Malicious attackers are constantly finding new ways to penetrate security systems and organizations are often challenged to keep up with these evolving security risks. This has resulted in a growing demand for cybersecurity professionals specializing in ethical hacking to test security systems and stay on top of the latest threats.
If you are interested in becoming an ethical hacker, this guide will help you learn more about the role and how you can start your career quickly.
What Does Being a Hacker Mean?
A hacker is a programmer who gains access to secure computer systems and uses their skills to overcome complex technical obstacles. Hackers often have an advanced understanding of programming language and computer and networking systems. This enables them to exploit cybersecurity systems and even gain unauthorized access to computing systems, networks, and mobile devices.
Difference Between Black Hat and White Hat Cybersecurity Professional
Traditionally, the term “hacker” has had a negative connotation due to the prevalence of black hat hackers. These are individuals who gain unauthorized access to computing systems with malicious intent. For example, they may steal sensitive information to extort individuals and organizations or perform identity theft. They may also try to hurt individuals or organizations by bringing down the system.
However, white hat hackers are cybersecurity professionals who use their skills and knowledge to test network and computing systems and identify security holes. Instead of exploiting these weaknesses, they advise organizations on how to strengthen their security defenses and stay on top of the latest security threats.
Job Outlook and Salary
In the past few years, there has been explosive growth in cybersecurity attacks. In 2021, ransomware attacks grew by 105% worldwide. As a result, the demand for cybersecurity professionals such as ethical hackers is expected to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also predicts that the employment of information security analysts will grow by 33% from 2020 to 2030.
Salary-wise, ethical hackers can expect to earn about $103,308 on average, according to Salary.com. Ethical hacker salaries typically range from $92,155 to $117,858 depending on factors like education, experience, and certifications.
Job Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker
The main role of an ethical hacker is to ensure that an organization’s security systems cannot be penetrated by unauthorized parties. Their job responsibilities typically include the following:
- Researching a company’s network structure and systems
- Conducting penetration tests using the same strategies used by black hat hackers
- Identifying security holes and recording breaches
- Providing suggestions for strengthening existing security systems
- Conducting penetration tests on newly implemented security features
- Providing suggestions on additional or alternate upgrades
Steps on How to Become an Ethical Hacker
The process of becoming an ethical hacker often involves getting the necessary training and certification required in the field. Depending on your educational qualification, you may even need work experience to earn the relevant certifications. Some of the essential steps to becoming an ethical hacker include:
Ethical hackers typically require a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or another related field such as math or engineering. However, you may also be able to become one with a high school diploma as long as you have relevant industry training and certifications.
Skill Development and Training
Next, ethical hackers must develop the necessary skills to effectively fulfill their job responsibilities. They must have advanced knowledge of security software and networking systems. Sound technical knowledge of firewalls, server systems, and routers is also essential. Additionally, they must be able to perform tasks such as session hijacking, parameter manipulation, and cross-site scripting.
To attain these essential skills, ethical hackers have to undergo advanced training that specifically covers domains such as reconnaissance techniques and system hacking phases, to name a few. Their training should also cover different techniques to hack networks and perimeters, web applications, wireless networks, mobile platforms, and other systems.
Once you have attained all the necessary skills to become an ethical hacker, the next step is to get certified. The main certification needed is the Certified Ethical Hacker or CEH certification under the EC-Council. To earn your CEH exam, you will need to pass the relevant certification exam successfully.
Additionally, you must also meet the necessary CEH certification requirements. To do so, you either need to demonstrate two years of relevant work experience or complete a CEH training course under an institution accredited by the EC-Council.
Finding a Job
After earning your CEH, you can start to look for entry-level ethical hacking jobs where a CEH certification is required. The certification may also qualify you for alternative roles such as network security analyst, vulnerability tester, cybersecurity analyst, information security analyst, or security consultant. You can eventually advance in your career by enhancing your skills and building your experience in the field.
Online Certification Training for Ethical Hackers
ed2go offers two training options to prepare for your CEH certification.
Ethical Hacking Dual Certification Boot Camp (CEH and PenTest+)
Powered by Infosec, the Ethical Hacking Dual Certification Boot Camp is an accelerated learning program that prepares you for two certifications–CEH and PenTest+. It features live, instructor-led sessions and lasts for five days, allowing you to start your ethical hacking journey in just one week. This is an excellent option for those who want a quick start in their career and do not have the time for a six-month training course.
Certified Ethical Hacker
If you need more than a week, our Certified Ethical Hacker course is a self-paced online course that takes six months to complete. This course prepares you with the skills and knowledge to sit for your Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Exam Number 312-50.
Start Your Ethical Hacking Career
With good job prospects and salary outlook, becoming an ethical hacker could be the perfect choice for you. Start your career by signing up for a Certified Ethical Hacker course or an Ethical Hacking Boot Camp to prepare for your CEH certification. With the right training course, you could become an ethical hacker as quickly as one week.