With all of the breaches of data you are reading about in the news that are leading to hefty lawsuits for some of the country’s leading corporations, you get the idea of going to school to become a cyber security expert to help solve the problem. However, you freeze a little bit inside when reading through some of the course descriptions and see that they involve hacking.
Why does cyber security involve hacking? There are many reasons that cyber security involves hacking, the majority of which revolve around getting into the mind of the criminal and staying ahead of the curb. The fact that your cyber security program involves lessons on hacking is not a bad thing.
Much like vaccines involve introducing some “bad” elements into the human body to get a “good” result, cyber security involves the “bad” aspect of hacking to get the “good” result of adding extra layers of security to a network. If you are looking into cyber security, you should not feel stigmatized that the word “hacking” floats around the field.
Does Cybersecurity Involve Hacking?
Yes, cyber security involves hacking.
However, while “hacking” carries a heavily pejorative connotation within the general public, it has diverse meanings within the cyber security community, many of which are not negative.
Let’s look at some of the different ways “hacking” is used in cyber security jargon:
- Black hat hackers – these are absolutely the bad people in the world of cyber security. These are the hackers who break into a company or network’s database and use personal information fraudulently, such as stealing encrypted credit card numbers and running up major charges on someone else’s name
- White hat hackers – these are good hackers. These people are experts in cyber security who are often hired by companies to try and hack into their systems. If they are able to do so, they alert the agency they are working for on where they found the breach and collaborate with them on ways of how to tighten the security in the network
- Gray hat hackers – these hackers are not necessarily good nor bad. They are not recognized as a trusted source hired by a company. They operate on their own, like black hatters, but instead of using the data they crack maliciously, they contact the company and work out a deal on how they can get paid to reveal the leak
- Green hat hackers – in the real world, “green” is often used as slang for someone who is inexperienced. The same applies to cyber security. Green hatters are trying to learn as much as they can about cracking the code of the web but often know little about cyber security. As such, they are not really labeled as either “good” or “bad.”
- Blue hat hackers – these are outsiders who test a computer consulting firm’s systems to see if there are any exploitable points that need to be closed. They are a lot like gray hatters, except the firm knows that blue hatters are outside entities actively looking for weakness. Microsoft was noted for using blue hatters to test Windows
- Red hat hackers – these are the vigilantes of the cyber security world. They do good things, but in unconventional ways, that may be viewed as unethical. For example, if they notice a black hatter trying to infiltrate a bank’s database, instead of alerting the bank, they will try to sabotage the black hatter’s system by bombarding it with viruses
10 Tips on Hacking in Cybersecurity
Okay, so now that you understand how widespread and diverse hacking is within the cyber security world, let’s look at 10 ways hacking is an essential and ethical component of the cyber security field.
Number One: Know Thy Enemy
Sun Tzu had the following quote in his famous book, The Art of War:
“Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”
This applies to cyber security as well. If you can get into the mind of a hacker, you are likely to understand what methods they will use to try and infiltrate your system.
Number Two: Identifies Weaknesses
One of the most important aspects of understanding hacking is that it allows you to identify weaknesses in your system.
If you get in the habit of “practice hacking” a system, you will be able to see where the black hatters are likely to strike.
Number Three: Vaccination Effect
As mentioned in the vaccination example earlier, exposure to something bad can make an entity come back stronger.
Like people are better able to fight the flu after receiving a flu shot, and communities are rebuilt better after a hurricane, security systems are made stronger and more impenetrable after exposed to a hack.
Number Four: Education
Just like scientists’ study infectious diseases and psychologists look into the minds of serial killers, it is good for cyber security experts to learn as much as possible about hacking.
After all, knowledge, whether good or bad, is power. It just depends on what you do with that knowledge that will define you as good or bad.
Number Five: Undercover Aspect
Cops send agents undercover to gain information about certain criminal groups.
Likewise, if cyber security experts can get immersed in hacking, they may be able to gain access to information and communities that will tip them off on how to fight security breaches.
Number Six: Strengthens Perspectives
Seeing matters from a different point of view is always a helpful exercise.
One of the best ways to check your subtraction is to do the problem in reverse using addition. If you want to test your new ideas on security safeguards, look at them from the perspective of a hacker.
Number Seven: Technique Recognition
By learning the various methods of network hacking, you can make yourself better at the recognition of illicit hacking attempts.
Through mastery of ethical hacking techniques, it will be much clearer what is the work of black hatter versus that of white hatters.
Number Eight: Financially Beneficial
Whether you want to find work as a white-hat hacker or simply want to be able to use your knowhow to prevent security breaches for your own firm, the financial benefits of learning how to hack are many.
White hatters command very high incomes, so whether you are collecting the money or paying it out to a contractor, the dollars will be significant.
On a larger scale, when thinking in terms of lawsuits and loss of encrypted assets after the fact, it is always better to see a hack ahead of time than to try and make it right later.
Number Nine: Software Development through Pen Testing
Penetration testing (pen testing) is a way in which hackers look for vulnerabilities in a system.
By pen-testing their own systems, cyber security experts can develop software that accounts for any vulnerabilities, blocking black hatters and allowing the “good guys” to stay one step ahead of any malicious breaches.
Number Ten: Hacking is Constantly Evolving
There is an old saying that cheaters never sleep.
When experts have one area on lock, the hackers will begin work on something else to find a vulnerability. By studying and being immersed in the practice of hacking, cyber security professionals can stay up to date on the constantly evolving nature of the practice.
What is hacking and how it is done? Hacking is looking for flaws in systems using special hacking tools. Once flaws are found the hacker can exploit the flaw to give themselves access and steal company information.
How to prevent hacking? To prevent hacking make sure all vulnerabilities are known about and based on severity fixed or additional mitigation is put in place. Alongside good monitoring and detection tools to find out when systems are under attack from hackers.