Ethical Hacking Tutorial
Last updated on 19th Sep 2020, Blog, Tutorials
The vulnerabilities of software or an application is exposed by an ethical hacker before the application is attacked by any malicious virus. Thus the businesses are saved with the help of ethical hacking. This type of hacking is legal and authorized as it explains the loopholes of the application. It helps to find the weakness of computer systems. All the possible entry points in a computer network are found out using hacking and an alert is sent to the system admin so that they will take care of the system. Hackers understand how the systems operate and then play with the systems.
Why do we need to learn Ethical Hacking?
- Ethical hacking helps to protect the data stored online and also prevents others to do security breaches of the online data. Proper security tools can be suggested to those who use online data.
- New solutions are built on a daily basis and given to the customers so that they can safeguard the data and systems from the vulnerabilities and malicious attacks.
- The computer system can be made strong with the help of ethical hacking as it opens up different loopholes of the network that makes it vulnerable. Also, the ethical hacker makes sure that the system is protected.
What is Hacking?
Most people have the notion that the term “Hacking” is used as an illegal purpose, topics related to cybercrime or computer-related crime. But that’s not true at all. “Hacking” is science and art to find solutions to a real-life problem. The term “Hack” is not directly related to Computer Science or Computer Geeks. The concept of Hacking concerning Computer Science came into the culture in the 1960s at Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT university located at Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States (US).
Who are hackers?
The term Hacker ( in related to Computer) are those people who like to tinker with software, any system, or electronic items. They also enjoy exploring how any system operates and discovering various ways to deal with – mechanically, technically, and electronically. In short, Hackers are developers, who provide real-time solutions and think beyond boundaries.
Types of Hackers
In Computer Science, Hackers are classified into seven different types:
- White Hat Hackers
- Black Hat Hackers
- Script Kiddies
- Grey Hat Hackers
- Hired Hackers
- Spy Hackers
- Elite Hackers
White Hackers: These are the good-intentioned hackers. They are also known as ethical hackers whose main agenda is to penetrate systems and networks in an attempt to identify weaknesses that malicious hackers might utilize. If you want to catch a thief, set one white hacker. They identify and close the loopholes using penetration testing.
Black Hat Hackers: These are hackers who destroy your important data by accessing your system without authorization. They are criminals who use practices from earlier experiences.
Gray Hat Hackers: They are undecided hackers, who can be good or bad. Standing at the door, they can get in or out. Their actions are illegal and when they hack to fulfill their personal gains, they fall under black hat hackers. When they hack in order to close the loopholes they then fall under white hackers.
Script Kiddies: These are newbies who know nothing about hacking. They are just there to showcase their skills to whoever is interested to lend them attention. Mostly they are young adults who want to impress their agemates.
State/National Sponsored Hackers: These are experts hired by a government to provide cybersecurity and protect the country from attack by other countries. They also help the country to gain confidential information from other countries with the purpose of being at the top or for other reasons.
Miscellaneous Hackers: This is a subset of hackers who are categorized according to how they hack their target and the mode of doing it.
- Red Hat Hackers: They are a blend of black and white hackers and they target systems with sensitive information such as systems for governments, military, parastatals, etc.
- Blue Hat Hackers: These are usually experts who are not part of the security personnel but are given a contract to test a system before it is launched to guarantee its safety.
- Elite Hackers: These are the gurus in the game. They are simply the best and have all the information at their fingertips about any new development in hacking.
- Neophytes: These are newbies who are still green in hacking. They have no knowledge of hacking at all.
- Hacktivists: Their work is to maximize technology in trying to convey a message about politics, society, or religion.
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Types of Hacking
We can segregate hacking into different categories, based on what is being hacked. Here is a set of examples −
- Website Hacking: Hacking a website means taking unauthorized control over a web server and its associated software such as databases and other interfaces.
- Network Hacking: Hacking a network means gathering information about a network by using tools like Telnet, NS lookup, Ping, Tracert, Netstat, etc. with the intent to harm the network system and hamper its operation.
- Email Hacking: It includes getting unauthorized access on an Email account and using it without taking the consent of its owner.
- Ethical Hacking: Ethical hacking involves finding weaknesses in a computer or network system for testing purposes and finally getting them fixed.
- Password Hacking: This is the process of recovering secret passwords from data that has been stored in or transmitted by a computer system.
- Computer Hacking: This is the process of stealing computer ID and password by applying hacking methods and getting unauthorized access to a computer system.
