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Ethical Hacking Example: 5 Times Ethical Hackers Saved the Day

19th Jan, 2024
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    Ethical Hacking Example: 5 Times Ethical Hackers Saved the Day

    Cyber security risks, data breaches, money theft, and cyberattacks are in the news daily. According to Statista, 76% of internet users in India were victims of cybercrime between November 2021. The threat of cybercrime in India has seen a continual rise between 2012 and 2020, and as a result, the demand for qualified Ethical Hackers and other Cybersecurity experts has skyrocketed.

    But what is ethical hacking? This article defines ethical hacking, discusses ethical hacking examples, and highlights how to protect yourself from cyberattacks.

    What is Hacking?

    Hacking is getting unauthorised access to a person's computer, mobile phone, or other electronic devices to steal confidential information. A hacker is an individual who does the hack.

    Hackers are knowledgeable about computer security mechanisms and are proficient computer programmers. While some hackers hack to access sensitive information or modify data, others hack to gain access to steal money. 

    Hackers may utilise software available on the internet to access a specific computer or mobile device. Lotteries, free games, and other types of software are common attack vectors.

    What is Ethical Hacking and How does It Work?

    Ethical hacking is defined as any hacking permitted by the target system's owner. It may also refer to taking proactive security measures to protect systems from malevolent hackers.

    In other words, when we think of ethical hacking, we think of ethical hacking examples motivated by ethical or moral ideals. This kind of hacking has no malicious purpose and is also called white hat hacking.

    Ethical hacking involves finding system vulnerabilities and potential sources of data breaches by circumventing or cracking the system’s security protections. It is considered ethical only if regional or organisational cyber laws/rules are obeyed.

    To summarise, an ethical hacker compromises the target system before a malicious hacker can. It enables the organisation's security staff to deploy a security patch to the system, securing it from attacks. 

    How does It Work? 

    Penetration testing is an ethical hacking example that entails breaking into application systems, APIs, front-end/back-end servers, operating systems, and other systems.

    Penetration testing is one of the best-known white hat hacking examples, which involves attempts to break into the system. Penetration testing is of many types, including Internal/External Infrastructure Penetration Testing, Wireless Penetration Testing, and Web Application Testing

    Penetration testers spend most of their time typing commands (which are the “ethical hacking sample code”) into a Linux terminal. 

    Common vulnerabilities include misconfigured firewalls and vulnerabilities in third-party programs, which may cost a company millions of dollars in financial and brand harm.

    The penetration testing results are documented in what is called a penetration testing report. Take a look at an ethical hacking report example here.

    If you’re looking to get your hands on the best Ethical Hacking certification, KnowledgeHut’s courses are the place to start. One can easily get hired in the cybersecurity industry after completing the course and passing the certification exam. 

    Examples of Ethical Hacking

    There is no shortage of examples of ethical hacking incidents:


    The (in)famous hacking collective Cult of the Dead Cow originated the term "Hacktivism" in the early 1990s. As the name implies, hacktivism is a kind of collaborative political or social engagement manifested through computer and network hacking.

    Hacktivism emerged as a subculture of hacking, gaming, and web groups, allowing technically-inclined people to leverage the web's connectedness and anonymity to band together and work toward common goals.

    As a result, hacktivists were primarily young people who loved surfing the internet, reading forums and newsgroups, sharing material on illicit download sites, conversing in "private rooms," and conspiring with like-minded net drifters. 

    They could use any identity they wanted on the internet. They use made-up personas to go on collaborative excursions ranging from exploring pornographic materials to exchanging pirated versions of desired software, pranks, and occasionally crimes - all intended against “the establishment.” 

    Anonymous, Lulzsec, and the Syrian Electronic Army are some of the most well-known hacktivist organisations that have gained public notice.

    Identity Theft

    Identity theft, often known as identity fraud, is a common crime nowadays. It is defined as using another person's identity to undertake a practice for personal gain.

    This theft is conducted in various ways, including obtaining personal information such as transactional information from an individual to conduct business.

    For example:

    Thieves employ several methods to acquire information about customers' credit cards from corporate databases or the customer’s computers, and once they have it, they may max out the card.

    If one does not notify the authorities right away, identity theft can cause a person trouble. Hackers can get a credit card in the victim's name and use it to cover bogus bills using these false credentials. 

