Through the years, the police and other investigating authorities have mobilized undercover agents to take down big syndicates and notorious criminals. After all, what better way to learn how criminals behave and do heinous crimes better than putting someone you trust in the front lines?
This principle of acquiring insider information has long been used for effective law enforcement. Now, it has the potential to change your organization’s cybersecurity for the better.
Called “ethical hackers,” the people who work as undercover agents in the digital world are skilled in breaching defences for the purpose of helping these improve. While the term ethical hacking is an oxymoron in itself, the job entails a more noble cause – to use talent and skills in hacking to identify vulnerabilities in an organization’s security and find ways to patch them up.
This article covers the basic roles of an ethical hacker and the reasons why you should consider hiring one for your organization.
Who is an ethical hacker?
Also known as “white hat” hackers, ethical hackers are skilled and respected in the art of discovering vulnerabilities in a system. They handle the job better and have a more responsible reputation compared to script kiddies, who only unearth holes in cybersecurity accidentally. They have earned the public’s trust because of their clean slate and are certified in their profession to solidify their credibility even more.
Instead of causing harm and earning money illegally, ethical hackers use their hacking skills for the benefit of society. They offer their services to help organizations establish a better, more secure system that stands a better chance at weathering even the most sophisticated hacking techniques.
Why hire an ethical hacker? Top 4 reasons
Most companies and public entities entrust their systems in an in-house IT department. Most – if not all – members of this department are competent and dedicated to protecting the company’s digital assets, so it is expected that you would wonder why you need other people to do the job.
Keep in mind that, while IT professionals can help set up and upgrade your system to make it more difficult to penetrate from the outside, you can never determine the extent of its security unless someone actually tries to crack it. This is where white hat hackers can be helpful.
Thanks to the combination of their skills, training, experience, and knowledge, and out-of-the-box thinking, this type of hacker can work to find holes in your security measures with the ultimate goal of helping the organization strengthen its defences.
Beyond that, here are the top four reasons why your organization should hire an ethical hacker now:
1. Help the organization undergo a cyberattack drill
As mentioned earlier, ethical hackers help determine the extent of a system’s security and pinpoint potential weak points within it. To be more specific, white hat hackers put the firm’s defences to the test to determine the attacks it can and cannot withstand. It serves as a sort of drill to prepare your organization for the real deal.
Remember that most IT security focuses on playing defence against threats that have been made public in the past. They also perform updates to cope with constant changes being made to malware and virus definitions to ensure that the system stays safe. However, they don’t usually employ offensive tactics against malicious and illegal breaches.
Since hackers are certified, they can also offer assurance that the methods they use will work in improving your defences even before the need arises.
2. Limit liability
When working with crucial clientele data, the risk of a data breach can be scary and disastrous. This is because of the liability you will be faced once a breach does occur.
When you hire an ethical hacker, you get to limit your exposure to data security liability. This is because the mere act of seeking someone to perform vulnerabilities testing shows the extent of your commitment to maintaining a secure network or system. And, of course, it reduces the risk of a breach ever happening greatly.
3. Aid in coming up with attack detection notices
Like living things, the dark web is also evolving. Today, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, some of which can even surpass standard security protocols that have been developed over the years.
One way you can get ahead of these changes is by coming up with a smart detection system. Lucky for you, a white hat hacker can help define detection rules that not only raise alarms when a breach occurs but also plays offence against the attacker to defend your system.
Remember that, in times of an attack, it is better to have someone on-board who’ve thought about how to perform such an act to ensure that effective defences are in place.
4. Help maintain organizational credibility
Ethical hackers can also help an organization maintain its credibility, even amidst an attack. Keep in mind that a breach in data security can mar your reputation and cause customers’ and partners’ trust levels to drop. Give your clients the peace of mind they need by showing them your commitment to keeping critical information safe.
A final word
With the age of the Internet and digital content already at its peak, ethical hacking has become a crucial part of system security. Make sure that your organization stays safe from malicious cyberattacks with the help of a white hat hacker. Know the importance of the job as explained in this article, and learn more about ethical hacking during the CyberWeek in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran (@l33tdawg on Twitter) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hack in The Box (http://www.hitb.org), organiser of the HITBSecConf series of network security conferences which has been held annually for over a decade in various countries including Malaysia, The Netherlands and the UAE.