Ethical hacking, also known as “white hat” hacking, is a critical aspect of the dynamic and widely debated field. While hacking has a negative reputation for breaking into computer systems and causing harm, ethical hacking involves using technical skills to find and address vulnerabilities for defensive purposes. With the growing need for cybersecurity professionals, ethical hacking has become a highly sought-after skill and a stepping stone to a successful career as a cybersecurity expert.
Today, I will discuss the different paths you can take to learn ethical hacking and pursue a career in this in-demand field.
How to Learn to Hack – Self-Study and Practice.
These self-study resources allow you to practice your skills and deepen your knowledge of ethical hacking and cyber security. They are an excellent way to build your confidence and develop real-world skills you can apply in the workplace.
By combining self-study and practice with online courses and participation in online communities and conferences, you can develop a comprehensive understanding of the field and become proficient in ethical hacking and cyber security.
Here are some recommended self-study resources:
Books and Articles.
Reading books and articles on ethical hacking and cyber security can give you a broad understanding of the field and help to deepen your knowledge.
Here are some recommended books and articles:
- “The Art of Intrusion” by Kevin Mitnick – This book provides a fascinating look at a hacker’s mind and valuable insight into the methods and tactics used by hackers. It covers the basics of hacking, from social engineering to network attacks, and provides practical advice on protecting against them.
- “Ghost in the Wires” by Kevin Mitnick – This book is a memoir of Kevin Mitnick, one of the most notorious hackers of the 20th century. It provides a first-hand account of Mitnick’s hacking exploits and his methods to evade the authorities. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of hacking and the mind of a hacker – I’ve read it twice :-).
- “The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook” by Dafydd Stuttard and Marcus Pinto – This book provides a comprehensive guide to web application security. It covers the basics of web application security and provides detailed information on the most common attacks. It also provides practical advice on how to defend against these attacks.
- “Cybersecurity for Dummies” by Chey Cobb – This book is an excellent resource for beginners new to the cybersecurity world. It provides a comprehensive overview of the field and covers the basics of cyber security, from network security to mobile device security.
- “Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets & Solutions” by Stuart McClure, Joel Scambray, and George Kurtz – This book is a comprehensive guide to network security. It covers the basics of network security, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption. It also provides practical advice on defending against network attacks and a detailed explanation of the most common types.
- “Black Hat Python” by Justin Seitz – This book is a comprehensive guide to using the Python programming language for ethical hacking and cyber security. It covers many topics, including network programming, web application exploitation, and more.
- “Hacking: The Art of Exploitation” by Jon Erickson – This book is a classic in the field of ethical hacking and cyber security. It provides a deep dive into the world of computer security and exploitation, covering topics such as buffer overflows, shellcode, and more.
- “The Hacker Playbook” by Peter Kim – This book is a practical guide to ethical hacking and penetration testing. It provides a step-by-step approach to ethical hacking, covering reconnaissance, scanning, and exploitation topics.
Each of these books provides valuable insights into ethical hacking and cyber security.
Online Penetration Testing Labs.
Online penetration testing labs are virtual environments that simulate real-world hacking scenarios and allow you to practice your skills safely and in a controlled environment.
Some popular online penetration testing labs include:
- HackTheBox: A challenging platform where you can hone your hacking skills through various scenarios.
- VulnHub: A platform that offers a variety of vulnerable virtual machines to test your hacking skills.
- OWASP Juice Shop: An intentionally vulnerable web application that provides a platform for testing your hacking skills.
- Bug Bounty Hunting Lab: A platform that offers realistic scenarios to test your hacking skills.
- root-me: A platform that offers various scenarios and challenges to test your hacking skills.
- TryHackMe: A platform that offers a range of scenarios and challenges to help you learn ethical hacking.
- Pwnable.tw: A platform that offers various challenges and scenarios to test your hacking skills.
- OverTheWire: A platform that offers a range of challenges to help you learn and practice hacking skills.
- HackerOne Hacker101 CTF: A platform that offers Capture the Flag (CTF) events to help you test your hacking skills.
- Hack.me: A platform that offers a range of scenarios and challenges to help you learn ethical hacking.
Capture the Flag (CTF) Competitions.
CTF competitions are online contests that challenge you to solve cybersecurity-related problems and puzzles. They provide a fun and interactive way to practice ethical hacking skills and learn from others in the field.
Some popular CTF Competitions include:
- CTFTime: This is a website that aggregates information about various CTF competitions, including dates, descriptions, and links to the competitions.
- HacktheBox: This is a website that offers CTF-style challenges for penetration testing. They have a variety of challenges, from beginner to advanced, and you can sign up for free.
- Root-Me: This website offers a variety of CTF-style challenges, as well as other information security challenges and resources. They also have a ranking system and forums where you can connect with other security enthusiasts.
- pwnable.kr: This is a website that offers CTF-style challenges focused on various security topics, including exploitation, cryptography, and reverse engineering.
Ethical Hacking Platforms (Bug Bounty).
A bug bounty platform is an online platform that connects organizations with a community of security researchers and ethical hackers. These platforms aim to help organizations identify and fix potential security vulnerabilities in their systems and applications.
In exchange for finding and reporting these vulnerabilities, security researchers and ethical hackers can earn rewards, recognition, and other incentives. Bug bounty platforms bridge organizations and security researchers, providing a safe and secure way to discover and report security vulnerabilities.
