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Would you ever pay someone to infiltrate your computer network, compromise your server, and document your company’s vulnerabilities? For some of us, this sounds too absurd to even consider. However, in some instances, an actual cybersecurity service to break into their systems. It even has a name: ethical hacking. It’s a new security safeguard that more and more companies are integrating into their cybersecurity program.
What is ethical hacking?
According to Cisco Mag, “Ethical hacking is an authorized attempt to intrude into an organization’s network and systems to identify potential threats before cybercriminals do. Ethical hackers perform penetration testing to discover the anomalies and vulnerabilities that could disrupt the operations. They think and act like black hat hackers [hackers with malicious intent] to find the bugs and patch the flaws without malicious intent.” Tech Target further states, “An ethical hacker is given wide latitude by an organization to legitimately and repeatedly attempt to breach its computing infrastructure. This involves exploiting known attack vectors to test the resiliency of an organization’s infosec posture.”
What does ethical hacking DO to help your business?
Ethical hacking is a comprehensive process that identifies organizational vulnerabilities to prevent future cyber exploitations (As explained in this short video from Tech Target).
Here is the step-by-step process of an ethical hack:
First, an ethical hacker breaks into a computer system, network, or application with permission. Next, the ethical hacker exploits vulnerabilities to see if a malicious actor can gain access. An ethical hacker may use the following methods: Web server hacking, hacking wireless networks, social engineering, system hacking, and web application hacking. Then, the ethical hacker repeats staged attacks to collect data and record findings. After that, the ethical hacker may stage company demonstrations to educate and help prevent future attacks. Finally, the ethical hacker will compile all the findings to create a written security assessment.
The written security assessment will typically include the following information:
- Executive overview
- Reason for Security Assessment
- Scope and Boundary Definitions
- Methodology and Approach
- Tests Performed
- Results of Tests
- Recommendations and Next Steps
Why should ethical hacking matter to your business?
- You’ll discover vulnerabilities from an attacker’s POV, so that weak points can be remedied.
- You’ll implement a secure network that prevents security breaches.
- You’ll gain the trust of customers and investors by ensuring the security of their products and data.
- You’ll protect networks with real-world assessments.
Is ethical hacking a right fit for my business?
If you’re a Fortune 500 company like Amazon, Apple, or Netflix, ethical hacking may be a great investment in your business. Or you may already have an in-house IT team managing your entire cyber infrastructure. In this case, integrating ethical hacking into your virtual safeguards makes a lot of sense for your organization.
However, if you’re a small to mid-sized bank or healthcare office, you’ll need to have robust cybersecurity controls already in place, to make it worthwhile. Only after these preventive measures are in place, would it make sense to implement an ethical hacking plan.
You’ll want to start building your cybersecurity foundation with these key security pieces first:
- External vulnerability testing
- Security awareness training for employees
- Phishing email testing
- Penetration testing
- Dark web monitoring
- System Information and Event Monitoring (SIEM)
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
If you’re looking to get started in protecting your online networks from the next online threat, click here to contact us.