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An Introduction to Ethical Hacking: A Complete Guide

17th Jan, 2024
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    An Introduction to Ethical Hacking: A Complete Guide

    Ethical Hacking as a practice includes assessing and finding the cracks in a digital system that a malicious hacker can take advantage of. These cracks assist the malicious hacker in providing an effortless way to enter and harm the system or reputation of the hacking victim. Thus, a certified ethical hacker will solidify the present security levels while finding any loopholes that may be exploited. Hacking professionals must keep ethics in mind and provide desired cyber security to individuals, firms, or governments from the threat of malicious hacking and security breaches. Besides, ethical Hacking is done with the consent of the concerned clients to enhance the safety of their online presence.

    CEH training online is a wonderful way to understand and implement the key concepts of ethical hacking and ways to do it right. These training programs help you learn a wide range of skills and methods to employ them and safeguard sensitive information on the internet.

    This informative article will provide you with a detailed introduction to ethical hacking to help you understand the associated key concepts. Besides, it will give a detailed differentiation between ethical hackers and hackers with malicious intent.

    What is an Ethical Hacker?

    An ethical hacker is a trained professional hired to provide top-notch cybersecurity to individuals, firms, and governments by legally hacking into their systems and identifying any weak spots. An Ethical Hacking course can help you build a career as an Ethical Hacker. Get cyber security course details and pursue it to understand the basics.

    What are The Key Concepts of Ethical Hacking?

    The key concepts of ethical hacking are what distinguishes it from other forms of hacking practices. Before beginning with the "types of hackers" and the process followed, getting an ethical hacking overview of the key concepts is imperative.

    • Legality – Before beginning the process of ethical hacking, hackers should get due permission and legal approval (a MUST do).
    • Scope – Ethical hacking can be extensive or shallow depending upon the client's requirement. Understanding this scope is important before starting the task.
    • Report – Once the process of hacking is complete, all the vulnerabilities or security issues should be duly reported to the concerned teams.
    • Data Privacy – Ethical hackers often come across data and sensitive information and, therefore, may require signing a contract before they begin working.

    What are the Types of Hackers?

    There are three types of Hackers – White Hat, Black Hat, and Gray Hat Hackers.

    White Hat Hackers – These are the "Ethical Hackers" who attempt to hack into a system for the benefit and security of the system. This type of hacking is legal and is used by individuals, big and small firms, and even the government to test their systems, find any weakness and fix it. White Hat hackers work with the mentality of the malicious hackers but with good intention. They employ different methods to breach the security walls via vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, etc. The system owners often employ these hackers.

    Black Hat Hackers – As the name suggests, these types of hackers try to gain unauthorized access to security systems and data systems with the intent to cause harm. Their objective can be stealing sensitive information (which they can sell illegally), halt the operations process of a firm, damage the system permanently, etc. All of this is an illegal and punishable offense.

    Gray Hat Hackers – These types of hackers are somewhere in the middle of the White Hat and the Black Hat hackers. That is because these hackers exploit the weaknesses of a system without the owner's permission, but it is not done with any malicious intent. These hackers do this for their fun or to learn to hack, but once they are successful, they usually inform the owner about the weak point. Even though this type of hacking is done without malicious intent, it is indeed an offense. Therefore, if someone is interested in learning ethical hacking, the best course of action is to enroll in an introduction to an ethical hacking course in Hindi or English.

    What are the types of Hacking?

    There are different ways in which a system can be hacked -  

    1. Computer Hacking or System Hacking – This type of hacking includes illegally gaining access to individual systems or computers within a network. This is often seen when the target is singular, or the purpose is to steal information from a network of computers. It is the job of ethical hackers to try and get into the systems to identify the weak points.

    2. Network Hacking or Wireless Network Hacking – Wireless Hacking is the process of stealing, capturing, or monitoring the wireless packets within a particular network. Once a hacker gets access to the wireless network, they can also access passwords, chat sessions, user history, etc. Ethical Hackers use similar methods to breach the wireless network and find new and different ways that Black Hat hackers can use.

    3. Email Hacking – In the digital world of the corporate sector, emails contain extremely sensitive data & information that hackers may be interested in. Email hacking can include hacking into the network to get email passwords and gaining unauthorized access to the email of an individual or employees of a business. This can expose an individual's personal life or reveal sensitive data from business emails. A phishing attack (widespread) can also lead to users compromising their personal information or data security.  

    4. Website Hacking or Web Application Hacking – Unethical hackers might show interest in hacking websites or web servers as it can negatively affect a business. This can lead to the website being down for extended periods (loss of business, exposure, and recognition), theft of software and database, and even permanent damage. However, ethical hackers attempt to do this with permission and then suggest how the cracks can be fixed.  

    5. Password hacking can be a part of computer or system hacking. Hackers utilize the data stored on the computer and on the servers to access the passwords to any website, computer, email, accounts, etc., and then use that information for malicious purposes. Ethical hackers use similar methods to do so and identify any security measures that can be followed to prevent this.  

    Phases of Ethical Hacking

    There are five phases of ethical hacking to ensure that all the bases of cybersecurity are covered while ethical hackers test an organization's network. These phases help in understanding the fundamentals of ethical hacking.

    Reconnaissance – This is the first phase of ethical hacking and is often known as the preparatory phase. In this phase, an ethical hacker will gather sufficient information, create a plan, and prepare for the attack. Within reconnaissance, the first phase is Dumpster Diving, where an ethical hacker hopes to find useful information such as old passwords, databases of employees, clients, archived financial information, etc. The next step is footprinting, where the hacker will collect the relevant and required information for the hacking process, such as security frameworks, IP addresses, etc.

