What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hackers are in demand

Ethical hacking is the practice of testing a computer system, a network or an application to find security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminal hackers.

For several years, the number of vacancies for ethical hackers has been far higher than the number of qualified candidates to fill them. Ethical hacking is a vital skill that is needed by public-sector, private-sector and not-for-profit organisations everywhere. Due to the sensitive nature of the work, just having demonstrable skills is not enough: employers want professionals who are dedicated to using their skills responsibly. Moreover, the knowledge and skills of a practising ethical hacker need to be current.

The world-renowned qualification for ethical hackers is CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) from EC-Council. It is far more popular than penetration testing qualifications such as CPENT, meaning cyber security professionals with C|EH are in high , working remotely or travelling to countries where their skills are needed on-site by employers. At IT Governance, we are constantly responding to demand by producing new ways of studying and qualifying in C|EH, helping you become a C|EH Master, and continuing to broaden or deepen studies to fuel further career growth.

You will find classroom courses that you can join in-venue or live online, or self-paced study options. Our new blended learning options combine self-paced learning with classroom sessions and valuable one-to-one mentoring. They come with personalised study plans and career development support.

If you are deciding between further study in ethical hacking or penetration testing, check out the FAQs below.

What is ethical hacking?

Ethical hacking is the practice of testing a computer system, a network or an application to find security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminal hackers.

Ethical hackers use the same tools and techniques as criminal hackers, but they do so with permission from the owner of the system being tested.

The goal of ethical hacking is to help organisations improve their security posture by finding and fixing vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

Why is ethical hacking important?

  • Cyber security defence: Ethical hackers play a vital role in identifying and closing security gaps before criminal hackers can exploit them, thereby fortifying an organisation’s digital defences.
  • Compliance: A growing range of global and industry-specific regulations, standards and laws mandate regular security testing – the recent EU DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) regulation being a case in point. Ethical hacking can be sourced either from in-house specialists or consultants, or from ethical hacking and penetration testing companies.
  • Risk reduction: From an operational standpoint, ethical hacking is used for proactive risk reduction, specifically helping to minimise the risk of data breaches, financial losses, reputational damage and legal liabilities associated with cyber attacks.
  • Continual improvement: By regularly conducting ethical hacking assessments, organisations can continually improve their security measures and stay ahead of evolving cyber threats.

What are the main ethical hacking methodologies?

  • Reconnaissance: Gathering information about the target system, including identifying potential vulnerabilities.
  • Scanning: Using various tools to actively scan and identify weaknesses in the target system or network.
  • Gaining access: Attempting to exploit identified vulnerabilities to gain access to the system.
  • Maintaining access: If successful, ethical hackers may maintain access to the system to assess the extent of potential damage.
  • Covering tracks: Ensuring that their activities are not detectable by system administrators.

What is the difference between penetration testing and ethical hacking?

Both penetration testing and ethical hacking are used to test the security of a system. Ethical hacking is a more general term that can refer to any type of security testing, while penetration testing specifically refers to attempts to gain unauthorised access to a system. Both types of testing can be used to find vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of security measures.

Is ethical hacking legal?

Yes. An ethical hacker is trusted to penetrate an organisation’s networks and computer systems. They have the same knowledge and tools as a criminal hacker, but their work is conducted lawfully.

Are ethical hackers in demand?

There is a growing demand for ethical hackers, as organisations become more aware of the need to protect their data from cyber attacks. Certification in ethical hacking can help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your commitment to best practice in the field. C|EH is the most popular certification for ethical hackers.

Is ethical hacking a good career?

Ethical hacking can be a good career for people who are interested in computer security and enjoy finding loopholes in computer systems. Ethical hackers can work for organisations that need to secure their computer systems, or they can work as independent consultants.

Professionals in this field can pursue roles such as:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH): Individuals who have obtained the C|EH certification are qualified to perform ethical hacking tasks and are in high demand by organisations seeking to secure their systems.
  • Penetration tester: Specialises in identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in systems, networks and applications.
  • Security analyst: Monitors and assesses security measures, responding to security incidents and implementing necessary safeguards.
  • Security consultant: Advises organisations on security best practices and helps develop robust security strategies.

What is EC-Council?

EC-Council (International Council of E-Commerce Consultants) is a member-based organisation that certifies e-business and information security skills.

It developed the C|EH (Certified Ethical Hacker) programme and many other certification schemes in more than 87 countries globally.

IT Governance is an EC-Council ATC (Accredited Training Centre), providing the best instructor-led exam preparation experience possible for the C|EH qualification.

What is the Certified Ethical Hacker qualification?

Launched in 2003 by EC-Council, the C|EH qualification is globally recognised as the ethical hacking certification of choice for those looking to develop a senior career as an ethical hacker or a penetration tester.

The ethical hacking qualification’s purposes are to:

  • Establish and govern minimum standards for qualifying professional information security specialists in ethical hacking measures;
  • Inform the public that credentialed individuals meet or exceed the minimum requirements; and
  • Reinforce ethical hacking as a unique and self-regulating profession.

How can I become a Certified Ethical Hacker?

To learn ethical hacking and achieve the C|EH qualification:

  • Attend our industry-leading courses, which are the most comprehensive packages in the world, with Elite 12 and battle labs (unique to IT Governance); and
  • Gain all the knowledge and skills needed to pass the C|EH v12 and C|EH v12 Practical exams to attain C|EH Master status.

CEH Blended Training Course

The most effective way to study for this respected qualification. We deliver the Elite V12 Package with extras to help you learn effectively over 20 weeks combining self-paced study with instructor-led sessions and battle lab exercises.

Become a CEH Master with this course.

CEH Self-Paced Online Training Course

Take up to 12 months to study and pass the CEH V12 exams and go on gain CEH Master status. This is the V12 Elite Package with extra features for more fun and better results.

CEH Instructor-Led training course

Learn live-online with expert guidance from our instructors so you can pass the CEH V12 exams and go on to become a CEH Master.

Instructor–Led Battle Labs

Book yourself in for a one-hour instructor-led battle lab testing your ethical hacking skills.

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