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Ethical Hacking vs Hacking [Similarities & Differences]

18th Jan, 2024
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    Ethical Hacking vs Hacking [Similarities & Differences]

    When we hear the phrase hacking, the first thought that comes to mind is malicious computer activity. Is this, however, entirely accurate? Computers and the Internet have altered the global work environment in unimaginable ways. Our data has been shifted from documents and account books to computers as technology has taken over a large part of our lives. While this transition has lowered physical strain on employees, this has also raised the risk of security breaches. Hackers, who generally are perceived as skilled people with bad intentions,  steal data and damage our systems. But it's also true that some 'good' hackers with CEH certification can safeguard our information from the 'bad' ones.  This article will dive deep into the difference between hacking and ethical hacking to better comprehend them.

    What is Hacking?

    Exploiting digital systems and networks through unauthorized access to any account or computer is a typical explanation of hacking. Although hacking is not always a malicious act, it is frequently linked with cyber attackers' unlawful behavior and data breaches. Hacking is the unauthorized use of computers, cellphones, tablets, and networks to harm or destroy systems, obtain information on individuals, steal files and records, or hamper data-related operations. A lone renegade programmer who is extremely competent in coding and changing computer software systems is the typical image of a hacker. However, this limited perspective fails to capture the full complex nature of hacking. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated, employing stealthy attack techniques that go unreported by cybersecurity tools and IT professionals. They're also experts at concocting attack vectors that persuade consumers to open malware programs or click on dangerous websites, revealing sensitive personal information.

    Most Vulnerable Devices 

    • Smartphones and other smart devices are attractive targets for hackers. Android phones,  especially, have a much more accessible and erratic software product, making them more vulnerable to security breaches and manipulation.
    • Webcams incorporated into computers are a popular target for hackers, owing to the ease with which they may be hacked. Hackers generally acquire computer access with rootkit malware's Remote Access Trojan (RAT), which enables them to access users' communications, see their browser activities, take pics, and control their cameras.
    • Among the most typical subjects of cyberattacks is email. It's used to transmit malware, ransomware, and phishing attempts when hackers utilize harmful emails and attachments to lure individuals.
    • An attacker can get access to information delivered and collected via routers and networks that are accessible through them by hacking them. Hackers can also use a router to conduct larger-scale criminal nodes such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assaults, DNS spoofing, and crypto-mining.

    Why Do Hackers Do What They Do? 

    In general, hackers try breaking into systems and servers for any of the reasons listed below:

    • Stealing credit card information or swindling banking systems through hacking are examples of criminal attacks for monetary benefits.
    • Some hackers are motivated to acquire fame and polish their image inside the hacker community by leaving their imprint on websites they vandalize as evidence that they carried out the breach.
    • When a firm's hackers attempt to steal data about a rival's goods and services to obtain a competitive edge, this is known as corporate espionage.
    • Sometimes to steal business and government information, undermine their opponents' systems, or even inflame dispute and uncertainty in a nation, entire countries participate in state-sponsored hacking. 

    What is Ethical Hacking? 

    While hacking is illegal, ethical hacking is a legal method of breaching a security system to detect potential security threats. Ethical hackers look at systems to see if there are any flaws that cybercriminals could take advantage of. Because their job is comparable to black-hat hackers, ethical hackers are often known as white-hat hackers. On the other hand, ethical hackers do not want to harm others with their actions; they instead prefer to safeguard their networks. An ethical hacker replicates a cyber criminal's methods and mental processes to get access and examine the organization's tactics and networking with its authorization. 

    An attacker or ethical hacker uses the same five-step hacking method to break a network or system. The ethical hacking process starts with looking for different ways of breaking into a system, attacking flaws, keeping consistent access to the system, and finally deleting one's traces. Because tech and the risk management field are always evolving, you must stay updated on the latest technologies and techniques. You can study and gain the skills mentioned above by enrolling in ethical hacking certifications that fit industry needs. The next step toward feeling like your work pays off is certification. Cyber security trainings will educate you on protecting your firm from malicious hackers using the most up-to-date commercial hacking tools.

    Types of Hackers

    Based on their motives and aims, hackers can be categorized into three types:

    White Hat Hackers 

    White hat hackers are cybersecurity experts who breach in an 'official way.' They have been given permission or certification to hack the systems. These White Hat Hackers help governments and organizations by breaking into the system. They gain access to the system by exploiting the organization's cybersecurity flaws. They intend to see how secure the organization is from cyber attacks. They can recognize soft spots and correct them to prevent cyberattacks from outside sources. White hat hackers adhere to professional policies and standards and are called ethical hackers. 

