Ethical Hacking 101: Top Tips for Becoming a White Hat Hacker

by Caroline
Published: Last Updated on

Thanks to the rise in cyber attacks and breaches, cybersecurity has gone on to become a booming industry. According to market research firm Gartner, companies now spend over $96 billion on digital safety strategies alone, and even more on testing and upgrades.

While it may seem like a bit of a contradiction, but another security investment that companies are making right now is hiring white hat hackers. More popularly known as “ethical hackers,” their job is to legally break into IT systems and networks to identify lapses in their defences and see how they can be improved. What’s evident from the sheer number of courses for ethical hackers on Udemy is the huge roles that they can fill — from testing the integrity of your home network to landing a career in IT system security management. Think of them as your resident internet guardians, as their skillset will only continue to grow as hacks become more complicated as the years go by.

What’s important to remember is that not all hackers are criminals, despite the negative connotations. If you wish to pursue a career in ethical hacking, here are some tips to help you get started:

Understand the qualifications

Like any other job, to be an ethical hacker, you need to need to have specific qualifications before you can get hired. This typically includes the following:

  • A minimum of two years of work experience in security-related jobs to familiarise yourself with the industry
  • A background in social engineering and cloud computing
  • A deep understanding of advanced networking devices and concepts to prevent “black” hackers from penetrating your client’s network

Once you have developed the basic know-how, it’s time to put them into practice.

Test your Hacking Skills

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. If you want to be an ethical hacker, you have to practice it daily. But is it safe – and most importantly, legal – to do so? The answer to both is yes. There are purposefully vulnerable sites such as bWAPP, Google Gruyere, and McAfee HacMe for you to practice some legal hacking. Some sites even offer their tutorials to help you, while others will require you to find things on your own. Find out which method suits you best.

Become a true Certified Hacker

Having a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is a great way to show your potential clients some credentials. The demand for white hat hackers has increased exponentially, as cybercriminals find more advanced ways to hack into organisational networks. The US Bureau of Labor is expecting a 28% rise in the need for security analysts(including ethical hackers) from 2016 to 2026. If you want to distinguish yourself even more from the competition and become a specialist, there are also certification tests for defence penetration (SANS GPEN), offensive security (OSCP), as well as overall capacity (CREST).

Join hacking Conferences

Conferences are essential events in almost every industry, and information security is no different. For example, Hacken hosts an annual event called HackIT, an international forum where some of the most talented hackers compete for the opportunity to work for the best IT companies in the world. Conferences like this are an excellent way to meet likeminded professionals, find potential clients while making a name for yourself in the process.

While many white hat hackers don’t make much money from bug bounty programs, some have mastered the art and made millions in compensation. IT solutions company HackerOne recently announced how six of their hackers who have signed up for their bug bounty program are earning seven figures. In other words, the path to riches isn’t limited to 9-to-5 office jobs and keeping a close eye on the stock market. Technology has opened up a new stream of opportunities that were once unheard of, but still worth looking into nonetheless.

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