What is Ethical Hacking?
So, what is ethical hacking? Have you ever wondered how hacking could ever be legal? As technology becomes increasingly integrated into our daily lives, the need for strong cybersecurity measures is more important than ever.
Associate Professor of Networks and Security, Ron Austin, has nearly two decades of industry experience in networking and teaches students at BCU. Ron is our expert on ethical hacking and is here to answer all your questions about the subject.
What are the types of hackers?
There are three – a White-hat Hacker, a Grey-hat Hacker, and a Black-hat Hacker.
If I’m a White-hat, I am doing that with permission. So, I'm subject to the laws of the land, and I'm doing it with the consent of the network's owner. A grey hat is somebody doing it full-time as a White-hack, but they may be doing some research into how Black-hats operate. A Black-hat is someone who’s doing it maliciously.
What is an ethical hacker, and what are they looking out for?
If you are ethical, you are generally working for a company and performing a security check or a security audit and working with that client to ensure their security is robust. If you’re performing an ethical hack, it's a vulnerability assessment. Cybersecurity jobs have many facets: you could be a network security individual and look at routers and switches. Or you could focus on applications, so if a new application comes out, you can do testing on that website, which is enormous - everybody's got a website.
What’s one of the easiest hacks going around?
There’s something called a click-jack attack; really, they’re trying to get you to click on a link. Commonly they will be falsely advertising something free, practical, and what you want. If the link gets clicked, it gives the hacker complete access to your machine.
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What skills are needed to become an ethical hacker?
You need quite a rounded skill set and a wide understanding of networking and different operating systems: so, Windows, Linux, Apple, and Android. From a course point of view here, you’ll get the chance to learn Cisco, Juniper, and Palo Alto - they're different companies that we work with and teach those technologies.
You don't just have to do ethical hacking - that's the more offensive side of security. You can also be on the defensive side, otherwise known as ‘blue teaming’; this is working on a security operation in a network operation centre, and you’re monitoring from a cyber security point of view.
How much money does an ethical hacker earn?
Currently, if you've got a lot of skills and can do Windows and Linux, you can do Web, and graduates can make 35-40k. If you've been in the industry a while, then 100,000k plus.
Why study ethical hacking at BCU?
It’s truly the best job ever - you get paid to be naughty: you get to break into systems, and you get to beat everybody else's security, It's especially great If you enjoy lateral thinking and thinking outside the box.
If you’re on the spectrum or dyslexic, like myself, we as individuals think differently, which is great because you can get around all the security, and you can get in. Lastly, it’s that feeling when you beat someone in this kind of challenge – it's the best feeling in the world.
Do not forget - you must have permission to be an ethical hacker. If you don't have permission, you're an unethical hacker which is illegal and means ten years in jail. So come to BCU; we'll teach you how to do this ethically!
In summary, studying Networks and Security here at Birmingham City University is a great way to gain the knowledge, skills, and connections needed to succeed in this in-demand field.
Associate Professor of Networks and Security