A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Career in Ethical Hacking
Ethical hacking involves identifying security flaws in systems and networks to prevent potential data breaches and cyber-attacks. Ethical hackers use their technical knowledge and security skills to assess vulnerabilities that malicious hackers could exploit. This guide explores how to build a career in ethical hacking.
Why is Ethical Hacking Important?
Organizations use ethical hacking to identify security vulnerabilities in their systems and networks and create defences against data breaches. Ethical hacking provides a proactive approach to security, ensuring that systems and networks are secure and better able to withstand cyber-attacks.
How to Get Started in Ethical Hacking: Training and Certifications
Step 1: Get a Degree
Although there is no predetermined path to becoming an ethical hacker, a degree in computer science, information technology, or mathematics is an excellent starting point.
Step 2: Get Certified
With the exponential growth in demand for ethical hackers, there are now a variety of free courses and training programs available to help individuals hone their skills and gain hands-on experience in ethical hacking. Enrolling in one of these training courses or a Bootcamp can be highly beneficial for your professional development as an ethical hacker. Certification is also crucial, as it enhances your credibility and professional profile, making it easier to secure a job with a tech company.
Some of the most popular and widely acquired certifications are:
- EC Council: Certified Ethical Hacking Certification
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) Certification
- CompTIA Security+
- Cisco’s CCNA Security\sSANS GIAC
Step 3: Develop Skills
To acquire skills as an ethical hacker, it is important to have a good understanding of various computer functions. However, it is recommended to specialize in one area and become a subject matter expert (SME). Regardless of the area of specialization, all ethical hackers should possess the following skills:
- Proficiency in scripting languages
- Expertise in operating systems
- A deep understanding of networking
- A solid foundation in information security principles.
Apart from the aforementioned skills, it’s important to possess strong problem-solving abilities, the capability to handle stress, and innovative thinking. It’s essential to develop a learning mindset to constantly improve and grow in your profession. Additionally, you need to have a sound understanding of programming languages such as HTML, ASP, C/C++, Python, Java, etc. To stand out, it’s also important to have soft skills such as passion for the field, excellent communication skills, adaptability, and creativity.
Step 4: Get Experience
To develop as an ethical hacker, you need to practice. Familiarize yourself with vulnerability testing tools like Metasploit, OpenVAS, and Nessus because they offer a valuable framework for scanning and managing security. You can practice addressing vulnerable machines from Hack The Box and Vulnhub. Try bug bounty platforms to simulate real-world conditions
Step 5: Get an Internship
Seize every opportunity to learn by working on real-life projects. You can start working on real-life projects and seize every opportunity to learn. An internship is an excellent way to get hands-on experience in the field and work on real-life projects. Think like a thief and use your technical knowledge and security skills to try to breach the network security of the company or organization that hired you.
Expected Salary Range for Ethical Hackers
On average, you can expect to earn $90,000 per year, which translates to $7,500 per month, $1,875 per week, and $375 per day.
Tips for Building a Successful Career in Ethical Hacking
As you start your ethical hacking career, continue to learn continually. Read articles and reports, watch videos or slide presentations, and cultivate the habit of learning and evolving to allow growth in your craft. At CurateDesk, we encourage our readers to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Think differently and consider unconventional ideas. Ask yourself questions like: What did the developer overlook? What would a thief want? How desperate can they be? Be fast and accurate, like a ninja. You’ll be hired to think like hackers and stay ahead of them.
It is essential to remember that ethical hacking is not just about finding vulnerabilities and fixing them. It is also about maintaining professional and ethical standards. As an ethical hacker, you have access to confidential and sensitive information that requires the highest level of integrity and trust.
Unfortunately, there are limited degree or boot camp programs that address this crucial aspect. It is vital to remember that you have a choice and don’t have to accept every job. When considering a project, ask yourself whether it will have a positive impact or if you’re solely doing it for financial gain. If it’s a bit of both, that’s great! Throughout your career, there may be instances where you’ll need to turn down projects or positions due to ethics. Even if you’re developing something that could be used against your values, it’s best to move on. As an ethical hacker, it’s natural to be tempted to veer off-course, but always remember to prioritize ethics. Once you start working, utilize your technical knowledge and security skills to attempt to breach the network security of the company or organization that employed you and submit your discoveries. The company will require a detailed breakdown of your findings and suggestions for improving network security.
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