    Black Hat Hackers  

    Black hat  Hackers are indeed technology geniuses, but they have the wrong motive. They target other devices to gain access to systems to which they are not allowed. They may steal data or harm the system if they obtain unauthorized access. The hacker's ability and expertise determine the hacking techniques utilized by these hackers. Because of the hacker's criminal motives, often, you cannot determine their purpose or the degree of the intrusion.

    Gray Hat Hackers 

    A gray hat hacker, as the name implies, is in between a white hat and a black hat hacker. Gray hat hacking is still unlawful, unlike Verified Ethical Hacking, because the hacker has not acquired authorization from an institution to attempt to enter their networks. However, the motives of a gray hat hacker aren't as nefarious as those of their black hat rivals. Gray hat hacking is occasionally carried out in the name of the public good. When a gray hat hacker discovers a hole and informs a firm, the corporation may often collaborate with the hacker to remedy the fault. Paying them similarly to a white hat hacker may motivate them to expose instead of exploiting the vulnerabilities.

    Difference Between Hacking and Ethical Hacking

    ParameterHacking Ethical Hacking
    INTENTION A hacker targets a network, system, or app to collect personal information from users and may delete, change, or remove a corporation's records. They intend to steal your data. An ethical hacker would strike a company's network for all the right reasons, such as detecting and repairing security flaws to protect the system, evaluating a company's security procedures and quality standards, and ensuring the data protection policies of an organization. In short, they protect your data. 
    LEGALITY Hacking is when you access a company's network or technology without their knowledge or approval. It is entirely illegal, and anyone found guilty faces serious legal consequences.Ethical hacking is authorized and permitted by the firm, and it is fully legal. Ethical hackers are covered by an agreement. This, in fact, is one of the highest-paying careers today.
    COMPENSATION A hacker or cyber attacker might be a single person, a community, or a government-sponsored cyber hacking squad. In either case, a hacker is looking to make money by unlawfully obtaining confidential material and marketing it or simply using your credit card information.Although an ethical hacker may operate alone or as part of the cyber security team of a company, they are a full-time employee. In return for his efforts in safeguarding the firm's data, they are guaranteed pay and all incentives.
    TOOLS They use the same tools as ethical hackers to exploit the vulnerabilities They use the same tools as hackers to penetrate the system and seal the explored flaws. 
    TRAINING Deep knowledge of networking, a thorough understanding of operating systems, a firm grip over network security control, and knowledge of programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, C, and C are some of the skills needed to be a hacker.Ethical hackers receive the same fundamental training as hackers. After gaining some practical experience, you can pursue certifications such as the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and work as an ethical hacker.
    PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT A black hat hacker has no legit professional development. Instead, the individual is always at risk of being caught by the law. Unlike black hat hacking,  ethical hacking is a highly sought-after career with excellent pay. After acquiring your entry-level job, you can put yourself up for even more sophisticated computer security tasks like senior penetration tester or network administrator in a business.

    Similarities Between Hacking and Ethical Hacking

    Although an ethical hacker is an in-demand cyber security specialist who protects our systems from other cybercriminals, there can be a lot more to add in ethical hacker vs black hat ,  but at the end of the day, they too are hackers. Hacking techniques are the same whether you're an ethical, black, or gray-hat hacker. All of the hackers are well-versed in networks, operating systems, and computer principles. Eventually, they all try to uncover weaknesses via zero-day attacks. The basic difference between hacking and ethical hacking is the individual's intention.

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    The internet provides extensive information. Individuals with a sharp intellect can quickly adjust and improve. What distinguishes hackers is their motivation for hacking. Ethical hackers provide a safety net for your company. They will ensure the security of your network, email, devices, and databases. You can rush up to them as soon as a problem is detected. KnowlegeHut’s CEH certification course will teach you to safeguard your company from harmful hackers.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the difference between ethical and unethical? 

    A hacker targets a network, system, or app to collect personal information from users. In contrast, an ethical hacker would strike a company's network for all the right reasons, such as detecting and repairing security flaws. 

    2What is the major difference between an ethical hacker and a cracker? 

    An ethical hacker, unlike a cracker, is a cyber security expert who protects an organization's data rather than breaching it for personal gains. 

    3Is ethical hacking real hacking? 

    Yes, ethical hacking is similar to real hacking as they go through the same procedure and use the same tools to break into a system. 

    4What are the five steps of ethical hacking? 

    The five steps of ethical hacking are planning, scanning, gaining access, maintaining access, analyzing and WAF configuration. 


    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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