The Five Phases of Ethical Hacking

Security breaches are a challenge that organizations of every size are facing. Data breaches cause so much loss to organizations that they may take years to recover from them. 

With people getting more and more dependent on the Internet for their regular tasks, hackers get more opportunities to attack the system and affect sensitive data. You might have read the messages with a warning, ‘your messages are being read’ or ‘this page seems suspicious’. 

Data breaches have become so common that we need to be aware of them at every step before performing activities over the Internet.

According to a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers titled ‘The Global State of Information Security Survey 2018 states that business leaders are worried about the security risks related to emerging technologies like robotics and automated systems.

Cybersecurity is not just an IT issue, it also affects the brand equity of an organization. Companies are now recognizing the potential losses caused by cyberattacks and are looking for strong solutions- one of which is Ethical Hacking.

Eventually, there is a huge increase in the demand for ethical hackers in almost every organization. Professionals are looking at this as an opportunity for making a career in this domain which is ever-evolving and full of excitement. 

Have a look at some stats, as per EC-Council:

  • A hacker attack happens every 39 seconds that affects 1 in 3 Americans.
  • In 2020, the average cost of a data breach exceeded USD 150
  • Nearly 38% of global organizations state that they are prepared for a cyberattack.
  • By 2021, the number of cybersecurity jobs that will remain unfulfilled will reach 3.5 million.

The stats above show that cybersecurity professionals are in demand everywhere. As companies are going digital and employing automation wherever possible, they need to safeguard their data from cyberattacks more prominently. This is why this domain opens up a door for opportunities for you as an ethical hacker. You can go with an ethical hacking course in Delhi to get into this domain that enables you to earn high salaries and make you a valuable asset to your company.

Let us look at what ethical hacking means and what are the five phases of ethical hacking.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is the practice of penetrating into systems security to identify potential threats and data breaches in a network, in a legitimate manner.

You can find Certified Ethical Hackers in every organization, some of them being the finest and largest across the industries including finance, retail, healthcare, banking, media and entertainment, etc. 

According to the CEO of EC-Council, Jay Bavisi, 

‘Government agencies and business organizations today are in constant need of ethical hackers to combat the growing threat to IT security. A lot of government agencies, professionals, and corporations now understand that if you want to protect a system, you cannot do it by just locking your doors.

So, they need ethical hackers to protect their systems. Ethical hackers think like malicious ones and intrude on the security system of their company to check for loopholes and weaknesses, and fix them, all of them with permission.  

The Five Phases of Ethical Hacking

As mentioned above, ethical hackers think and act like malicious ones, the phases that are included in the ethical hacking process are also the same that are employed by hackers or cybercriminals. In simple terms, a cybercriminal uses this approach to attack the network, while an ethical hacker utilizes it to protect the network. 

  • Reconnaissance

As the literal meaning of reconnaissance says, ‘preliminary surveying or research, this is a phase of preparation where the ethical hacker collects information about the target prior to launching an attack and is completed in steps before exploiting system vulnerabilities. Dumpster diving is one of the initial phases of reconnaissance, where a hacker finds important information like old passwords, account numbers, etc. then comes footprinting that involves collecting the security posture, minimizes the focus area, recognizes vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the target system, and draws a network map to know how to break into the network infrastructure.

Footprinting provides crucial information such as system names, TCP and UDP services, domain names, and passwords. Footprinting can be done in other ways too, which may include impersonating a website by mirroring it, utilizing search portals to collect information about the systems, or even using the sensitive information of current employees for impersonation.

  • Scanning

The second phase, scanning, where a hacker identifies a quicker way of gaining access to the network and get the information. There are typically three methods of scanning, namely, pre-attack, sniffing/port scanning, and information extraction. A specific set of weaknesses are identified in each of these phases that are used by hackers to exploit the system’s vulnerabilities. The first phase, pre-attack is where a hacker scans the system for getting specific information based on the data collected during reconnaissance.

The second phase of port scanning or sniffing is where scanning involves the use of port scanners, dialers, vulnerability scanners, and other data-gathering equipment. The third phase of information extraction is when an attacker gathers information about ports, live systems, and Operating System details to launch an attack.

  • Gain Access

In this phase, a hacker gains access to the network, systems, applications, and escalates their user privileges to monitor the systems connected to them. 

  • Maintain Access

In this phase, a hacker secures access to the organization’s Trojans and Rootkits and utilizes them to launch more attacks on the network.

  • Cover Tracks

After gaining access, a hacker covers their tracks to get away from security personnel. This is done by clearing the cookies and caches, tampering with the log files, and terminating the open ports. This phase is crucial because it clears the system information and makes the breach harder to track. 

Conclusion 

The five phases of ethical hacking mentioned above are the same as used by cybercriminals. When you are done with these phases you can significantly protect the system of your organization. 

If you wish to make a rewarding career in cybersecurity, you can go with a Certified Ethical hacking course. There are many online training courses to help you earn the certification. 

Enroll now!

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