An Overview on Ethical Hacking
Before we proceed to understand all about ethical hacking, let us understand what is hacking. In 1960, MIT engineers carried out some harmless technical experiments for learning activities, which were so-called hacks. Actually, they were experiments with methods in breaking into phone networks for making free long distance calls. MIT is where the terms “hacking” and “hacker” were coined. As computer networking exploded in popularity, data networks became the most common target of hackers.Hacking is the act of discovering all possible vulnerabilities or entry points in a computer system or a computer network and exploiting these vulnerabilities to break into the system. The objective of hacking is gaining unauthorised access to a computer network or computer system, either with the intention of causing potential harm to the system, deleting system files or stealing sensitive information stored on the computer, with the objective of blackmailing the computer owner for ransom. Hackers usually send programs into the computer system for manipulating the data passing through the network. Hacking is illegal and can lead to dire consequences for the hacker when caught in the act.
Now that we know what hacking is, let us move on to what is ethical hacking. Ethical hacking is the legal act of protecting an organisation’s data by officially penetrating and testing the information system and computers for finding potential security vulnerabilities or cracks and accordingly fixing them. The professional who performs the task of ethical hacking is called an ethical hacker. He or she hacks into a computer of network system with prior permission and without any malicious intent, to find out vulnerabilities. The core responsibilities of an ethical hacker are protecting the system’s data from unethical hackers, ensuring that respective data is accessible only by the relevant personnel in the organisation and eliminating potential threats of DOS, or Denial of Service attacks. Ethical hackers are hired by companies to hack into their system to find out vulnerabilities and weak end points, so that they can be fixed. This is done as a precautionary measure against illegitimate hackers who have malicious intent.
Basically, there are three types of hackers. i.e. Black Hat hackers, White Hat hackers and Grey Hat hackers. As the name suggest, black hat hackers are the most dangerous of them all, because they hack computers of systems with the malicious intention of doing harm to the user or organisation by stealing sensitive information or manipulating data. White hat hackers are what we call ethical hackers, who are officially associated with an organisation for protecting sensitive information from being stolen by black hat hackers. Grey hat hackers are a combination of black hat and white hat hackers. Sometimes, grey hat hackers are associated with organisations and do ethical permission based hacking for the organisation, but parallelly they also hack into network without permission with the sole intention of bringing the vulnerability or security flaw to the notice of the organisation, expecting appreciation or a little bounty.