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February 8, 2024

Ethical Hacking as a Career- What Can You Do as an Ethical Hacker?

Ethical Hacking As A Career What Can You Do As An Ethical Hacker

The most young and the previous generation often get confused by ethical hacking and ethical hackers. I have been asked several times about ethical hacking. Of course, it’s not their problem, the term “Ethical Hacking” would sound like “Hacking”. Let’s drill down to understand and not get confused.

While black-hat hackers hide in the shadows, using malware, ransomware, phishing, and a variety of other techniques to commit virtual break-ins, lootings, and heists, their white-hat counterparts employ comparable high-tech strategies to combat an onslaught of cybercrime.

The good news for present and aspiring cybersecurity experts is that being on the right side of the law pays you in the world of ethical hacking. Read on for a closer look at the job market for white-hat hackers, whose talents are in high demand across nearly all industries and can often fetch $100,000 or more.

Let’s explore the world of white-hat hackers. learn everything about Ethical Hacking, how ethical hackers are classified, who are white-hat or ethical hackers, what ethical hackers do, how you become an ethical hacker, how ethical hackers help cybersecurity, and how much ethical hackers get paid.

Ethical Hackers: What Do They Do?

Ethical hackers are compensated handsomely for attempting to breach computer systems. To excel at their jobs, these cybercrime fighters are often told that they must “think like a black-hat hacker” – that they must understand a black-hat hacker’s strategies, motivations, and modus operandi in order to prevent intruders from illegally infiltrating networks and systems and engaging in criminal activity.

In general, ethical hackers engage in activities such as penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and a variety of tactics to keep their enterprises safe from assaults of all kinds, depending on the demands of their employers.

This can include anything like:

  • Keeping hostile attackers from gaining access to and obtaining personal information

  • Vulnerabilities in their employer’s networks and systems were discovered.

  • assisting in the installation of measures to secure or “harden” such weak points

  • To prevent security breaches, we’re working to put in place safe networks.

  • By securing information and assets, they may help their company earn the trust of customers and investors.

For ethical hackers in the business sector, this usually entails safeguarding company assets; for those working for the government, it often entails preserving national security by safeguarding systems and secrets from terrorists.

How Hackers are Classified?

Despite the “hat” motif, hackers are not easily identified by their headwear. Here’s a breakdown of the many categories of hackers, starting with white hats and black hats:

White-Hat Hacker

A white-hat hacker is a cybersecurity expert hired to identify vulnerabilities in software, hardware, and networks that could be exploited, report on those flaws, and help secure those weak points.

They will reveal vulnerabilities to the vendor whose hardware or software is affected, according to, so that it can repair other customers’ systems. Many of the same methodologies, tools, and strategies are used by white-hat hackers as they are by black-hat hackers.

Black-hat Hacker

The outlaws are the black-hat hackers. They’re notorious for hacking into victims’ networks unlawfully in order to disrupt systems, steal or destroy data, conduct espionage, or occasionally just to prove they can.

Black-hat hackers are often well-versed in bypassing security procedures and breaking into computer networks. Some are also skilled at creating malware that is used to infect computers.

Gray-Hat Hacker

Grey-hat hackers incorporate elements of both white-and black-hat hackers, such as investigating a system for weaknesses without harmful intent but also without the owner’s knowledge or permission.

If they discover flaws, they will most likely disclose them to the owner, along with a request for payment to rectify the problem. If the owner refuses to reply or comply, the grey-hat activities may become more serious.

The big three are green, blue, and red hats, but there are additional lesser-known green, blue, and red hat classifications.

Green-Hat Hacker

Green-hat hacker is a term used to characterize an amateur, neophyte, or “noob” who is interested in hacking but lacks sophisticated technical abilities and knowledge. Many people in this group want to improve their skills and get more involved in the hacking community.

Blue-Hat Hacker

The term “blue-hat hacker” can refer to two different types of people. One is a novice hacker who is motivated by a desire for vengeance. The other, sometimes referred to as a “BlueHat,” is a security professional hired by a corporation to analyze software for flaws (such as Microsoft and Windows).

Red-Hat Hacker

The red-hat hacker is the sworn enemy of the black-hat hacker, who is sometimes referred to as a vigilante for going after lawbreakers. Red hats are notorious for not just reporting criminal hackers, but also for deploying advanced tactics to shut them down or even impair or destroy their machines.

What Role Does Ethical Hacking Play in Cybersecurity?

Cybercrime is a $8 trillion problem that requires numerous layers of solutions, according to Statista’s‘ estimate for the yearly worldwide cost of cybercrime by 2023.

One of the most essential strategies for interrupting cybercrime, finding the hackers’ goals and methodologies, and counteracting their attempts to inflict virtual mayhem is ethical hacking.

Ethical hacking is regarded as critical for both businesses and governments seeking to protect their data and assets from malicious hackers.

Source: Statista

Data breaches are so common these days, with trillions of dollars on the line, that the ever-growing list of high-profile victims includes major corporations (Target, CVS), restaurant chains (Wendy’s, Panera), financial firms (Citigroup, Equifax), universities (UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins), social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn), secretive governmental agencies (NSA, IRS), and more.

