June 15, 2018
Ethical hacking is the key to discovering your vulnerability
From businesses to government organizations to consumers, over the past few years, we have witnessed massive data breaches, endangering the cyber security for individuals as well as for the corporations. Thus, cyber security is on a high priority for all.
In this world of hyper-connectivity and advanced technology, we are flooded with an ocean of information. Apparently, this makes it more dangerous for us to secure business and personal data. In the words of hacker Kevin Mitnick, “Hacking is exploiting security controls either in a technical, physical or a human-based element.” Likewise, to trace the next-gen hackers, the ethical hacking framework includes technological as well as human constituents. However, to keep both corporate and personal data safe, businesses must take a closer and broader look at cyber security initiatives, and deploy cyber security solutions viable for now and beyond.
In this blog, we learn about the highly effective ethical hacking techniques to strengthen your cyber security system.
What is ethical hacking?
Hackers are stealing your confidential data by using sophisticated cyber attacks, and thus the conventional methods would not be of much help to block them. Thus, ethical hacking comes to the rescue, and remediates such cyber attacks.
Ethical hacking is just an umbrella term comprising all cyber hacking and attacking techniques, which are deployed with the permission to safeguard the data security. It not only identifies the loopholes, flaws, and vulnerabilities in the system but also ensures the security for the same.
An ethical hacker is certified and legally entitled to use their technical skills to exploit and disrupt the vulnerabilities in your data security framework. In fact, they do the same job that the hackers do, but with a major objective difference: Ethical hacking is legal as it is performed with the permission from the target system.
So how do Ethical Hacking techniques work?
While companies continue to deploy good old techniques to combat cyber attacks, ethical hacking is gaining popularity. Ethical hacking includes vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, and social engineering. Let’s dig deeper into the highly effective ethical hacking techniques and learn how to protect the data security of a company.
You must uncover all of the possible security vulnerabilities before someone attacks your system. Regular vulnerability assessments are a good first step to keeping your confidential data secure from external cyber threats.
What is Vulnerability Assessment?
It is a software testing process to identify, quantify, and prioritize the vulnerabilities in IT infrastructure or computer networks in a stipulated time. In simple words, it is the risk analysis to detect the risks and then deal with mitigation.
Key objectives of Vulnerability Assessment
The main objective of Vulnerability Assessment is to identify weaknesses such as bugs in the code or poor system configurations in computer networks and in software applications. Vulnerability Assessment also helps to detect the possible attacker who can exploit the weaknesses in the security procedure or internal systems.
Record the identified vulnerabilities so that developers can easily understand and finds solutions to remediate them.
Vulnerability assessments help developers understand the various types of flaws and also suggests to them corrective measures to patch the same as well as the repercussions of the vulnerabilities if not remediated.
Once vulnerabilities are identified, it’s time to fix them. A Penetration Test (often shortened to “Pen Test”) goes beyond vulnerabilities! Penetration Testing is a triggered attack conducted on the system, network, or web application of an organization with legitimate permission to assess and attack the vulnerabilities that could be exploited by a hacker.
The key objectives of Penetration Testing are to accumulate comprehensive data, identify the potential access points within the target system, and eventually exploit the vulnerabilities, just like any cyber criminals would do.
Types of Penetration Testing
The External penetration testing process uses the information about the target system from external sources, which can be used by the real hackers to attack your computer network. Once the information from external sources is collected, penetration testing attempts to exploit the vulnerabilities using firewalls, and servers.
Internal Penetration Testing uses information available within the organization to exploit the security gaps. Thus, the ethical hackers will try to access the confidential credentials such as domain password, admin username to penetrate into your computer networks and mimic cyber attacks the way real hackers would do. It is also possible that through improper permissioning, a user has a higher level of access/abilities than their role should permit.
Once the entire penetration testing process is completed, it is the ethical hackers’ duty to report their observations and findings to the organization being tested.
Social Engineering Test
After safeguarding hardware, software and the physical network, the last component remaining is company employees. Cyber criminals use creativity to steal your business sensitive and confidential data. Social Engineering is Pen testing by exploiting human network vulnerabilities to infiltrate your system.
According to Kevin Mitnick, “Social engineering is using manipulation, influence, and deception to get a person, a trusted insider within an organization, to comply with a request, and the request is usually to release information or to perform some sort of action item that benefits that attacker.” Phishing emails may push employees to click on a malicious link or request them to fill in confidential credentials.
Types of Social Engineering Testing
- Mind Games: People are prone to deception, especially when criminals tap into their paranoia. An email may indicate that unregulated traffic has been detected on a work device, demanding entry of credentials to avoid disciplinary actions.
- Humdrum Activity: Hackers attempts may resemble everyday routine. For an instance, an email may pretend to be from an administrator, IT or HR, requesting survey answers or a personal information update, requested by the authorized impostor. Thus, the employee unknowingly leaks confidential information.
- Suspicious Activity: Cyber criminals often send fake alerts requiring the recipient to open a hyperlink or attachment, hidden in emails that emulate official company communication formats, fonts, and colors. A single click may unleash your confidential information.
Social engineering testing helps assess the IT security awareness of the company employee. Ethical hackers may test employee vulnerability towards real life social engineering hacking, where solutions ultimately boil down to security settings and employee training.
Before you set up any cyber security infrastructures for your organization, it is important to identify vulnerabilities, both physical and human. Once penetration testing or social engineering testing illuminates a vulnerability, it is time for remediation. The aforementioned testing methods are the commonly used by ethical hackers and highly effective techniques to combat hackers using hacking mindset, tools, and framework.