    Malware Hacking

    Malware (short for malicious software) is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous threats online, having been employed in some of the world's worst cyberattacks, such as the WannaCry incident in 2017, which affected over 200,000 people in 150 countries.

    Malware is usually placed on their machine when a person clicks on a bad link, downloads a malicious attachment, or launches a rogue software programme.

    Attackers can use the virus to spy on online activity, steal personal and financial information, or exploit the device to infiltrate other systems once it has been installed. 

    This type of attack has proven to be quite profitable, and criminals are increasingly combining old and new variations to maximise harm.

    There are many distinct varieties of malware, some of which are more dangerous than others. Every day, 230,000 new malware samples are created, each with its own unique method of infecting and harming systems. The following are the most frequent forms of malware: 


    A Trojan horse is a sort of malware that masquerades as genuine software but has a destructive intent. A Trojan may pose as a free update, game, or anti-virus tool in order to deceive the user into installing it.

    Once installed, the Trojan operates silently in the background to steal sensitive information, install a backdoor, or carry out other malicious acts. 


    It is a dangerous program that, once active, copies itself from folder to folder, adding its own code. A virus may spread quickly and infect a computer to steal personal and financial information, spread spam, or shut down the machine. 


    It is similar to a virus in that it copies itself within a system, but it does not propagate to other programmes like a virus does. The worm discreetly goes to work and infects the system without the user's awareness after it is installed.

    Worms can reproduce hundreds of times, consuming system resources and causing device damage. 


    Adware is a sort of malware that, once installed, displays advertising on the victim's computer without their knowledge.

    Adware doesn't steal data like other types of malware, but it can be aggravating since the user is forced to see advertisements they don't want to see. The advertisements range from simple banner advertising to intrusive pop-up windows that cannot be closed. 

    Operation Buckshot Yankee Analysis

    The United States' reaction to the terrorist events of 2008 was Operation Buckshot Yankee. Unlike the terrorist assault of 9/11, the 2008 strike was a cyber-attack that targeted unclassified and classified computer networks within the US government.

    "It was a network administrator's greatest dread," said Deputy Secretary of Defence William J. Lynn III (2010), "a rogue software functioning silently, prepared to throw operational plans into the hands of an unknown foe."

    Agent.btz was a computer worm, a sort of malicious software (Malware) that replicates itself without human intervention that attacked the government's networks. 

    One should do some training or reading to ensure your privacy is protected. By recognising the characteristics of malware, you may prevent it from damaging your computer and networks. Email is the simplest way for users to introduce malware to their network.

    Make sure you understand how to tell whether an email has malware. Furthermore, do not open attachments in emails unless you are sure who sent the email and that the attachment is secure. 

    Malware can be included in attachments and automatically forward emails without the account owner's knowledge. Don't open an attachment if you weren't expecting it!

    Keep your operating system and anti-virus software up to date and adopt healthy email habits. It is essential to have an antivirus programme that examines your emails.

    In light of the 2008 assault, never insert any USB storage device onto your computer unless you know exactly what it contains. 

    Pisciotta V. Old National Bancorp Case Analysis

    In Pisciotta v. Old National Bancorp, the Seventh Circuit compared the harm caused by a data breach to some courts' "greater risk" approach of injury in toxic tort cases.

    In Pisciotta, a hacker gained unauthorised access to a financial services provider's computer system, revealing the plaintiffs' personal information but for causing no economic damage or identity theft.

    In determining whether there had been an injury-in-fact, the court compared the case to environmental exposure tort cases, in which plaintiffs were granted standing if they could show that the act "increase[d] the risk of future harm that the plaintiff would have otherwise faced, absent the defendant's actions." 

    Because the loss of trust argument might apply to those who haven't been affected by the data leak, this line of reasoning could lead to justiciability issues.

    For example, when internet shopping technology initially became available, many consumers were concerned that their transactions might be compromised and avoided purchasing online.

    The dread of new technology or observation of others' compromised personal information might lead to self-censorship or sentiments of worry over information control.

    However, even if courts were to embrace such a broad definition of injury, the underlying cause of action may limit claims from parties whose data had not been compromised. 

    GPAA Ransomware Research Paper

    GPAA Ransomware was detected by Michael Gillespie (malware security researcher). GPAA stands for "Global Poverty Aid Agency." The ransomware promises to assist the impoverished and seeks to gather 1000 Bitcoins, one Bitcoin for each kid.

