driver and customer data
What was lost: Names, addresses, phone numbers, and trip data
Cost of data hack: Approximately $2 million
What happened: In August 2018 hackers accessed T-Mobiles servers using an API
What was lost: Names, addresses, personal records, and passwords.
Cost of data hack: $1.1 billion
What happened: Hackers accessed India’s government ID database (also stores citizen biometric data) through an API. The data breach was discovered in March 2018
What was lost: Names, addresses, and personal records
How Ethical Hackers Protect Your Data
Fundamentally, ethical hackers educate, test, protect and prepare businesses from threats posed by hackers to their systems and data. The most persuasive case for hiring ethical hackers is the use of penetration testing which is done by finding vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker can target. Depending on the business in question, Pen Tests can be done in a variety of ways. Here are a few typical methods used:
- Blind Testing: the ethical hacker simulates a real attack from a malicious hacker to find vulnerabilities.
- External Testing: the ethical hacker seeks to penetrate externally exposed systems like DNS and Web servers
- Internal Testing: the ethical hacker explores vulnerabilities in internal systems such as logins and privileged access
- Targeted testing: ethical hackers and internal IT security experts combine forces to find weaknesses in systems and data access
Some of the other ways that an ethical hacker can protect business and stave off threats include the following:
- A proactive approach: By finding existing vulnerabilities and fixing them before hacker’s attack
- Ethical hackers understand the mindset and tools of malicious hackers and can, therefore, defend against such attacks.
- Ethical hackers educate employees on what they can do to protect themselves and the business from hacks.
- Ethical hackers can sense new threats before conventional security. This is because, ethical hackers share and communicate in the same realm that malicious hackers exist and thrive, the dark web.
It’s certainly not mandatory to hire an ethical hacker. That said, conventional IT security has thus far not been able to keep up with security threats as they keep morphing in size, variety, intensity, and methodology. In fact, no system is immune to hacker attacks.
As such, a multidimensional approach to cybersecurity is required, where both internal and external cybersecurity experts, including ethical hackers, work together for the good of the business. Such a multidimensional approach is the most prudent approach to prevent your business from falling victim to hackers.