Different Threats Of Hacking
“Computers hack other computers”, that’s a myth right there. Rather, it is evil-minded people who hack due to their selfish nature for their own benefit.
Enlisted below is an overview of threats associated with hacking:
- Botnets: Many people do not know about it mostly because it is hardly noticed. It comprises robots that form a battalion of sick computers infected with the virus, where the creator controls them remotely. Interestingly, your computer may be one of the soldiers in the battalion, and you would never know it.
- Malware: This is the easiest way to damage your computer. This software is malicious and could infect your computer with trojan horses, computer viruses, or worms. They can send emails, delete files, steal information, and hold your computer hostage.
- Pharming: This form is very common when you are doing an online activity. Do not click all links directing you to that website! It is a set up you don’t want to fall into. Once you are on the website, it may require your personal details which upon entry, you are cornered by malicious individuals.
- Phishing: This is a very easy procedure and preferred by hackers since it does not require too much time. This method includes sending fake messages, email which look like they originate from trusted sources.
So, when the system requests you to validate your information or for account confirmation, that’s the time when you need to think outside the normal flow in order to understand the intention. The hacker may be nearer than you think.
What is ethical hacking?
Ethical hacking refers to an action of breaching a system and maneuvering it with the intention of identifying weak points that a malicious hacker may use. Ethical hackers, therefore, think like hackers and take actions to protect you from being hacked.
We know, you must have liked how it sounds. Basically, protection is better than cure, and that constitutes the work of an ethical hacker who protects the system from the threat of attack. Retrieving an already hacked system is a long process; you do not want to go through it.
Ethical hacking terminologies
Following is a list of important terms used in the field of hacking.
Adware − Adware is software designed to force pre-chosen ads to display on your system.
Attack − An attack is an action that is done on a system to get its access and extract sensitive data.
Back door − A back door, or trap door, is a hidden entry to a computing device or software that bypasses security measures, such as logins and password protections.
Bot − A bot is a program that automates an action so that it can be done repeatedly at a much higher rate for a more sustained period than a human operator could do it.
Botnet − A botnet, also known as a zombie army, is a group of computers controlled without their owners’ knowledge. Botnets are used to send spam or make denial of service attacks.
Brute force attack − A brute force attack is an automated and the simplest kind of method to gain access to a system or website. It tries a different combination of usernames and passwords, over and over again, until it gets in.
Buffer Overflow − Buffer Overflow is a flaw that occurs when more data is written to a block of memory, or buffer, than the buffer is allocated to hold.
Clone phishing − Clone phishing is the modification of an existing, legitimate email with a false link to trick the recipient into providing personal information.
Cracker − A cracker is one who modifies the software to access the features which are considered undesirable by the person cracking the software, especially copy protection features.
Denial of service attack (DoS) − A denial of service (DoS) attack is a malicious attempt to make a server or a network resource unavailable to users, usually by temporarily interrupting or suspending the services of a host connected to the Internet.
DDoS − Distributed denial of service attack.
Exploit Kit − An exploit kit is a software system designed to run on web servers, with the purpose of identifying software vulnerabilities in client machines communicating with it and exploiting discovered vulnerabilities to upload and execute malicious code on the client.
Exploit − Exploit is a piece of software, a chunk of data, or a sequence of commands that takes advantage of a bug or vulnerability to compromise the security of a computer or network system.
Firewall − A firewall is a filter designed to keep unwanted intruders outside a computer system or network while allowing safe communication between systems and users on the inside of the firewall.
Keystroke logging − Keystroke logging is the process of tracking the keys which are pressed on a computer (and which touchscreen points are used). It is simply the map of a computer/human interface. It is used by gray and black hat hackers to record login IDs and passwords. Keyloggers are usually secreted onto a device using a Trojan delivered by a phishing email.
Logic bomb − A virus secreted into a system that triggers a malicious action when certain conditions are met. The most common version is the time bomb.
Malware − Malware is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs.
Master Program − A master program is the program a black hat hacker uses to remotely transmit commands to infected zombie drones, normally to carry out Denial of Service attacks or spam attacks.
Phishing − Phishing is an e-mail fraud method in which the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking emails, in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients.
Phreaker − Phreakers are considered the original computer hackers and they are those who break into the telephone network illegally, typically to make free long distance phone calls or to tap phone lines.
Rootkit − Rootkit is a stealthy type of software, typically malicious, designed to hide the existence of certain processes or programs from normal methods of detection and enable continued privileged access to a computer.
