Are you interested in a job that secures computers? Wonder what it would be like to hack for a living? If you are interested in an ethical hacking job, then a program in cyber security may be the right career path for you. During this program you will learn about the fundamentals of IT, networking, cybersecurity, Linux for cybersecurity, incident response and digital forensics, network defense and countermeasures, and of course ethical hacking. If you like to solve puzzles and have the meticulous nature to scan thousands of lines of code, then a job in ethical hacking is waiting for you. So, what is ethical hacking?
What is an Ethical Hacker?
An ethical hacker identifies exploits and vulnerabilities before a malicious actor can implement a cyberattack. Whether it is a breach to the network, SQL injection, or one of the many ways a criminal can exploit your company’s network and steal sensitive data and information, an ethical hacker has permission to identify vulnerabilities before the network is perpetrated by bad actors. It is the ethical hacker’s job to prevent the breach from happening, correct any vulnerabilities and protect against future breaches with protocols and employee guidelines.
How Long is a Vocational Program in Cyber Security?
Vocational programs in cyber security can be completed in just over a year (63 weeks, attending full time). If you have a passion for computers, then becoming an ethical hacker may be the right career path for you. Classes are even offered during the evening for a more flexible schedule.
What is the Difference Between an Ethical and Black Hat Hacker?
Both an ethical and black hat hacker do similar tasks, but the ethical hacker is contracted to identify, diagnosis and close network vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers are paid to identify vulnerabilities so the client can stop a black hat hacker from exploiting them. A malicious actor wants to breach the network, take sensitive data, or cause loss to the organization or individual by penetrating network systems and exploiting vulnerabilities. Whether it is a file-based exploit, DDoS attack or one of many other network breach techniques, the black hat hacker is not contracted to identify and exploit network vulnerabilities.
An ethical hacker has an objective to stop a black hat hacker from stealing information, sensitive data or accessing restricted areas of the network. Ethical hackers learn how to identify threats and vulnerabilities in cyber security classes. They work to stay ahead of black hat hackers to stop them from deploying worms or ransomware, which can steal money or access sensitive data.
Black Hat Hacking
The objective of black hat hacking is to steal valuable information, customer data, software, corrupt data, shut down networks and/or access restricted networks. There are even names for different types of unethical hackers, like phreaker, carder or script kiddies. Each with an illegal intent and an objective to exploit vulnerabilities.
Where Can You Learn to Become an Ethical Hacker?
The easiest way to scale your ethical hacking knowledge is to enroll in a program at a trade school. These programs are taught by cyber security professionals and apply practical learnings to real-world, disaster-simulated scenarios. So, what are some of the exploits and vulnerabilities that you will learn about during a cyber security program at a trade school?
Cyber Security Exploits & Vulnerabilities
Black hat hackers are trying to stay ahead of the game and use the following exploits to identify vulnerabilities in a network or website. As an ethical hacker, it is up to you to identify these exploits and vulnerabilities before the bad actors do, close them up and set protocols to stop future hacks from happening. Some of these exploits and vulnerabilities include:
Computer viruses consist of code that can copy itself and infect a computer. This code will either corrupt the system or destroy data. The virus will travel from host to host by replicating itself with the help of a file or document. This virus attaches itself to a legitimate program or document that supports macros to execute its code. This computer virus may lay dormant until the optimal conditions for the computer to execute its code. Once the virus infects your computer, it can infect any other computer in the network. Some of the reasons that black hat hackers deploy viruses is to steal passwords, log user keystrokes, corrupt files, and spam email contacts.
A type of malware that spreads from computer to computer. The worm will replicate itself without user assistance and doesn’t need to attach itself to a software program to cause damage. Some black hat hackers will attach computer worms to spam emails, instant messages, or links on malicious websites. Worms can modify or delete files or inject malicious software onto the user’s computer.
Malicious code that looks legitimate but can take control of your computer. It is designed by a black hat hacker to damage, disrupt or steal information. If you receive an email from a contact and click on it, because it looks like a real attachment, you may be opening malware that is going to damage your computer.
Known as a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack, this attack’s goal is to flood a server with Internet traffic using the Internet-of-Things (IoT) to prevent the access of a service or website. Whether a hacktivist wants to shut down an organization’s server or exploit a cyber weakness, the hacker uses zombie computers to coordinate a simultaneous attack to shut down a website.
During this attack, a black hat hacker will disable a network, block use of files or copy files for blackmail using ransomware. After the hacker has disabled the network, they will request ransom to return the encrypted network or files back to their unencrypted state.
This is an attack using a code injection to destroy a database by placing malicious code in SQL statements in a web page’s input. An SQL injection will ask a user for input like username/password to run the SQL statement on the user’s database. It is important for cyber security specialist to educate employees to only respond or click on links they trust.
File Based Exploits
The use of .docx or .pdf files to entice users to open them. These malicious files include embedded malicious code. Once the file is opened it executes the code. Once open it can release any sort of exploit like virus, ransomware, or trojan.
The execution of arbitrary commands on a host operating system. The black hat hacker can exploit the user’s computer by finding application vulnerabilities like insufficient input validation. The vulnerable application will pass commands to the system to inject the malicious code.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack
A type of injection using malicious scripts into a trusted website. The black hat hacker will use a web application to send the malicious code with a browser side script or other trusted application script to the user’s computer. The malicious code can access cookies, session tokens and other sensitive information about the browser. It can even rewrite the content on the page using scripts.
This happens when an unsuspecting user downloads malicious content from the attacker. Companies must monitor Internet access and deny websites with malicious intent, or the cyber security specialist should train employees on proper protocol for downloading from the Internet.
So, you want to get a job as an ethical hacker? That is noble work. So, an easy way to learn about cyber security is to take a program from a trade school. At Peloton College, we train you on the many aspects of cybersecurity from IT fundamentals all the way to ethical hacking and penetration testing. We also prepare you to take IT certifications to prove your proficiency to employers. If you are ready to thwart hackers and want to keep an organization’s networks and computers secure, then becoming a cyber security specialist may be the right career path for you. Peloton College is here to help.
Want to Learn More?
The Associates of Applied Science in Cybersecurity training program is designed to teach you the skills for entry-level jobs in the Cybersecurity industry. The Cybersecurity training program prepares and supports you in obtaining several certifications in support of your cybersecurity career including CompTIA’s A+, Network+, Security+, Linux+, Pentest+, & CySA+.
The mission of Peloton College is to be the premier provider of hands-on training and education by providing students and graduates with the necessary skills to secure occupational careers. Contact us today to learn more.