    However, that is a mere ruse to deceive users and generate money. In reality, GPAA Ransomware is a dangerous file-encrypting malware. It employs the "[16 random characters].cerber6" pattern for encryption. It's worth noting that GPAA Ransomware is connected to the Cerber ransomware. 

    The ransom note shows the contact information and the Bitcoin address details that the user needs to pay. It also includes a countdown timer to make you feel more threatened and act quickly to pay the ransom.

    Victims see a warning notice that the data will be destroyed if the ransom is not paid in a certain amount of time. GPAA Ransomware convinces PC users that there is no other option to unlock their files but pay the ransomware.

    We strongly advise against paying such cyber thieves since they are untrustworthy. Once you pay them, they might demand more and threaten to send you lower-level viruses since your data and system are controlled by GPAA Ransomware.

    NSA Pros And Cons


    Tracking and monitoring suspected criminals and terrorists' communications might help prevent crimes and save lives. Suspects can be investigated and their whereabouts discovered by police and intelligence organisations. 

    Terrorists, criminals, and wrongdoers will find planning and executing their attacks and misdeeds more challenging. Many may change their ways due to fear of getting caught. 

    The government is developing expertise that might be critical regarding future security. Many science-fiction publications predict that the internet and information control will become a new battlefield in future battles. 


    The government's growing ability to spy on our private lives may contribute to a world where there is no place for privacy and governments control even individuals' brains. Governments might become totalitarian "Big Brothers," like in George Orwell's dystopian world of 1984. 

    Personal privacy loss may have a significant psychological impact on people and a feeling of being controlled by the government or others. Furthermore, these policies are incompatible with individual rights and liberties and cannot be deemed democratic.

    Because many of these programs are secret, individuals cannot know if governments are protecting their rights or whether the information is being utilised for specific security goals. 

    The authorities and even private entities might utilise the data obtained by large internet monitoring systems. Information obtained about ordinary people, businesses, and politicians might be used against them to gain an unfair advantage.

    Hackers might get access to the government’s databases and sell the data to competing countries, businesses, or crime organisations. 

    International Espionage

    Cyber espionage is a type of cyber assault in which a corporation or government body takes confidential, sensitive data or intellectual property to acquire a competitive edge. 

    China, Russia, North Korea, and the United States are frequently mentioned in cyber-espionage headlines, both as attackers and victims. However, the Government Code and Cipher School (GCCS) in the United Kingdom believe 34 countries have substantial, well-funded cyber espionage teams. 

    Military and intelligence agency hacking clusters comprise state-based threat actor teams of computer programmers, engineers, and scientists. They have enormous financial support and limitless technological resources, allowing them to expand their approaches swiftly. 

    Corporate Espionage

    When one hears the word spy, one usually doesn't think of corporate espionage. It's not always Sean Connery's suave demeanour or Tom Cruise suspended from a cable; sometimes, it's just a man in a bathrobe sitting in front of a computer with a touchtone phone next to it.

    Google discovered that a sovereign state might "supposedly" use espionage to suppress dissenters. 

    Corporate espionage can operate out of legitimate offices and is frequently employed by businesses to spy on their competitors. A corporate spy may attack a firm and gather information to sell to potential buyers if the company is slow.

    Some corporate spies use hackers to do high-tech nab and grab operations. Still, most corporations have experienced system administrators (some of them are ex-hackers) who can hunt down digital spies. 

    Someone contacting companies and charming their way into accessing sensitive information is the new-age form of spying.

    Ego Hacking

    Sprucing up a weak ego is a motivator that combines various psychological provocations, including insecurity, money difficulties (and gains), and emotional upheaval, into one potent punch for individuals involved in a range of cybercrime, but notably social engineering assaults.

    Cybercriminals with a weak ego and a lack of technical skill to drop malware on their chosen targets have more visibility and interaction with their victims.

    They justify their actions by convincing themselves that they're on the defensive, attacking "back" at those who put them in this position in the first place. 

    How to Protect Yourself from Hackers 

    Use a Feature-Rich Antivirus

    A computer without an antivirus is equivalent to a house with an open door. Intruders and criminals will flock to your home if your door is left open and unlocked.

    In the same way, an unprotected computer will invite all kinds of attacks and infections into the system. An antivirus will protect your computer by acting as a locked door with a security guard, fending off all hazardous entering viruses. 

