Ethical hackers are the white hat penetration testers who find vulnerabilities on a network. They use what they’ve learned in the hacking world to protect corporate networks. Some ethical hackers were former black hat hackers who changed to protecting networks instead of attacking them. They understand cyber threats, so they are the perfect part of a good company security team.
Job Description: What Does an Ethical Hacker Do?
Since ethical hackers no longer perform cyber threats, their main goal is to protect networks and perform penetration testing that keeps digital assets safe. They keep up to date on the latest security threats including viruses, trojans, and other malware. They test current and future additions to the network including hardware and software. They ensure that other security teams understand common security flaws and help monitor the network for any suspicious behavior. They sometimes use pre-made scripts or create their own to use for vulnerability testing.
Ethical Hacker Job Responsibilities and Duties
Any security position has its busy days and its slow days. When cyber attacks happen, an ethical hacker is usually a part of a security team that helps mitigate damages. They help provide support that protects the network, and some days they just need to monitor the network for any irregularities. If network security is strong, the job position doesn’t require a high level of stress. But, for security to be strong, the applicant must have a strong history in computer security.
- Create scripts that test for vulnerabilities including penetration testing and risk assessment
- Develop low-level tools that improve security testing and monitoring
- Deliver detailed reports to different team members and executives that document security findings
- Perform risk assessment across the entire network including hardware and software systems
- Set up security policies that help personnel use best practices for digital protection
- Review and hire vendors to incorporate security systems
- Train staff and personnel on best practices for network security
Ethical Hacker Soft Skills
Ethical hackers need more than just experience in IT security and cyber threats. They must be able to communicate ideas and issues to key stakeholders. They must have oral and written skills to help them articulate any security issues, so they can work with teams to help triage a cyber threat. Oral skills are necessary in meetings, and written skills are necessary for documentation and writing emails to other team members. These soft skills help an ethical hacker build relationships that are necessary for an applicant to move forward with their career.
Ethical Hacker Degree & Education Requirements
Most companies ask ethical hackers and any security professional to have a college education in either computer science or computer engineering from an accredited school. Information Systems is also a respectable college degree in the field. Some corporations hire ethical hackers who have proven themselves in the field. For applicants with no college education, some companies take certifications as a reasonable replacement.
Ethical Hacker Work Experience
Ethical hackers are required to have several hard skills. They must be able to understand low level information for both hardware and software systems. They have programming skills, but they also have hard skills in network administration and desktop support. To understand security and penetration testing, they need these skills to fully support and secure a company network.
Hard skills include:
- Proficiency in programming and scripting languages such as Python, Perl, PHP, PowerShell, C++, Java, and C#
- Understand best practices in security including OWASP Top 10 and SANS Top 20
- Firewall and router configurations
- Risk assessment approaches and penetration testing
- Auditing hardware and software systems for vulnerabilities
- Compliance concerns such as PCI, SOX, and HIPAA
- Cloud computing and virtualization hardware and software
- Operating systems including Linux and Windows
- Networking protocols such as TCP/IP, HTTP, HTTPS, and DNS
- Security threats including DDoS, phishing, social hacking and other malware