Exploding The Myth Of The Ethical Hackers

If you have criminally good technical skills but can’t handle potential prosecution and prison time, you should turn away from the dark side and become an ethical hacker instead.

The biggest myth that people imagine when they think “hacker” almost always means someone malicious or a criminal. A hacker is basically someone who likes to tinker with tools and software, figure out ways to solve problems or open up new possibilities through using technology. The ones who do it to steal money or hurt people are just criminals. The bad guys are definitely “criminal hackers.”

So, what is an ethical hacker?

You are that person, the one who is summoned when a cyber warfare is going on, just because you own that big-ass cyber weapon.

This is our take on the matter: you have to think like a hacker to defeat a hacker, or even step into the shoes of a hacker. Said another way, the best person to protect a home’s security system is the guy who installed it — right? Well, it’s the same thing for information security and protecting data.

As an ethical hacker (a.k.a. legal hacker or “white hat” hacker), you get to exercise all your hacking skills to find the flaws in networks and applications, but instead of using the holes you find to enrich yourself, you inform the appropriate authority to fix the gap and protect others.

How much can I make?
This gig generally requires a university education and knowledge of very specific and specialized technologies, which means you get paid pretty well. The more specialized your skill, the higher your pay. If you want to make a lot of money straight out of school or fresh from getting a certification, you are looking at an average of RM 78,000 a year for a security analyst. An information security manager with five to eight years experience can rake in a six-figure income (something like RM 160,000 a year).

If you are serious about this profession, you should go for it! The market and demand for this space is massive. Like anything, what you put in, you will get out.

I want to get started
You can’t just dive into an ethical hacker position, unfortunately. Without knowledge in computer networks, software, programming languages, creativity and drive, you won’t get very far. To start, you better start picking up all the leet skillz of an ethical hacker by earning a bachelor’s degree in a technical field. In fact, your best bet is to go for an IT degree majoring in computer or information science. Immerse yourself in Unix/Linux, HTML5 commands and Java to be a master Jedi programmer. As you watch your mates dating and road-tripping wondering why you didn’t major in philosophy, you’ll remember that you want to actually be employed when you graduate.

Besides that bachelor’s degree, you probably ought to also start pursuing security certifications like EC-Council’s certified ethical hacker. This should up your chances of getting employed — likely as a junior information security analyst.

What’s the worst part of the job?
Breaking things for a living sounds fun, but it demands a thick skin. You’ll often get clients who don’t really want to know how vulnerable they are. Some may think it’s cheaper to just fix the problem only after the company’s been breached, then to spend the money ahead of time on better security. Sort of like when your car starts making a funny noise, but you don’t want to take it to the auto shop because you’re afraid of how much it will cost.

The only way to deal with this aspect of the job is to stick to your guns — do your best, don’t hold back, and report as clearly as you can exactly where the company is vulnerable and what that could mean. In the end, it’s up to the client to take the right steps to protect itself and its customers.

Top 3 Most Famous Hackers Of All Time

Hats off to the white hats. These hackers, who crack into computer networks to find holes before their underground “Black Hat” cousins do, have created some really cool stuff in securing the online world.

  • Stephen Wozniak — Steve “Woz” — the other “Steve” of Apple Inc. got his start in hacking by creating a device called blue box, which could bypass telephone switch mechanisms to make free long distance calls. Besides selling blue boxes to his classmates in college, he even used it to call the Pope while pretending to be Henry Kissinger (Too bad the Pope was asleep during that time).
  • Julian Assange — Best known for founding Wikileaks in 2006, Julian Assange is a computer programmer and journalist who won the most votes in TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year. He hacked access to government documents and disclosed information regarding allegedly illegal or dishonest activities within a government department.
  • Tsutomu Shimomura — Shimomura reached fame when he helped the FBI capture Kevin Mitnick, a black hat hacker. Initially, Mitnick sent a personal attack to Shimomura by hacking into his computers. In response, Shimomura managed to outclass Mitnick by hacking his cell phone and using it to monitor phone calls. In the end, Shimomura tracked him down to an apartment and Mitnick was quickly arrested. The events of this incident were later adapted to the big screen in a movie called Takedown.

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