    Benefits of Using an Antivirus 

    Hackers install malware on the victim's PC without the victim's awareness with the goal of stealing information. Hackers often achieve this by sending victims infected emails. The hacker may then access the information and applications they want. 

    Antivirus software primarily serves as a preventative measure. It identifies any possible infection and strives to eliminate it. Keep in mind that much of this is done before the virus causes any damage to the system.

    As a result, most viruses are stopped long before they can cause any damage to your computer. An antivirus program may fight many infections in a single day without your knowledge. Avast and Norton are two of the most popular antivirus programs currently available. 

    Create Strong, Complex Passwords

    Here are some essential password creation tips that everyone should know: 

    1.  Use passwords that are at least 15 characters long, preferably longer. 
    2. Make use of a variety of characters. The more letters (upper- and lower-case), numbers, and symbols you include, the stronger your password becomes, making it harder to crack it using brute force.
    3. Avoid making frequent mistakes. Password crackers are well-versed in standard replacements. The brute force attacker will crack it regardless of whether you use DOORBELL or D00R8377. These days, random character placement is far more effective than conventional leetspeak- replacements.

    Practice Safe Web Browsing

    The majority of individuals access the internet via their phone, usually using a mobile web browser. When you browse the web from your phone, it sends and receives private information.

    Lack of proper browser protection typically leaves users vulnerable to attacks. Phishing assaults and browser hijacking are two common attacks that hackers tend to pull off without much hassle. 

    Looking to boost your career? Join our ITIL 4 certification course and gain the edge you need. Upgrade your skills today!

    Stay Vigilant Against Phishing & Social Engineering

    It's easy to become overwhelmed by an avalanche of email messages; take your time reading emails and slow down enough to thoroughly study the substance of each communication.

    Setting email review periods during the day may be beneficial to devote your complete attention to evaluating messages. 

    Avoid clicking on or opening attachments. Never open an extension or click on a link in an email if you don't know who sent it to you or what the message's context is.

    Look for other ways to get the information you need, such as going to the official site of a link sent to you and logging in from there. Any legitimate information you require about that instrument will be accessible through your account. 

    Here are the other things you can do: 

    Turn off Anything That You Don't Need 

    Hackers can easily access information, location, or connection via specific functions on their phones. So, instead of leaving your GPS, wifi connection, or geo-tracking on all the time, only use them when you need them. 

    Pick Your Apps Carefully 

    Only download software from reputed sites with a strong track record. Ensure that the software and apps are up to date and eliminate any outdated programs you aren't using. 

    Use Encryption, a Password, or a Lock Code 

    Make your passwords at least 15 characters long, with a combination of upper and lower case digits and other symbols, and never use the password auto-complete tool. 


    New viruses and attack vectors emerge virtually every day. Keep yourself informed on the latest scams and how to protect yourself best. One of the best ways of learning about ethical hacking in detail is to take IT security courses.

    Taking the KnowledgeHut best Ethical Hacking certification will give you a boost in your career as well.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1Why do we need ethical hacking?

    To prevent hostile attackers from stealing and misusing data and discovering vulnerabilities from an attacker's perspective so that issues can be patched. 

    2What are examples of ethical but illegal hacking?

    To acquire critical user data, modify or delete data, or disrupt its usual operations. 

    3Who is the No 1 ethical hacker in the world?

    Kevin Mitnick is the leading expert in hacking, social engineering, and security awareness training in the world. His name is even on the world's most popular computer-based end-user security awareness training package. 

    4What is a good example of a paper on ethical hacking?

    GPAA Ransomware Research Paper. 


    Vitesh Sharma

    Blog Author

    Vitesh Sharma, a distinguished Cyber Security expert with a wealth of experience exceeding 6 years in the Telecom & Networking Industry. Armed with a CCIE and CISA certification, Vitesh possesses expertise in MPLS, Wi-Fi Planning & Designing, High Availability, QoS, IPv6, and IP KPIs. With a robust background in evaluating and optimizing MPLS security for telecom giants, Vitesh has been instrumental in driving large service provider engagements, emphasizing planning, designing, assessment, and optimization. His experience spans prestigious organizations like Barclays, Protiviti, EY, PwC India, Tata Consultancy Services, and more. With a unique blend of technical prowess and management acumen, Vitesh remains at the forefront of ensuring secure and efficient networking solutions, solidifying his position as a notable figure in the cybersecurity landscape.

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