The term white hat in internet slang refers to an ethical computer hacker, or a computer security expert, who specialises in many different cyber security testing techniques.
Rather than hoping your cyber security systems will withstand a hacking attempt, companies are opting to employ the services of an ethical hacker to find vulnerabilities in their cyber security systems.
There are many ways a malicious hacker might attack your organisation and identifying these vulnerabilities before they are breached using an ethical hacking service is one popular defence.
You may have heard of penetration testing. So, is there a difference between penetration testing and ethical hacking?
What is penetration testing?
Penetration testing is a formal procedure aimed at identifying cyber security vulnerabilities, defects, threats, and defective environments. In other words, penetration testing is often seen as a successful but non-damaging attempt to penetrate a specific information system; impersonating activities cyber criminals would engage in with the purpose of compromising your corporate systems.
In general, organisations conduct pen tests to aid in strengthening their corporate defence systems which in turn protect business critical information systems. It is to be noted that while penetration testing can help organisations reinforce their cybersecurity defences, this measure should be performed on a regular basis since malicious entities invent newer and newer weak points especially in emerging systems, programs, and applications. Even though a pen test may not provide answers to all your security concerns, such a test will significantly minimise the likelihood of a successful cyber-attack.
What is ethical hacking?
Ethical hacking, on the other hand, is an all-embracing term that includes all hacking methods. Some people disagree with hacking being considered ethical in any way. They deem that the word hacker in the term ethical hacker is added to attract more people to training programs and courses.
Compared to ethical hacking, penetration testing is a more narrowly focused phase. Simply put, ethical hacking can be classified as a more comprehensive and exhaustive method of cyber security testing, and penetration testing is merely one fragment of all those techniques, all of which are designed to locate security issues within the targeted information system.
Is ethical hacking even legal?
Yes, it’s legal because an ethical hacker is a computer and networking expert who systematically attempts to penetrate a computer system or network at the request of its owners for the purpose of finding security vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could potentially exploit.