The terms hacker and hacking are ones that seem to be thrown around a lot lately. There have been many high profile attacks driven by hackers in the recent past that have catapulted this underworld into the limelight, but is hacking all bad? No, it isnít, as there are legal or ethical hackers that play vital roles for government organizations and high profile businesses. Does the idea of becoming an ethical hacker intrigue you? If so, this article will give you a background on what youíll need to do to become one.
Before jumping into the necessary steps you must take to become an ethical hacker, you are probably wondering what the financial prospects of such a position are. After all, if you are going to spend a lot of time and money to learn a new trade, it has to at least be worthwhile. Well, ethical hacking certainly is.
First, letís take a look at the IT market. While the overall job market isnít exactly at its peak, IT is pretty strong. According to Gartner Research, enterprise IT spending was approximately $2.7 trillion in 2010, up 5.9 percent from the previous year. A closer look at the security landscape is even more promising, as Gartner estimates that global security spending will grow 40 percent between 2011 and 2015 to exceed the $49.1 billion mark. As for the potential salary for an ethical hacker, you could be looking at $50,000 to $100,000 per year or more. This of course depends on a variety of factors, such as your experience and education in the IT field, as well as the company you work for. Those numbers could even exceed the range of $120,000 per year if you have significant professional experience or choose to become an independent consultant.
While making $50,000 to $100,000 per year or more may sound nice, youíll obviously have to make yourself marketable to be hired into such a position as an ethical hacker. Marketability comes from not only relevant experience, but also certifications, which we will discuss more in a bit. Having a college degree doesnít hurt either, as it could give you a leg up on your competitors.
Being an ethical hacker isnít all about certifications and book smarts, however. Employers want a human, not a robot to work for them, and youíll need several ďsoft skillsĒ to become a valuable resource. Some of these soft skills include being good at solving problems and communicating. A strong worth ethic is a must, as is the ability to stay motivated. People skills are vital to ethical hacking too. Youíll need to manipulate people through social engineering to get them to do things such as disclose credentials or execute files.
Now that you know the possible financial rewards that come with being an ethical hacker, itís time to find out the steps necessary to become one.
Develop Your Skills and Experience
The end goal of becoming an ethical hacker may seem far away. If you have no IT experience, then thatís probably true. Still, there are things you can do to get closer to earning the position.
A good start would be to get your A+ certification and work in tech support. As you gain experience helping others, get Network+ or CCNA certified. Once you feel you have enough experience in tech support and some solid certifications, aim for a network support or admin position. After a few years, move up to the role of network engineer and try for some security certifications, such as CISSP, Security+, or TICSA. These certifications should help you as you search for a job in information security. Penetration testing should be a focal point, and you will want to gain some valuable experience working with some of the craftís tools.
You should now be at the point where you can work towards earning your Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification from the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, also known as the EC-Council. The council typically requires a minimum of two years experience in the information security field in addition to passing the exam to earn the certification. There are onsite or online training courses to help you prepare that are provided by certain council-approved training partners. Some of the topics covered include viruses, Trojan horses, backdoors, denial of service attacks, system hacking, session hijacking, and more. Your skills in penetration testing and social engineering, among other topics, will be put to the test. Once you have the CEH, you can begin the search for work as an ethical hacker.
Beyond the aforementioned certifications and experience, there are other things you can do to bolster your appeal as an ethical hacker to prospective employers. Although networking knowledge is essential, some programming experience with C, Java, LISP, or Perl, for example, certainly wouldnít hurt. Database work with SQL or other options, as well as being versed in Unix/Linux commands and distributions are also helpful in making you more marketable.
If you have zero IT experience, one solid option to boost your IT career could be to join the military. Even if you donít serve full-time, service in the reserves might help you pay for school and the wide variety of IT opportunities in the military can give you excellent training and experience. Having military experience on your resume is always good, especially when it comes to jobs that require security clearances.
Jumping into a new career is no laughing matter, so you want to make sure you have a complete understanding of what you are getting yourself into. This is especially true with ethical hacking. Luckily, there are tons of resources on the Web that discuss the topic. Amazon.com has several books on ethical hacking and CEH certification if you are looking for a more in-depth experience. Another good place to visit is the EC-Councilís official website. Their resources page has a host of interesting links on ethical hacking.
The world of hacking is one with good and bad sides. Even if you have the knowledge to do it, stay away from illegal hacking that includes intruding networks without full permission, among other things. If you want a future as an ethical hacker, illegal hacking could ruin your chances. Even if you get away with it now, background checks, polygraph tests, and other procedures youíll go through to gain security clearances could bring up your dark past.
For more on this topic, visit http://www.pcworld.com/article/250045/how_to_become_an_ethical_hacker.html
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