Ethical Hacker

Don’t learn to hack, hack to learn – that’s the general motto of any ‘white hat’ or ethical hacker as they are otherwise known. Nearly all private information is now held on computers around the world so its vital secure systems are in place to prevent criminals from accessing it.

An ethical hacker is a computer expert that performs penetration or intrusion testing in order to find flaws or holes in an existing computer system and then recommends improvements. The idea is to make systems safer and more secure against cyber attacks. ‘White hats’ are the good guys (the name comes from western films where the good cowboys wore white hats and the bad ones wore black) and will often work freelance on behalf of large corporations or governments.
To be an ethical hacker you clearly need to be a computer expert first. Some people will go to university to gain these skills by studying a degree in computer science or network engineering, whereas others have often started out hacking as a hobby before transferring their skills into a paid consultancy role. This is one job where your natural ability is often more important than what school you attended. Having said that, you can now study a dedicated course in ethical hacking and obtain a qualification as a certified ethical hacker. The most respected of all qualifications is the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC Council) Ethical Hacker Certification. To get qualified you will need to pass a series of exams together with practical experience learned in the role. Once qualified you will also need to continuously re-train as technology moves on and new techniques are developed.
The interest in this field has grown substantially in recent years, as has the potential threat from cyber criminals. For the talented, it can also prove to be an extremely lucrative career as banks, governments and large corporations are willing to pay large sums of money in order to stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals. Currently, the average wage for an ethical hacker is $70,000 (£44,000) but it’s not uncommon for the top guys and specialists to command figures in excess of $150,000. What price would a bank put on protecting its financial data?
So if you’re looking for an interesting job in IT and see yourself as a cyber crime fighter working hard to protect the world from potentially crippling cyber attacks, consider a career in ethical hacking.


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