What is The Salary of Ethical Hacker?

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Last updated on
04th May, 2022
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04th Nov, 2020
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What is The Salary of Ethical Hacker?

In this article, you will learn who is an ethical hacker and what are their responsibilities. You will also learn more about the demand for an ethical hacker and salary trends around the globe.

Who is an Ethical hacker?   

Also called a white-hat hacker, an ethical hacker is a skilled security professional. He or she has good technical knowledge and practical skills to identify and exploit vulnerabilities (bugs) in the target system. You might wonder at the use of the term ‘ethical’; what ethics could there possibly be in hacking?

Ethical hackers work with the permission of the owners of the systems. If you are working as an ethical hacker in an organization, you are required to find vulnerabilities in their network and systems; so that they can take precautions to safeguard them before they are found by real hackers who have a malicious intent.

Ethical hacking is not illegal, and it is one of the demanding jobs available in the IT industry. Businesses and organizations across the world hire ethical hackers to safeguard their networks, applications, and other computer systems in order to improve their cyber security and prevent data theft and fraud. There are numerous companies that hire ethical hackers for penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.

You need to remember that you can hack only whatever you are permitted to do and should not investigate whatever you do not have permissions for. This is the fundamental difference between a malicious hacker (or black-hat hacker) and you.

While we are learning about who is an ethical hacker, you need to know about different kinds of hacker and their motives. Hackers fall into these categories:  

  • White hat hackers  
  • Black hat hackers  
  • Grey hat hackers

These names are taken from old Spaghetti Westerns; where the bad guys wear black cowboy hats and are easily distinguished from the good guys who wear white hats!

Ethical Hacker Salary

White Hat Hackers

White Hat hackers are also known as Ethical Hackers. Their intent is not to harm or exploit a computer or network system, but to find the vulnerabilities and give the product owners or network admin the right measures to mitigate any issues found during the penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.

Black Hat Hackers

Black Hat hackers work with a malicious intent, and break into computer systems to gain unauthorized access to a network system or software. They work with the goal of damaging operations or stealing sensitive information. 

Black Hat hacking activities are always illegal because of their motive to break into systems without the system owner’s permission. They could steal highly sensitive private or corporate data which may result in violating privacy, damaging the system, or stopping the network communication.

Grey Hat Hackers

Grey hat hackers carry out both black hat and white hat hacking, acting in accordance with the opportunities they get. If they get an opportunity for ethical hacking, they will work as an ethical hacker and if they get an opportunity to work as a malicious hacker for somebody, they will hack and exploit a security weakness in a computer system or network without the owner’s permission or knowledge.

Miscellaneous Hackers

While the above are the well-known and commonly accepted categories of hackers, there are some more, lesser-known categories:

Blue Hat Hackers

Blue hat hackers are those who work with product development teams to test for security vulnerabilities before a product is going to be launched. They use hacking techniques to find vulnerabilities which could possibly be exploited; and inform the team about the bugs in the product so that it can be fixed before its launch. The term Blue Hat is used to indicate a series of security briefing events. 

Red Hat Hackers

Red hat hackers are similar to gray hat hackers who do both black hat and white hat hacking. The difference is that red hat hackers usually work on high level, top secret requirements, such as hacking government organizations, high-secret information, and usually anything that’s related to the category of sensitive information.   

Elite Hackers

Elite hackers are those who are considered to be the most skilled in the hacking community. The exploits that they have discovered are widely circulated and followed by others.   

Hacktivist

A hacktivist is a hacker who uses hacking methods to further political and social change in the community. They work for a cause rather than to steal information for financial gain. They use hacking to announce a social, political or religious message, and may use their skills for defacement of web sites or public denial-of-service attacks.   

Script Kiddie

A script kiddie is a hacker who uses the tools and techniques developed by other hackers but does not have adequate expertise and knowledge about the usage of tools and the consequences of hacking activities. In other words, they break into computer systems by using automated tools developed by others, with little understanding of the underlying concepts. They are considered novices (or ‘kiddies') in the hacking world. 

What are the responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker?

