Before discussing various ways involves in ethical hacking, let me give you a short summary of different terminologies used in the hacking universe.
In simple words, hacking is the process of getting into a system with or without authorization. It is done by finding a weak point in the system, and hackers use various tools and codes to perform hacking.
As the technology is growing, the world is shifting towards digital, and the threat for data exploit is also increasing. Hacking doesn’t always mean illegal. It depends upon the type of hacker. So hackers can be distinguished into three parts.
1) Ethical Hacker/White Hat Hacker
Ethical hackers are basically those people who are not into illegal hacking which is also known as ethical hacking. They penetrate a system, with proper authorization, just to find the weak part and search for a solution to fix the problem. These types of hackers are mostly hired to defend an organization’s data from those who want to gain illegal access to it.
2) Black Hat Hackers
Unlike ethical hackers, black hat hackers are people who gain access to the system without a permit. They do this solely for personal interest, to cause a problem, to steal data or money and to destroy a file.
It is for these reasons why they’re illegal. One of the most famous and richest black hat hackers is Kevin David Mitnick (However, he’s now changed and works as an ethical hacker to provide security to companies).
3) Grey Hat Hackers
They are the combination of white and black hat hackers, meaning they may hack into a network without permission, but they don’t exploit the system for their good.
For instance, you may hack Google illegally but after hacking, instead of stealing the data, if you inform Google about the problem and a way to fix it, then you’ll be called as a grey hat hacker. (Although, we don’t recommend you doing this as it may be illegal).
It is an illegal act committed with the use of a computer and a network. Internet bullying, cyber frauds, cyber terrorism, cybersex trafficking, spreading viruses, stealing money online, online scams are some of the examples of cybercrime. Simply, anything that harms one’s personal information or security can be called cybercrime.
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Now when you’ve known much about various hacking topics, let’s jump to the main subject matter of this article. So, these are some of the ways to ethical hacking.
Reconnaissance is the initial phase of ethical hacking which can be called as the information-gathering phase. In this stage, the attacker tries to collect data about its victim.
The victim could be anyone from a website to a web server to an individual to an email. It is a process to know the target and find important information about the target to exploit them in the coming days.
For a website, they search for, an IP address, the kind of hosted server it uses (shared server or dedicated server) and the type of frameworks that are used to build the website.
If the target is a web server, they search for open ports and numerous services running in that server.
Lastly, Suppose the victim is an individual. In that case, hackers will try to find the information about the personal history like their workplace, contact number and other personal data from their social profile.
This stage is mainly divided into two parts:
1) Active Information Gathering
In this stage, the information is taken directly from the target by a phone call or a face to face meeting or surveys. However, it’s not the safest way to gather information as the victim may inform the police about the phone call.
2) Passive Information Gathering
It is a widely used technique for gathering details because the information is taken indirectly from the target and they’ll be unaware of the attacker. The information is retrieved from social media, search engine tools or third party vendors.
Now the data collected from the first part is reviewed, and the hackers try to search for the weak points. The attacker searches for the following things.
1) Port Scanning
This is a process of identifying the open ports on a network which could be sending and receiving information. An application dedicated to port scanning called port scanner is also available on the internet.
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2) Vulnerability Scanning
This type of scanning is done to find a weak part in the system that will help the hacker to make use of the whole system. There are various tools-Nikto2, Netsparker, W3AF, Nmap, Intruder, that can help you to do this scan.
3) Network Mapping
It is used to discover the type of network, devices, valuable information and firewalls in the host computer.
3) Gaining Access
After scanning and finding a hole in the system, the attacker enters the network with the help of various techniques and software. Once hackers get inside the system, they can download software or make files to edit the data of your system.
4) Maintaining Access
One of the most important parts after gaining access into the network is to maintain access by keeping their actions in stealth mode. To keep the entry to the administration, attackers mostly use trojan horses, worms, viruses, spyware, backdoor, adware and many other tools.
5) Cleaning Tracks
Once attackers get what he/she wanted from the system, they’ll simply leave the network. But before that, the hacker will clean all the tracks so that nobody could ever trace him/her. They achieve this by deleting the files that they created, uninstalling the software and clearing the cookies.