A Blog from QualiTest

Layer-up Your Cyber Security using Ethical Hacking!

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.

Vulnerability Assessment

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

1. Identify

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.

2. Document

Record the identified vulnerabilities so that developers can easily understand and finds solutions to remediate them.

3. Assist

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.

 

Penetration Testing

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

External:

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:

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.

 

Conclusion

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.