You have probably already seen hackers in movies or series or heard about them in the media. But did you know that far from these images are real-life good hackers, paid by companies to hack their systems? But what exactly is “ethical hacking”, how is it different from standard hacking and why is it so valuable for organisations?
Hackers: The internet pirates
Nowadays companies’ most precious belongings are stored online, and unlike a pile of goods, this data cannot be easily protected by being put away in a safe. That is where hackers’ journey starts. Hacking is the practice that enables an individual to access data stored privately by a company or another individual. Hackers take advantage of coding mistakes, backdoors, misconfigured accesses and weak passwords to infiltrate databases and infect systems. Usually, their end goal is to get money from the information they were able to access.
Ethical Hackers: Hacking with good intentions
Just like standard hackers, ethical hackers’ goal is to find breaches in companies’ systems. However, the main difference lies in the fact that ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers or penetration testers, conduct authorised attacks to ensure the data is safe and sound. They work together with members of companies’ cyber security teams to perform hacks and locate pain points. Their goal is to help companies or individuals to reinforce their security by discovering ways they could be hacked, simulating crises and testing their response system.
Penetration Testers: What companies crucially need today
All organisations use data centres to store confidential information about their newest innovations or their financial reports, but also sensitive data, protected by governmental laws, such as their customers’ or employees’ personal information. Protecting this private content is one of companies’ greatest challenges as a data breach could not only reveal their factory secrets but also make them lose customers, tarnish their image and expose them to a fine. These repercussions are the reason why companies are so eager to engage new penetration testers to test their system and give them useful feedback. Unfortunately, they are struggling to do so, as a study from Cyber Ireland has shown, there are 4 million unfilled cyber jobs worldwide because of the lack of trained professionals.
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