On hearing the word ‘hacking’, people think of cybercriminals stealing credit card information, business data or personal details and having it held for ransom or having it sold to other cybercriminals.
‘Hacking’ is a term that has always been received with fear, and rightly so. The profession is infamous for disrupting business functions through threats to information security, at the very least. By definition, hacking is “an unauthorized intrusion into a computer or network”.
But, what is “ethical hacking”? Little is known about ethical hacking outside of millennials, who have made this much-sought-after career option their bread and butter. Aside from the aura of virtuousness associated with it, ethical hacking is esoteric.
In the simplest language, ethical hackers shadow the protocols of hackers in order to identify the procedures they use to cause intrusions. An ethical hacker is, thus, simply a hacker with a halo, popularly known as a “white hat”.
The white hats of the industry have helped organizations guard themselves against the onslaught of many attacks. Three of the most salient applications of ethical hacking are:
1. System Hardening
At the core of any host’s technical infrastructure, there could lie many flaws. These loopholes will then serve as the breeding ground for malware attacks. Ethical hacking can help avert this by identifying vulnerabilities early, so their nemeses do not exploit the host’s systems.
2. Social Engineering
Hackers can manipulate netizens to give away passwords to their social media profiles or online banking accounts. For an individual, this could offer hackers access to contact lists and cause serious financial loses. For businesses, the consequences are even more drastic. Hiring a white hat can help retrace the hacker’s steps to the strike, so social engineering can be righteously used to nip disastrous repercussions in the bud.
3. Securing Wireless Networks
Several malicious viruses are generally transmitted through wireless networks, making much of today’s business operations prone to cyber-attacks. An ethical hacker can intercept a potential ambush before it comes to play, by strengthening the framework of wireless networks.
4. Keyboard Capturing
As secure as an organization’s devices could be, they are still susceptible to hacking. Through keystroke logging, also known as “keyboard capturing” hackers can monitor an individual’s typing patterns on the keyboard, without him/ her being aware. This can lead to many perils such as the hackers gaining access to vital data that is being logged into systems.
However, the FBI, as well as many governmental organizations, have used a legal keylogging hardware/ software to spy on the activity of terrorist groups, discerning their passwords and locations. This is another application of ethical hacking.
Be it hoaxed Facebook “friend requests’ or the rabid “dark hotel” scam that stalked corporate travellers, hacking has cost individuals and businesses time, money, a loss of identity and/ or critical information.
To stop a threat before it occurs and prevent your organization’s IT infrastructure from turning into a hacker’s playground, contact us today.