    Scanning – Scanning is the process of getting quick access to the outer level of the security framework of any network or system. Once again, hackers look for relevant information in this phase. The first step is pre-attack scanning, where information from reconnaissance is used to gather more information. The second step is sniffing or port scanning, where a hacker uses tools like vulnerability scanners, port scanners, dialers, etc., to survey the network. Lastly, information extraction is where information about the ports, physical machine, and system details is gathered to prepare for the hacking attack.  

    Gaining Access – Once all the relevant information is gathered, the next step for the hacker is to gain access to the network or the system. Once this happens, the hacker gains access and complete control over the network details and individual systems.

    Maintaining Access – After an ethical hacker gains access to the system, they will continue to maintain the attack to allow sufficient time to gather the information required or complete the purpose of hacking. Additional attacks are also launched if the hacker needs more time or wants to do more damage.

    Covering Tracks – Escaping the security personnel and the security framework built into the system is as important as gaining access. This is done by following steps such as closing open ports, deleting the log files, clearing all cookies, etc. This ensures that the hacking attempt cannot be tracked to the hacker.  

    How are Ethical Hackers Different from Malicious Hackers?

    Ethical Hacker
    Malicious Hackers
    In the case of ethical hackers, the intent is to help the owner identify any cracks or issues in the security system.Malicious Hackers hack into systems with the intent to cause harm. They tend to steal sensitive information, hinder work operations, etc.
    Ethical Hacking is legal as ethical hackers have the proper permissions and approvals.Malicious hackers do not have permission to hack into the systems. They forcefully enter to cause harm. It is illegal and a punishable offence.
    The organization or the owner employs white hack hackers.Black hat hackers do so without consent.

    What Skills and Certifications should an Ethical Hacker obtain?

    Some of the common skills that are required to become an ethical hacker include -  

    • Programming Knowledge that is required while working in the field of network security.
    • Scripting knowledge to identify and deal with attacks.  
    • Network skills, as most malicious hacking attacks are aimed at the network. Proper knowledge of computer networking is required to help find the flaws in the system.
    • Basic knowledge of operating systems such as Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.  
    • Up-to-date knowledge of new hacking methods, tools available, hacking patterns, etc.  

    A detailed introduction to ethical hacking can help you with the process of developing the required skill set.  

    Roles and Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker

    The roles and responsibilities of an ethical hacker include -  

    • Getting proper permission from the organization to organization
    • Understanding the scope of hacking and what the requirement is
    • Think like a malicious hacker and find ways in which security can be breached
    • Report the issues to the teams concerned to help find a solution
    • Keep any discovery of flaws and any sensitive information confidential
    • Not leave any trace of hacking to protect malicious hackers from using the same cracks

    What Problems Does Hacking Identify?

    Some of the common problems that ethical hacking solves are - it can identify pirated content on organization systems, passwords that have been exposed, security levels that are not up to the mark, network protection settings that do not provide enough security, etc.  

    Limitations of Ethical Hacking

    Some of the common limitations of ethical hacking include -  

    1. The process of ethical hacking, if not done carefully, can damage the internal systems and files or even erase data.  
    2. Even though ethical hackers are often made to sign contracts before they begin working, the information they see during their work may be used for personal gain or malicious use.  
    3. As ethical hackers will have access to the firm's systems and network, it can raise a question of employee privacy and the privacy of client data.  

    Ethical Hacking Benefits

    Ethical hacking has benefits that help identify and curb any malicious attacks to steal data, cause issues for an individual or a business, bring national security at risk, etc.  

    1. Some of the most important benefits are -  
    2. The creation of a secure network is the first step in ensuring low liability. Therefore, ethical hackers also help create a safe network from security breaches.
    3. In terms of national security, ethical hacking plays a significant role. Intercepting information regarding digital terrorist attacks, protecting data from malicious hackers, and defending the national systems from security breaches are all some of the common ways in which ethical hacking is beneficial.
    4. Ethical hacking reinforces the digital structure of the concerned organization. It discerns and identifies the underlying loopholes and ensures to take necessary measures to avoid compromises in security.

    Ethical hacking also helps businesses establish trust with their customers. Reliability among customers helps them build a loyal customer base. Security of the product or service and the user data help businesses flourish in their sector. Data is one of the most critical assets of businesses, and it is their responsibility to ensure that it is safe and sound. 

    If you have developed an interest in this domain, get enrolled to KnowledgueHut's CEH training online and get started with a career in ethical hacking.


    You can start your Ethical Hacking career by taking a certification course and gaining relevant practical experience. Understanding the fundamentals and getting theoretical knowledge are essential. However, practical experience will help you understand the process better. Cyber security is an extremely important part of today's security framework. With tons of sensitive data stored with third-party services, protecting that data has become a significant task.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What are the 5 stages of ethical hacking?

    The five stages of ethical hacking are listed below Reconnaissance- Scanning- Gaining Access- Maintaining Access- Covering Tracks.

    2What are the different types of Ethical Hacking?

    The different types of ethical hacking are - System Hacking- Network Hacking- Email Hacking- Password Hacking and more.

    3What are the 7 types of hackers?

    There are three types of hackers, as discussed in the above article, including White Hat Hackers, Black Hat Hackers, and Gray Hat Hackers. However, time and working patterns have introduced more types of hackers, including Green Hat (still in training), Blue Hat (authorized software hackers), Red Hat (Govt-hired Hackers), and Purple Hat (hacking their systems for identifying flaws).

    4What is the full form of HACKER?

    The unofficial yet interesting full form of HACKER is H-Hide IP, A- Aim Victim, C-Crack Encrypt, K- Kill Firewall, E- Enter System, and R- Return Anonymous.


    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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