Step by step guide to becoming an ethical computer hacker

In the computer security context, a hacker is someone who seeks and exploits weaknesses in a computer system or computer network. Hackers may be motivated by a multitude of reasons, such as profit, protest, challenge, enjoyment, or to evaluate those weaknesses to assist in removing them. The subculture that has evolved around hackers is often referred to as the computer underground.

There is a longstanding controversy about the term’s true meaning. In this controversy, the term hacker is reclaimed by computer programmers who argue that it refers simply to someone with an advanced understanding of computers and computer networks, and that cracker is the more appropriate term for those who break into computers, whether computer criminal (black hats) or computer security expert (white hats) – but a recent article concluded that: “…the black-hat meaning still prevails among the general public.”

What does an ethical computer hacker do?


Companies  hire ethical computer hackers to try to break into their computer networks in order to figure out how a real criminal would do it. People in this profession use all sorts of tricks to sneak in—you can hack your way in, con employees over the phone or email, use impersonation to walk in, it really doesn’t matter.

Ethical computer hacking is one of the most interesting and challenging jobs anyone can have. It’s also incredibly rewarding, because ethical computer hackers are helping to protect companies and institutions from malicious hackers who would otherwise have nothing to stop them from breaking in.

What kind of skills are required?

Ethical hackers who stay a step ahead of malicious hackers must be computer systems experts who are very knowledgeable about computer programming, networking and operating systems. In-depth knowledge about highly targeted platforms (such as Windows, Unix, and Linux) is also a requirement. Patience, persistence, and immense perseverance are important qualities that many hackers possess because of the length of time and level of concentration required for most attacks/compromises to pay off.

Most ethical hackers are knowledgeable about security areas and related issues but don’t necessarily have a strong command of the countermeasure that can prevent attacks. The following chapters of this book will address both the vulnerabilities and the countermeasures to prevent certain types of attacks.

The steps to becoming an ethical computer hacker

  1. Know about the pros and cons
  2. Seek out opportunities for an ethical computer hacker
  3. Analyze the basic requirements to become an ethical hacker
  4. Decide the area where you would like to work primarily
  5. Evaluate your strengths and interests
  6. Take professional courses
  7. Get certified
  8. Stay connected with hacker community