The average cost of a data breach is at $4.45 million, according to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report. Of course, such computations are an inexact science.

The average cost of a breach can range from $1.25 million to $8.19 million, according to 77-page research from Digital Guardian, which looked at incidents reported by 507 organizations from 17 industries and 16 countries around the world.

Demand for Ethical Hackers

It’s easy to see why the demand for cybersecurity specialists in general, and ethical hackers in particular, is so high in the face of the current surge of cybercrime. Cybersecurity Ventures, an industry watchdog, estimates that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2023.

Because of the scarcity of qualified candidates, the cybersecurity job market has been dubbed “zero unemployment.” A recent LinkedIn search for “ethical hacking” positions turned up thousands of openings at companies including Booz Allen Hamilton, Fidelity Investments, Microsoft, TikTok, Tesla, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the US Department of Defense.

Ethical Hacker Salary Data

Because figures are frequently modified in real-time based on changing data, salary estimates for cybersecurity occupations related to ethical hacking vary greatly depending on the methodology utilized. The starting salaries for ethical hackers can vary between USD 80-120K.

Source: U.S Bureau of Labor

Another form of an ethical hacker, freelance “bug bounty” hunters, can make a lot of money.

Both private enterprises and government agencies bolster their security systems by enlisting the help of freelance hackers to find faults that pose a threat to their overall security. More than 100,000 hackers now work as bug bounty hunters, according to bug bounty portal HackerOne, with six earning more than $1 million.

What Does it Take to Become an Ethical Hacker?

The importance of education and experience cannot be overstated. A good background in computer science or a bachelor’s degree in the subject is particularly beneficial. Working in network support, network engineering, or any other position connected to information security can provide valuable early professional experience.

Certifications for Ethical Hackers

Professional qualifications are very important in the ethical hacker job market. Many organizations want the EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) accreditation when employing ethical hackers; the CompTIA Security+ certification is generally the first one cybersecurity workers achieve. Other well-known cybersecurity credentials include:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

  • SANS/GIAC Certification

Pursue Advanced Education

While a master’s degree is not universally required to become an ethical hacker, pursuing advanced education can provide significant benefits. A graduate degree equips students with deeper knowledge and hands-on skills to excel in cybersecurity roles. Coursework and labs mimic real-world environments, allowing students to put concepts into practice. Additionally, a master’s degree makes candidates much more competitive in the job market. Given the extreme talent shortage in the cybersecurity industry, having an advanced credential is becoming increasingly important for those wishing to advance in the field. Whether required or simply encouraged, ethical hackers with master’s degrees possess the sophisticated expertise to protect sensitive systems and data.

Skills Required to Become an Ethical Hacker

To become an ethical hacker, a wide range of technical and soft skills are required. This includes expertise in areas like networking, operating systems, and programming languages. Ethical hackers need to have sufficient knowledge to competently hack into systems to uncover vulnerabilities, while also possessing skills to appropriately prevent, correct, and defend against attacks. Strong password-cracking abilities, and familiarity with encryption, evidence removal, and ethical hacking methodologies are also key. Additionally, ethical hackers must closely adhere to professional codes of conduct and ethics when performing their duties. Beyond the technical aptitudes, they need effective communication as well as analytical and problem-solving competencies. With cyberattacks on the rise, these well-rounded competencies allow ethical hackers to securely assess systems and protect organizations.

  • Knowledge of networking and computer systems is essential.

  • Current security methods for commonly used operating systems such as Linux, Windows, and Mac are understood.

  • With permission, hack into a network or system to investigate vulnerabilities.

  • Able to take preventative, corrective, and defensive steps in the face of malicious attempts

  • Should be capable of recognizing and breaking a variety of passwords.

  • Should be able to remove digital evidence of network and system breaches and understand the phases and procedures of ethical hacking.

  • Know how to use encryption and cryptography.

  • Follow the code of ethics and professional behavior.

  • Should be knowledgeable of common cyberattacks such as phishing, social engineering, trojans, insider attacks, identity thefts, and so on, as well as how to avoid them using suitable evasion strategies and responses.

Bottom Line

Ethical hackers play a critical role in cybersecurity by identifying vulnerabilities before malicious actors can exploit them. As cyberattacks rapidly increase, the demand for ethical hackers continues to grow, with over 3 million unfilled positions expected by 2023. These cybersecurity experts can make over $100,000, especially with certifications like CEH or CISSP. Aspiring ethical hackers should earn a computer science degree and gain experience in IT roles. With the right credentials, ethical hackers have a zero-unemployment job market and ample opportunities to help organizations defend themselves from crippling cybercrimes.

We hope this post helps you learn everything about Ethical Hacking, how ethical hackers are classified, who are white-hat or ethical hackers, what ethical hackers do, how you become an ethical hacker, how ethical hackers help cybersecurity, and how much ethical hackers get paid.

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This post is inspired by:

Arun KL

Arun KL is a cybersecurity professional with 15+ years of experience in IT infrastructure, cloud security, vulnerability management, Penetration Testing, security operations, and incident response. He is adept at designing and implementing robust security solutions to safeguard systems and data. Arun holds multiple industry certifications including CCNA, CCNA Security, RHCE, CEH, and AWS Security.

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