Simply put, ethical hacking is of paramount importance in finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in various systems for legitimate purposes. A similar role to a penetration tester, ethical hackers break into systems legally and ethically, with the difference being the legality of their processes and work, compared against ‘black hat’ hackers.

Information found by an ethical hacker is then used by the organisation to improve the system security, in an effort to minimise and eliminate any potential attacks.

So what establishes ethical hacking?

To be deemed ethical, ethical hackers must conform to the following four rules:

  1. Provide expressed (often written) permission to probe the network and attempt to identify potential security risks
  2. Respect the individual’s or company’s privacy
  3. Secure any part of the network they’ve exploited, not leaving anything open for them or someone else to exploit at a later time
  4. To inform the software developer or hardware manufacturer of any security vulnerabilities located in their software or hardware, if not already known by the company

Within the cyber industry, it’s argued there’s no such thing as a good hacker. But just last year, the NHS was looking to spend £20 million employing ethical hackers to look for weaknesses in health computer networks. In May 2017, one-third of UK health trusts were hit by the WannaCry worm, which demanded cash to unlock infected PCs.

Examples such as this argue the fact that ethical hackers are absolutely necessary for the long-term security of organisations. A smart, proactive method that can help prevent malicious hacking, ethical hackers run through every possible scenario. Their jobs are rarely ever completed, with ‘black hat’ hackers constantly improving and evolving their methods to break into networks.

Ethical hacking techniques

Penetration testing and vulnerability analysis are two techniques that fall under the broader umbrella of ethical hacking. Both are used deliberately to try and break into a network, in order to locate where any weaknesses might be before they’re found by real hackers with malintent. If an ethical hacker successfully breaks into your system, they can both analyse and prioritise those vulnerabilities, so they’re on your organisation’s radar for the future. They can also help create a report for auditors as proof of compliance and help devise plans to bolster security in those areas.

Red Teaming

It’s important to know why your organisation may have been targeted and where your weaknesses lie, in order to protect against cyber-attacks. In helping to achieve this, a Red Teaming exercise is crucial.

This is a targeted, objective-led exercise designed to identify weaknesses in your organisation’s cyber and physical defences. Looking to play cyber criminals at their own game, Red Teamers simulate real-world criminal attacks based on scenarios tailored to your organisation. This looks to test the resilience of your organisation, ability to prevent a hack and capacity to respond appropriately if an attack did occur.

The techniques used are tailored to your organisation. The type of attack techniques include: technical attacks of external and internal networks, email spear phishing attacks, vishing, open-source intelligence gathering (OSINT) and even a physical intrusion of the premises.

Falanx Red Teaming will identify your threats, assess your Cyber Resilience, identify weaknesses and change the culture and awareness throughout your businesses.

Find out more about Red Teaming and how it can benefit your organisation.

Download our free Red Teaming guide here.