In this tech-savvy world, it has become imperative for organizations to safeguard their digital assets. And this is where the role of an ethical hacker comes into play. So who is an ethical hacker? An ethical hacker is someone who, with the permission of an organization, tries gaining unauthorized access to its systems and reports loopholes in cybersecurity to facilitate better data protection.
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Source: Monster.com), prospects of cybersecurity professionals were likely to bloom by 37% between 2012 and 2022-faster than any other existing profession. Given this, cybersecurity and specifically ethical hacking seems to be a lucrative career option. And the best thing is ethical hacking is not restricted to IT professionals and can be pursued by anyone having adequate knowledge.
Ethical hacking for beginners may seem daunting in the initial phase; however, by devoting considerable time and figuring out the best learning methodology, one can become a professional ethical hacker. The next question is the best way to learn ethical hacking, especially when you're a beginner having no clue of the starting point. While there are many ways to learn ethical hacking, we have got you the best way to help you become a skilled ethical hacker.
Get the Fundamentals Right
Before diving into ethical hacking, it's essential that you work upon your basic knowledge and understand the key concepts and learn what ethical hacking is all about. To get the fundamentals right, you need to:
- Gain an insight into various operating systems in use, such as Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS
- Attain strong networking skills, primarily including inspection, packet capture tools, libraries, and OS support.
Look for the Best Information Sources
Ethical hacking for beginners can be simplified by researching and finding out the best sources to provide authentic and extensive knowledge on ethical hacking. The best ways to seek adequate knowledge on ethical hacking involves:
- Taking a professional ethical hacking course via offline or online mode and acquiring some popular certifications such as CEH, GIAC Penetration Tester Certification, PEN-200, and OSCP.
- Be a voracious reader and reach out to the top books on ethical hacking and articles.
Learn by Doing
Learning by doing is the best way to assimilate any concept. After completing your course and gaining in-depth knowledge, you can set up a virtual setup and start practicing ethical hacking as a beginner. Now for setting up a system, all you require is a computer and a good internet connection and maybe a few additional adapters or controllers for certain specific skills. Some of the platforms wherein you can practice ethical hacking are:
- PentesterLab: With the help of many tutorials and labs, PentesterLab allows learners to identify a wide range of vulnerabilities and master the art of ethical hacking.
- Vulnhub: It gives access to a range of downloadable virtual machines having vulnerabilities that need to be identified by ethical hackers.
- CTF365: It allows users to have a real-world experience by letting them attack other users while defending their system.
- Google Gruyere: Ethical hacking for beginners becomes easy with this application because they can learn the methodologies used by hackers to figure out the vulnerabilities to exploit the web applications and protect the digital assets from such hackers.
Participate in Cybersecurity Competitions
Taking part in cybersecurity competitions is the best way to put your knowledge to the test. Every year, a broad spectrum of cybersecurity competitions, also known as 'Capture the Flag' (CTF) competitions, are held to invite ethical hackers all across the world to test their knowledge. Participating in such competitions boosts one's knowledge and gives a great exposure to potential threats that may harm our systems. Being a beginner in ethical hacking, you may consider the following cybersecurity competitions:
- Insomni'hack: It's one of the most significant cybersecurity events taking place in Switzerland since 2008. To be part of this event, candidates need to participate in a cybersecurity conference held in Geneva and then participate in the security-related contest on the final day of the conference. The event is highly recommended for beginners seeking hands-on experience and knowledge about cybersecurity and ethical hacking.
- Google CTF: This again is one of the most renowned ethical hacking competitions organized by Google to test the hacking skills of individuals. The contest unfolds in two stages, with the first stage being the qualifying stage exposing participants to many hacking exercises. Qualifying teams are then made to compete against each other at the Google office, and the winning team is awarded a cash prize of $31,337.
- DEF CON: This is the biggest and the oldest cybersecurity conference globally, taking place since the year 1993 in Las Vegas. Being part of the conference, individuals seek in-depth knowledge of cybersecurity and ethical hacking through research, hands-on training, and hacking competitions. The winning team is offered a handsome cash prize of nearly 2 million USD.
- picoCTF: It's a 2-week online cybersecurity competition organized by Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with CyLab. The competition offers hands-on experience to participants by mimicking real-life cybersecurity challenges and, consequently, allowing them to test their hacking skills.
As we have presented the best way to learn ethical hacking for beginners, we hope you'll leave no stone unturned to become a successful ethical hacker and have a flourishing career ahead.
So what's next? Just pull up your socks and dive into the world of ethical hacking!