Ethical hacking is emerging as a viable career path for IT and security professionals in 2021. The alarming rate of cyber incidents has pushed private organizations and government agencies to strengthen their defenses against malicious hackers in recent years. According to a Ponemon Institute study, the cost of data breaches jumped from $3.86 million to $4.24 million in 2021.
The pandemic-induced remote work also adds to the high incidents of cyberattacks, augmenting the need for cyber experts to take stock of the situation. Additionally, the need for skilled cybersecurity specialists to combat cybercrime has paved the way for numerous ethical hacking jobs.
This article sheds light on the career scope and opportunities for ethical hackers in 2021 and discusses the skills one needs to acquire to start their ethical hacking journey,
Before we discuss the skill sets and requirements for an ethical hacker, let’s briefly understand ethical hacking concepts.
Understanding Ethical Hacking and Ethical Hackers
Ethical hacking is an authorized attempt to intrude an organization’s network and systems to identify potential threats before cybercriminals do. Ethical hackers perform penetration testing to discover the anomalies and vulnerabilities that could disrupt the operations. They think and act like black hat hackers in order to find the bugs and patch the flaws without malicious intent.
Cyberattacks can cost organizations millions. Therefore, many firms are investing in cybersecurity practices and experts. Hence, the time is ripe for IT, security, and even networking professionals who want to delve into cybersecurity and build a rewarding career.
So, if you have limited knowledge of ethical hacking and wish to kickstart your career as an ethical hacker, this guide can help broaden your horizon. This article highlights the skillsets and requirements you need to have to become an ethical hacker.
Why Should You Pursue a Career in Ethical Hacking
The scope of vulnerabilities and attacks expands as modern organizations adjust to digital transformations and embrace cloud technology. As a result, businesses require cybersecurity experts to protect their digital assets, and ethical hacking is one such field that is gaining momentum in the wake of recent cyberattacks. Let’s look at a few opportunities or benefits that ethical hacking has to offer:
- High Pay Scale and Career Scope
As previously mentioned, the new and complex sophisticated cyberattacks have prompted organizations to improve their security measures and invest in a cyber workforce. While the demand for cybersecurity specialists is rapidly increasing, there is also a severe talent drought. Therefore, there is a need to close the skills gap, and ethical hacking is a viable career opportunity, and the demand is only going to rise in the future. Gaining certifications as an ethical hacker also elevates the chances of landing a high-paying job. From government agencies to private firms, banks, institutions are hiring ethical hackers to fortify their defenses against malicious attacks. According to PayScale, the average salary of an ethical hacker is $80,000 per year, while a certified ethical hacker can earn an average salary of $94,000 per year.
- Diverse Employment Opportunities
After gaining advanced certifications or proficiency in ethical hacking, one can also set foot in other cybersecurity job roles. Ethical hackers are adept at network and system security, web and application security, pen testing, and others which make them eligible to also apply as a:
- Network administrator/manager
- Security investigator
- Penetration tester
- Web security administrator/manager
- Data security analyst/specialist
- IT security administrator/consultant/manager
- Job Satisfaction
As an ethical hacker, you will play an integral role in safeguarding an organization’s digital assets and devising security measures, and effectively implementing them. Enterprises are aware of the importance ethical hackers hold in safeguarding their data and assets. As a certified ethical hacker, you can either be a part of in-house teams or offer your services independently from anywhere. The benefits and importance associated with ethical hacking are enormous, contributing to elevated job status and satisfaction.
Quick Guide on How to Become an Ethical Hacker
1. Educational Requirements
There is no one formula for becoming an ethical hacker. If this field entices you, you need to plan your ethical hacking learning path as per the industry requirements. To be eligible for an ethical hacking role, one needs to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, or any subset of cybersecurity.
2. Acquire Fundamental and Essential Skills
An ethical hacker is a skilled pen tester as well. Ethical hackers need to demonstrate expertise in network security, web applications, networking databases, etc. Therefore, they need to have sound technical knowledge and understanding of operating systems, programming languages, networking, connectivity concepts, hacking tools, etc. Ethical hackers employ offensive techniques or measures to assess the security of an organization. Therefore, aspiring ethical hackers can acquire the following skills to learn how to start hacking ethically:
- Networking skills
- Technical skills
- Programming skills
- Encryption (Cryptography) skills
- Knowledge about databases
- Quick problem-solving skills
- Effective communication skills
Apart from these, learning the fundamentals of ethical hacking, different types of ethical hackers, the difference between offensive and defensive security strategies are also crucial.
3. Getting Certified
While one can learn ethical hacking on their own, it is certainly not easy. You need to continuously upskill yourself with the latest technologies and tools as technology is rapidly evolving and the threat domain. You can learn and acquire the mentioned skills by enrolling in ethical hacking certifications that align with industry-specific requirements. Getting certified is the next step to advance your career further and earn lucrative benefits. EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) program is globally recognized and equips participants with the necessary skills to hone their craft. It’s one of the most challenging and sought-after ethical hacking certifications in the industry.
Why Should You Join EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH)
C|EH is a credible program and ANSI 17024 Compliant. A pioneer in setting a global standard for ethical hacking, C|EH is an apt program for learning the elements of ethical hacking in a structured environment. It’s also stated as a baseline certification on the U.S Department of Defense (DoD) 8570/8140 Directive, the British NCSC Intelligence Agency, and several others.
The C|EH program is curated by industry experts to train participants in the latest hacking tools and technologies that hackers use. They can also expand their knowledge in diverse areas such as footprinting, network scanning, system hacking, sniffing, session hijacking etc.
The accredited program also includes twenty-four incredible hacking challenges across four levels of complexity that cover eighteen attack vectors. This hacking challenge enables participants to deal with real-life scenarios in this field.
Once you get the C|EH certification, you can also be eligible to work in diverse areas. Some of the common job roles for C|EH are:
- Cyber Defense Analyst
- Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
- Cyber Security Analyst Level I and Level II
- Network Security Engineer
- Manual Ethical Hacker
- Senior Security Consultant
- And more
Cybersecurity is a thriving field, and the scope of ethical hacking looks favorable in 2021 and beyond. The demand for ethical hackers in any industry is steadily growing considering the cyberattacks. So, if you are keen on making your mark as an ethical hacker to protect your work data and assets, get certified as an ethical hacker.
20+ Job Roles | 10,000+ Job Openings | Avg. Salary of $93,000
Become a Certified Ethical Hacker.
- Who is eligible for the C|EH program?
Anybody with sound knowledge in computer and programming can learn this course. People who want to explore the world of penetration testing and combating cybercrime can take up this course.
- What is the relevant work experience needed to be an ethical hacker?
Some employers also expect you to have a certain level of related work experience in computer technology. As such, ethical hackers can initially assume a network defender, penetration tester, or systems analyst position.