An ethical hacker is usually a part of a security team that helps in finding and mitigating vulnerabilities or bugs. They provide support that safeguards and mitigates risks to the network or application that they need to protect. They also continually monitor the network for any irregularities. Ethical hackers must have out-of-the-box thinking capabilities to go beyond what is considered normal ways of working and should keep themselves updated with advancements in tools and technologies. The job could come with high levels of stress, and ethical hackers must be prepared to work quickly and effectively to keep the systems they are always protected safe and secure.

Certified Ethical Hacker Responsibilities:   

  1. Discuss with clients about the security system they use currently.
  2. Conduct research on recent vulnerabilities in the computer system, network structure, and software and suggest the ways of mitigating any vulnerabilities.
  3. Conduct penetration tests on the network and application.   
  4. Identify and record vulnerabilities and security breaches.   
  5. Review security posture of the network.   
  6. Advise the organization on the latest security measures.   
  7. Create ethical hacking or penetration test reports for the client.   
  8. Retest the new security features that have been implemented to verify the security mechanism.   
  9. Stay on top of industry advancements and advise on upgrades whenever needed.   

Management cadre professionals and organizational decision makers are typically not tech or security experts. With breaches in cyber security becoming a growing treat to organizations everywhere, ethical hackers who have the right experience and skills are highly sought after across industries. As tech experts in systems, networks and applications, ethical hackers are at the frontline, keeping organizational data and systems safe from cyber-attacks.
In the UK, JOBLIFT conducted a study and found that the demand for Ethical hackers has increased by 3X the rate of supply.

There are several other reasons as to why ethical hackers are in demand:

  1. Widespread adoption of cloud computing has introduced security risks such as ransomware, identity theft, malware infections and data breaches.
  2. Cyber threats are growing increasingly sophisticated, which means that organizations must keep themselves safe by increasing the budget for cybersecurity. This has raised the demand for reputed cyber specialists and ethical hackers.
  3. With the rampant increase in the numbers of internet users, the web has become a prime target for the malicious activities of black hat hackers.

This chart indicates the increase in the number of internet users across the world.

WORLD INTERNET USAGE AND POPULATION STATISTICS 2020 Year-Q2 Estimates
World RegionsPopulation (2020 Est.)Population % of WorldInternet Users 30 June 2020Penetration Rate (% Pop.)Growth 2000-2020Internet World %
Africa1,340,598,44717.2 %566,138,77242.2 %12,441 %11.7 %
Asia4,294,516,65955.1 %2,525,033,87458.8 %2,109 %52.2 %
Europe834,995,19710.7 %727,848,54787.2 %592 %15.1 %
Latin America / Caribbean654,287,2328.4 %467,817,33271.5 %2,489 %9.7 %
Middle East260,991,6903.3 %184,856,81370.8 %5,527 %3.8 %
North America368,869,6474.7 %332,908,86890.3 %208 %6.9 %
Oceania / Australia42,690,8380.5 %28,917,60067.7 %279 %0.6 %
WORLD TOTAL 7,796,949,710100.0 %4,833,521,80662.0 %1,239 %100.0 %
  • Salary trends for Ethical hackers around the globe

1. Ethical Hacker salary in the USA

Cyber Security Analyst$85k
Information Security Analyst$78k
Cyber Security Engineer$105k

2. Ethical Hacker salary in INDIA

According to the study conducted by CISO: 

  • The average annual salary of ethical hackers is Rs 570,000. 
  • Chief Information Security Officers salary ranges from Rs 12 lakh to Rs 80 lakh per year, with a median salary of Rs 23.7 lakh
  • The highest number of security professionals are in Bengaluru with 20.5 per cent.
  • The second number of security professionals are from National Capital Region with 20.3 per cent.
  • Telecom service providers pay the highest salaries for cybersecurity professionals with an average annual salary of Rs 11.75 lakh.
  • The second highest paying sector is banking and financial services with an average of Rs 10.52 lakh.
  • NCR and Bangalore are two cities which offer the highest average salaries for ethical hackers.

CEH — The Way Forward

As you can see, ethical hackers are highly respected professionals who can seek rewarding positions in top firms across industries. If you want to begin your career in ethical hacking, getting a certification like EC-Council's Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to get ahead. 

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Anand V

Blog Author

Anand V is an independent consultant with more than 23 plus years of experience. He is currently working in areas of Artificial  Intelligence ,Cybersecurity, Blockchain and IoT.