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Ethical hacking: Why it's legal and why we need it?

25th Apr, 2024
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    Ethical hacking: Why it's legal and why we need it?

    With the progress of technology and social contact in virtual space, an individual's personal information has grown more vulnerable due to increased internet use. The internet comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Hacking, cyberwarfare, copyright infringement, and other cybercrimes infringe on a person's right to privacy.  

    We're all familiar with the word hacking. To those unfamiliar with the term hacking, it is an illegal activity that causes damage to businesses or individuals and is a negative phrase frequently associated with criminal activity. Let us delve deeper into the topic to understand hacking, is ethical hacking legal and is learning hacking legal or not in a broader term.  

    What Is Hacking?

    Hacking is defined as a malicious act that aims to access digital devices such as computers, mobile phones, tablets, and even entire networks to harm or destroy systems, obtain user information, or hamper data-related activity. Hacking is impossible without highly experienced and trained hackers in a particular field.  

    Hackers are classified into various groups, but the most common type of hacker include - 

    • White hat hackers Many people wonder if white hat hacking is legal? Yes, it includes testing one's system with prior approval to make it more hack-proof.  
    • A black hat hacker is someone who steals or stops authorized individuals from using a system for personal gain. 
    • Gray hat hacker entails locating potential security flaws in a network security system and informing the administrator of the same. 

    So, is Hacking legal? No, hacking cannot be regarded as legitimate if it is done without the owner's permission. One could face criminal charges and a prison sentence if proven guilty of hacking without permission. However, there are some legal issues associated with hacking.  

    As a result of the legal consequences, people are now turning to hacking that is legal, also known as white hat hacking, and becoming certified hackers that helps to identify and fix flaws in one's system without any security breach.  

    What Does Ethical Hacking Mean?

    An authorized attempt to acquire unauthorized access to a computer system, application, or data is ethical hacking. It involves duplicating the techniques and behaviors of malicious attackers in order to prevent the data from being hacked. This approach aids in the detection of security flaws, which can then be resolved instantly before a malicious attacker tries to exploit them.  

    But, is ethical hacking legal or illegal? Ethical hacking, also known as white hat hacking is legal activity by which the hackers attempt to improve an organization's security posture proactively with the prior approval of the company or the IT asset's owner. 

    It follows four key protocols - 

    • Maintain The Legal Status
      Ensure that they have the necessary permissions before accessing and performing a security assessment.
    • Define The Scope Of The Project
      Determine the scope of the evaluation to ensure their work is legal and within the extent of the organization's permissions. 
    • Vulnerabilities Should Be Reported
      The organization should be informed of any vulnerabilities discovered throughout the evaluation. Make recommendations about how to address these security issues. 
    • Data Sensitivity Must Be Respected
      They may be forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement in addition to additional terms and restrictions imposed by the examined organization, depending on the sensitivity of the material. 

    Ethical hackers are now in demand across various industries such as IT, manufacturing, retail, and government. They can work independently as a freelancer or as part of an agency, depending on the organization's needs. Also, several organizations worldwide provide Ethical Hacking certification training to persons interested in pursuing a career in the field of hacking. 

    Why Is Ethical Hacking So Important?

    Without the internet, our lives would be totally clueless. Everything is done over the internet, from shopping to learning. Though the internet has made our lives easier, it has also jeopardized our critical data. As a result of this, hackers can easily find the data and use it for their own personal advantage.  

    Here's how it helps protect businesses or individuals from cyber crime. 

    • They protect sensitive information from attackers. A firm or organization can use hacking to instantly identify security vulnerabilities and eliminate them. 
    • It also aids in the prevention of cyber-terrorism and terrorist attacks, hence safeguarding national security. 
    • It discovers potential entry points, allowing you to fix them up before an attack. 
    • To eliminate further danger, ethical hackers check that the software works properly under normal and extreme settings. 

    Ethical hacking opens up dozens of new job opportunities every year. It has a promising future, as research shows the demand for ethical hackers is predicted to increase by 77,000 in India during the next five years. To become one, a certain kind of hacking skill and expertise is required. This is why numerous institutions are available that provide Cyber security classes across the globe. It is for those who want to pursue a career in cybersecurity, computer systems, and networks. 

    Why Is Ethical Hacking Legal?