Shrink Wrap code − A Shrink Wrap code attack is an act of exploiting holes in unpatched or poorly configured software.
Social engineering − Social engineering implies deceiving someone with the purpose of acquiring sensitive and personal information, like credit card details or user names and passwords.
Spam − A Spam is simply an unsolicited email, also known as junk email, sent to a large number of recipients without their consent.
Spoofing − Spoofing is a technique used to gain unauthorized access to computers, whereby the intruder sends messages to a computer with an IP address indicating that the message is coming from a trusted host.
Spyware − Spyware is software that aims to gather information about a person or organization without their knowledge and that may send such information to another entity without the consumer’s consent, or that asserts control over a computer without the consumer’s knowledge.
SQL Injection − SQL injection is an SQL code injection technique, used to attack data-driven applications, in which malicious SQL statements are inserted into an entry field for execution (e.g. to dump the database contents to the attacker).
Threat − A threat is a possible danger that can exploit an existing bug or vulnerability to compromise the security of a computer or network system.
Trojan − A Trojan, or Trojan Horse, is a malicious program disguised to look like a valid program, making it difficult to distinguish from programs that are supposed to be there designed with an intention to destroy files, alter information, steal passwords or other information.
Virus − A virus is a malicious program or a piece of code which is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.
Vulnerability − A vulnerability is a weakness which allows a hacker to compromise the security of a computer or network system.
Worms − A worm is a self-replicating virus that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself.
Cross-site Scripting − Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of computer security vulnerability typically found in web applications. XSS enables attackers to inject client-side script into web pages viewed by other users.
Zombie Drone − A Zombie Drone is defined as a hi-jacked computer that is being used anonymously as a soldier or ‘drone’ for malicious activity, for example, distributing unwanted spam emails.
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Ethical Hacking skills
As an ethical hacker, you will need to understand various hacking techniques such as
- Password guessing and cracking
- Session hijacking
- Session spoofing
- Network traffic sniffing
- Denial of Service attacks
- Exploiting buffer overflow vulnerabilities
- SQL injection
Ethical hacking process
Ethical Hacking process can be categorized into the following six phases.
- Gaining Access
- Maintaining Access
- Clearing tracks
Reconnaissance is the phase where the attacker gathers information about a target using active or passive means. The tools that are widely used in this process are NMAP, Hping, Maltego, and Google Dorks.
In this process, the attacker begins to actively probe a target machine or network for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. The tools used in this process are Nessus, Nexpose, and NMAP.
In this process, the vulnerability is located and you attempt to exploit it in order to enter into the system. The primary tool that is used in this process is Metasploit.
It is the process where the hacker has already gained access into a system. After gaining access, the hacker installs some backdoors in order to enter into the system when he needs access to this owned system in future. Metasploit is the preferred tool in this process.
This process is actually an unethical activity. It has to do with the deletion of logs of all the activities that take place during the hacking process.
Reporting is the last step of finishing the ethical hacking process. Here the Ethical Hacker compiles a report with his findings and the job that was done such as the tools used, the success rate, vulnerabilities found, and the exploit processes.
Information Gathering is the act of gathering different kinds of information against the targeted victim or system. It is the first step or the beginning stage of Ethical Hacking, where the penetration testers or hackers (both black hat or white hat) performed this stage; this is a necessary and crucial step to be performed. The more the information gathered about the target, the more the probability to obtain relevant results. Information gathering is not just a phase of security testing; it is an art that every penetration-tester (pen-tester) and hacker should master for a better experience in penetration testing. There are various tools, techniques, and websites, including public sources such as Whois, nslookup that can help hackers to gather information. This step is necessary because while performing attacks on any target, You may need any information (such as his pet name, best friend’s name, his age, or phone number to perform password guessing attack or other kinds of attacks).
Types of Information Gathering
Information gathering can be classified into three major categories
Footprinting is the technique to collect as much information as possible about the targeted network/victim/system. It helps hackers in various ways to intrude on an organization’s system. This technique also determines the security postures of the target.
Footprinting can be active as well as passive. Passive footprinting/pseudonymous footprinting involves the collection of data without the owner knowing that hackers gather his/her data. In contrast, active footprints are created when personal data gets released consciously and intentionally or by direct contact of the owner.
Other than types of footprinting, there are some branches of footprinting which a learner should know before gathering information.
- Open-Source Footprinting.
- Network-based Footprinting.
- DNS Interrogation.