Two popular bug bounty platforms include:
- HackerOne: HackerOne is a leading platform that connects businesses and organizations with a network of ethical hackers. This platform aims to help businesses identify and address potential security vulnerabilities in their systems and applications. HackerOne offers bug bounty programs and structured penetration testing projects, allowing ethical hackers to earn recognition and rewards for their work.
- Bugcrowd: Bugcrowd is another popular platform for ethical hacking and vulnerability assessment. Like HackerOne, it connects businesses with a network of security researchers who can help identify security vulnerabilities. Businesses can create bug bounty programs and conduct focused penetration testing projects through Bugcrowd. With a large community of security researchers, Bugcrowd is an excellent resource for businesses looking to improve their security posture.
They provide organizations with a cost-effective way to improve their security posture and reduce the risk of cyber attacks.
Online Communities and Conferences.
Online communities and conferences allow you to connect with like-minded individuals and learn from ethical hacking and cyber security experts.
Here are some recommended online communities and conferences:
- HackerOne Community: This is a platform that connects organizations with ethical hackers. The HackerOne community is a vibrant online community where ethical hackers can connect, collaborate, and share their knowledge.
- r/Netsec on Reddit: This Reddit community is dedicated to discussing network security. It is an excellent place for individuals to ask questions, share their knowledge, and learn from others in the field.
- Black Hat Conference: This is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious cybersecurity conferences. It brings together experts from around the world to share their knowledge and experience in ethical hacking and cyber security.
- DEF CON: This is one of the world’s largest and oldest hacker conferences. It brings together ethical hackers, security experts, and researchers to share their knowledge and experience in ethical hacking and cyber security.
Below is an example of the latest DEF CON 30 conference recorded on YouTube.
These online communities are an excellent place to expand your knowledge and network and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field.
Formal education is another way to learn ethical hacking. Obtaining a degree in computer science or taking courses in cyber security can provide you with a structured learning experience and a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of hacking. Formal education can also help you build a strong foundation in computer science and provide a comprehensive understanding of the field.
Online courses can be a convenient and accessible way to learn about ethical hacking and cyber security. Many online platforms offer courses in these fields, including Udemy and Coursera.
Here are some recommended online courses:
- “Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch” on Udemy – This course provides a comprehensive introduction to ethical hacking. It covers the basics of ethical hacking, including network security, web application security, and mobile device security. The course is suitable for beginners and provides hands-on experience through practical exercises and projects.
- “Learn Python & Ethical Hacking From Scratch” on Udemy – This course is designed for individuals interested in Python programming and ethical hacking. It provides a comprehensive introduction to Python programming and ethical hacking and covers the basics of both fields. The course provides hands-on experience through practical exercises and projects and is suitable for beginners.
- “Introduction to Cyber Security” on Coursera – This course provides a comprehensive introduction to cybersecurity. It covers the basics of cybersecurity, including network security, web application security, and mobile device security. The course is suitable for beginners and provides a solid foundation in the field.
These online courses allow you to learn about ethical hacking and cyber security from the comfort of your home. They are accessible and convenient and provide hands-on experience through practical exercises and projects. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hacker, these courses will help deepen your knowledge and provide you with practical skills you can apply in the real world.
In-Demand Cyber Security Roles.
Cybersecurity is constantly evolving, and there is a growing demand for skilled professionals in this field. Here’s a brief explanation of some of the most in-demand cybersecurity roles:
- Generalist Cyber Security Role: This role involves a broad knowledge of various aspects of cybersecurity without specialization in any specific area. Generalist cyber security professionals are responsible for identifying potential security risks and implementing preventive measures.
- Security Governance, Risk, Compliance, and Legal Roles: This role involves implementing and maintaining an organization’s security policies and procedures and ensuring that the organization’s activities are in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. This includes conducting risk assessments, implementing security controls, and handling data privacy and security incidents.
- System Security (Operating Systems and Patching): This role involves securing and maintaining computer systems, including operating systems, applications, and databases. This includes installing and updating security patches, configuring security settings, and monitoring systems for potential security threats.
- Network Security (Networks and Firewalls): This role involves securing and maintaining computer networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and cloud-based networks. This includes implementing firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and monitoring network traffic for potential security threats.
- Security Operations (e.g., Intrusion Detection): This role involves the day-to-day operation and maintenance of security systems and tools, including intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and security information and event management (SIEM) systems. This includes monitoring security alerts, analyzing security logs, and responding to security incidents.
- Incident Management, Response, and Recovery: This role involves identifying, responding to, and recovering from security incidents. This includes performing root cause analysis, restoring systems and data to a secure state, and communicating with stakeholders about the incident and its resolution.
- Security Architecture: This role involves designing, implementing, and maintaining the overall security architecture of an organization. This includes defining security policies and procedures, selecting security technologies, and ensuring that security measures are integrated into the organization’s technology infrastructure.
Source: Cyber Security skills in the UK labour market 2022.
These are just a few examples of the many in-demand cybersecurity roles in today’s market. The right role for you will depend on your interests, skills, and experience. Whether you’re looking to specialize in a specific area or take on a more generalist role, there are plenty of opportunities in the field of cyber security.
There are several ways to learn ethical hacking, including self-study and practice, online communities and conferences, formal education, online courses, and books and articles. Each method has advantages and finding the right learning style that suits your needs and goals is essential.
Whether it’s through self-study and practice or through a structured educational program, learning ethical hacking can be a rewarding experience. With the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals, ethical hacking is a valuable and in-demand skill that can lead to exciting career opportunities.