    Computers have become a new tool for conducting both business and crime. The two realms of information technology and the legal system have had to approach each other separately and must now meet at a point known as cyber law. Sections 43 and 66 of the Information and Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act) address all sorts of cybercrime committed in the country, including hacking. However, in 2008, the term "hacker" made it legal. 

    To address the issue of network security, governments and businesses have begun to employ a strategy in which they test their security by having computer security personnel hack into their systems. These professions infiltrate the system the same way as a cracker would, but instead of causing damage or stealing information, they report on the system's flaws and vulnerabilities.  

    So, is ethical hacking legal? Yes, It is legal as long as it is done with the owner's permission to find loopholes in the system and offer solutions to improve it. Also, it protects the system from further damage caused by the hacker. Various institutions provide many accredited hacking courses. The one recommended is the Knowledgehut Ethical Hacking certification training that provides the candidates with thousands of hacking techniques & tricks, EC council certified trainers, iLabs membership, and more.  

    Cybercrime has now become a global danger, threatening the entire world with data breaches, online frauds, and other security issues. Hundreds of new laws have been enacted to protect netizens' rights and transactions in the virtual realm. They must remember these laws in order to penetrate a system or network with good intentions.  

    To protect data, India accepted the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law's model law on electronic commerce, and the Information Technology Act of 2000 went into effect.  

    • According to Section 43 of the Act, any person who modifies, damages, disrupts, downloads, copies, or extracts any data or information from a computer or computer network without the permission of the owner or any other person in charge may be penalized for damages.  
    • Section 43-A of the Act specifies that anyone who fails to secure data is liable for compensation; therefore, if an ethical hacker is a corporation and fails to protect the data he is in charge of, he will be held guilty and would be liable for compensation under section 43-A of the IT Act. 
    • Section 66 of the IT Act deals with computer-related offenses and states that anyone who damages, copies, extracts, or performs any other action without the owner's authorization will be sentenced to three years in prison. 
    • The Indian IT legislation punishes a hacker who does not have proper authorization to get access to a computer, but it does not protect them unless they work for the government under section 84. Also, they must be taken seriously because their presence is critical in protecting computer networks from cyber terrorism and cyber attacks, thus making ethical hacking legal.  

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    To Sum Up

    One of our most disruptive and rapidly developing technologies has been the Internet. According to research, internet users are increasing rapidly, and businesses are becoming highly dependent on the internet for their operations. As more and more things are done online, the chance of a security breach and information leaking is increasing. Cybercrime is a big danger to more than 94 percent of firms, according to a recent poll performed by KPMG across several industries.  

    Similar cyber attacks in the past had targeted approximately 72 percent of the organizations, and 78 percent of these companies had no security measures in place to avoid these attacks. Hackers are developing new tools and strategies to steal organizations' databases for their personal gain and create possible damage to their enterprises in today's world.  

    Companies require more expanded planning and security procedures, as well as improved technologies, to prevent such attacks, as new hacking techniques emerge regularly. As a result, the demand for skilled hackers is rising. 

    So, Is learning hacking legal? Yes, It is a cure that protects data from hackers' exposure. With the expansion of online activities around the world, there is a greater demand for certified hackers and hacking schools. In the next few years, the need for cyber security specialists will be expected to reach a billion dollars. Join Ethical Hacking certification training by Knowledgehut to understand hacking and security foundations and pave your way to being an ethical hacker. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What are the legal concerns of ethical hacking?

    They must follow various norms, such as seeking permission from the system's owner before accessing the system, reporting any faults or vulnerabilities identified, and so on. Also, they should sign a non-disclosure agreement and delete any evidence of the attack after reviewing the system for weaknesses. 

    2What can an ethical hacker not do?

    They cannot misuse the data provided by the owner. Furthermore, they should not make physical threats to employees or seek to extort access or information in any way. 

    3Is ethical hacking legal in India?

    Hacking is a punishable offense in India, even though Indian laws do not particularly address ethical hacking. Hacking goes against the fundamental principles of India's legal system, as it is not officially addressed in Indian law, it has a legal status of neutrality in the Indian legal system. 

    4Do ethical hackers need permission?

    Yes, they need permission from the system's owner before accessing the system. Otherwise, it would be considered an unlawful act. 

    5Is GRAY hat hacking legal?

    Gray hat hacking is considered to be as illegal as these hackers frequently examine a system for flaws without the owner's consent or knowledge. If faults are detected, they tell the owner in exchange for a fee to resolve the situation. 


    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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