This type of footprinting is the safest holding all legal limitations, and hackers can do it without any fear because it is not at all illegal and hence coined the term Open-source. Examples of this type include: finding someone’s email address, phone number, scanning IP through automated tools, search for his age, DOB, house address, etc. Most companies provide information about their companies on their official website without realizing the fact that hackers’ can get benefit from that information provided by them.
Using this category of footprinting, hacktivists can retrieve information such as user name, information within a group, data that are shared among individuals, network services, etc.
After gathering the information needed from the different areas using various techniques, the hacker usually queries the DNS using pre-existing tools. Many freeware tools are available online to perform DNS interrogation.
- Collect Network Information: such as Domain name, Internal domain names, IP addresses of the reachable systems, rogue websites/private websites within the domain, Access Control Mechanisms, protocols used, existing VPNs, analog and digital telephone numbers, authentication mechanisms and system enumeration.
- Collect System Information: such as users and group names, system banners, routing tables, and the routing protocols it is using, SNMP information, system architecture, operating system used, remote system type, username, and passwords.
- Collect Organizations’ Information: such as Employee details, organization’s website, company directory, local details, address and phone numbers, comments in HTML Source code within an organization’s website, security policies implemented, web server links relevant to the organization, news articles and press release.
Importance of ethical hacking
This part of the article discusses the need for ethical hackers and gives a clear idea of why ethical hacking is worth considering:
- Ethical hackers help in eliminating the vulnerabilities in software or product and build the trust of clients by preventing their data.
- They promise safety in wireless infrastructure by finding the loopholes and rectifying it which is the major concern of most of the companies.
- Ethical hackers can prevent the nation from terrorist attacks and cyber-terrorism.
- In the world of viruses, ransomware and malware, there is always a need for ethical hackers to take preventive measures.
- With the advancement in technology, the IT world has transitioned from local servers to cloud storage, which increased the level of threats and thereby the requirement of ethical hackers.
Scope of ethical hacking
Increasing cases of hacking forced financial institutions, government organizations and private firms to hire ethical hackers. With the advancement in technology and transition to the digital world, the threat of vulnerabilities has increased thus ethical hackers have bright career opportunities than other profiles.
The rapid growth of Industries like internet security and networking made it possible to hire ethical hackers to find vulnerabilities that exist in their network or system to prevent the security breach. Following are some of popular the roles or positions that an ethical hacker may work in an organization:
- Forensic investigator
- Security auditor
- Network security engineer
- Security consultant
- Web Security Administrator
- IT Security Administrator
- Data security specialist
Also, Ethical hackers are offered with an attractive salary package ranging from $25000 to $112,000. You will be even paid more If you have the CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) certification from EC council.
Skills required to become an ethical hacker
Even though it is not mandatory to have a computer science background to become an ethical hacker, it is advised to get a bachelor’s degree in IT or Computer Science. Along with this, getting certified from reputed institutes will make you a highly qualified ethical hacker. Following is the list of certifications:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- Certified Penetration Testing Engineer (CPTE)
- GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
- Certified Penetration Testing Consultant (CPTC)
Apart from the certifications, you should be well versed with the following skills to become a professional ethical hacker:
- Creative and resourceful
- Problem-solving, analytical and logical thinking
- Elementary knowledge of programming languages such as – Python, C, C++, Ruby, etc
- Working knowledge with Operating Systems like Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, etc.
- Should be a continuous learner and stay up to date with the latest technologies in the computing world
- Knowledge of Social engineering techniques like – Familiarity exploit, Phishing, Cryptography, Cryptanalysis, Exploiting human emotions, etc.
- Working Knowledge of hacking tools like Nmap, Metasploit, John the Ripper, Burp Suite and many more.
- Hacking has turned out to be a lucrative business for criminals in this era where data has become critical. The need to curb malicious hacking and its devastating effects and the need for data security have led to the emergence of ethical hackers.
- They test the system for the possibility of being hacked and take caution as well as apply measures that ensure data is sealed. It involves all devices that store information and use the network. There are also different types of hackers, based on their intentions and their mode of operation.
- Ethical hacking is a good practice that enhances security. All businesses should consider applying it to their firms if they want to protect their operations and data.
- Becoming an ethical hacker requires a stepwise procedure and certification, and that legalizes their operations.
- The future of ethical hacking is looking brighter with exponential expected growth. The salary is also better compared to other sectors. Choosing to be an ethical hacker can be the best move for your career.
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