What you need to know about becoming an Ethical Hacker

14 August 2020
what is an ethical hacker

Cyber security and ethical hacking skills are in high demand. As companies switch to an entirely remote way of working in the wake of COVID-19, cyber criminals are devising new ways to take advantage of vulnerabilities in networks, apps, and even social media platforms.

You’ll be pleased to know that a recent study showed Network Administrators could increase their pay by 54% by joining the cyber security industry.

There’s never been a better time to join the industry.

Whether you’re an IT professional or not, in order to become a certified ethical hacker, you’ll have to undertake training and sit an exam.

In this article we will answer your questions about ethical hacking and what you need to know about becoming an ethical hacker.

When you hear the word ‘hacker’, the first image that likely springs to mind is that of the ‘TV hacker’ – an underground criminal breaking into computer systems to wreak havoc on society.

These exaggerated images of hackers hammering away at their keyboards are inspired by real-world criminal activities. In reality, it’s much less glamorous.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is a professional career in the cyber security sector. It is an important aspect to modern risk management within an organisation.

An ethical hacker aims to stay two steps ahead of criminal hackers. Banks, financial institutions, and all sorts of companies employ ethical hackers to identify vulnerabilities and ultimately make their IT systems more secure.

Hey, if an ethical hacker can hack it, then a criminal one can! As we put it, “To beat a hacker, you need to think like a hacker.”

Typically, those employed in this field attempt to reverse engineer different forms of cyber-attacks on company infrastructure, with the aim of preventing and deterring criminal activity.

Ethical hackers also undertake security reviews, audits, provide analysis, write reports, look for vulnerabilities in software and even provide training to staff.

What knowledge do professional ethical hackers need?

In order to become a professional ethical hacker, either as a contractor or working for a company, you’ll need to have strong information technology skills and have methodical problem-solving skills.

You will also need:

  • Knowledge of different consumer and commercial operating systems
  • Strong coding knowledge in different programming languages
  • A good understanding of cyber security principles
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Understanding of the software development lifecycle
  • Networking infrastructure and administration
  • A commitment to continuous learning and improvement

However, you do not need a degree or other formal qualifications before training to become an ethical hacker.

Many cyber security experts and certified ethical hackers currently employed in the industry do not have a formal education.

Is Ethical Hacking the same as Pen Testing?

Not exactly, however, there are some noticeable similarities.

There is a thin line between ethical hacking and pen testing, according to cyber security professionals. It’s not uncommon to hear the terms used interchangeably.

Pen testing could be viewed as an offshoot of ethical hacking. It is a more concentrated and defined aspect of cyber security.

Ethical hacking, on the other hand is a wider term to include all forms of hacking with the intent of improving systems and procedures, while ultimately aiming to make them more secure and deter criminal hackers from gaining access.

How much do Ethical Hackers earn?

A recent study by EC-Council shows that Network Administrators could increase their pay by 54% by joining the cyber security industry.

In the UK, Certified Ethical Hackers can expect to earn from £54,000 per year. Freelancer ethical hackers or contractors can expect to earn between £450-£550 per day.

Currently, ethical hackers are in extremely high demand, so employers are offering attractive salary packages and benefits to those with the right skills and experience.

What Qualifications do you need to become an ethical hacker?

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) program provides a broad foundation to all cyber security professionals, beyond penetration testing. 

During the CEH ethical hacking course, you will learn:

  1. The background and history of cyber security and notable cyber attacks as well as the current and future landscape
  2. How to analyse and provide a professional assessment of different networks and systems
  3. Different security measures to protect systems, e.g. Web Application Firewalls, cryptography and other preventative measures
  4. Different types of cyber-attacks, including social engineering, application vulnerabilities, SQL injections and malware.
  5. About the different tools, programmes and systems used within the industry
  6. The procedures and methodology involved in ethical hacking
  7. Regulation within the industry
  8. Ethics and values

See the full list of Ethical Hacker Certification Modules covered during the course.

Despite this list being a broad overview, the course in fact extremely in-depth and these topics are explored in detail.

You must sit an exam after completing the course, which you can complete at home with the exam digitally monitored by an invigilator.

How much does is cost to become an ethical hacker?

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH V10) course currently costs £1,495.00+VAT.

It is a self-study Certified Ethical Hacker program that is widely respected and provides an interactive learning opportunity.

After enrolment, all of the course materials are available via an online portal.

Want to know more? Learn more about the CEH V10 Course here.

Is CEH Recognised in the UK?

Yes, CEH is recognised in the UK. In fact, it is recognised all over the world.

Just try searching for ‘CEH’ on popular recruitment sites like Indeed or Jobsite. You’ll see nationwide vacancies for:

  • IT Security Analysts
  • Penetration testers
  • Security Engineers
  • Auditors
  • System Administrators

…all of which list the Certified Ethical Hacker qualification as ‘essential’ criteria.

It is accredited by ANSI and recognized by DoD 8570 and GCT.

Applying for jobs as an Ethical Hacker

Penetration testing represents a small (albeit vocal) percentage of all cyber security jobs. Penetration testing certainly garners the most attention in cyber security, but it is far from the largest pool of job openings.

As an applicant, you should also aim to apply for job roles such as:

  • Infrastructure manager
  • Network administrator
  • Security analyst
  • Information security officer
  • Computer forensics analyst
  • Vulnerability tester
  • Project manager

Search for various UK-based Ethical Hacker jobs here.

So you’re a certified Ethical Hacker, what next?

All jobs in the cyber security and wider IT sector involve continuous professional development, which is even more important when working with technology due to its everchanging nature.

New cyber threats are always emerging and the industry needs keen analytical problem-solvers to look for solutions.

Manufacturers are releasing new devices with shiny features, whereas criminals are looking for ways to exploit them. As a certified ethical hacker, it is your job to stay informed about these emerging threats and learn how to protect against them.

Once you’re certified, your learning journey isn’t over as you’ll continue to learn more with professional experience.

Related: Explore and learn about the dark web in a safe environment

Where to learn more

Your first step to becoming a certified ethical hacker is to sign-up for the training programme.

If you need more information, download the CEH V10 brochure, or get in touch with us for a discussion about the course and our advisors will be happy to help.

We also provide access to dedicated mentor who will be able to answer any queries during your course, so you won’t be alone!