Basics of Ethical Hacking
What is Hacking?
Hacking is gaining unauthorized access to a system. Hackers do that through many strategies, that chiefly represent 2 categories: exploiting security
vulnerabilities or weaknesses within the target system and exploiting the system users through social engineering. thus hacking will embrace each technical
strategies and social engineering techniques — within which a hacker uses psychology to trick human users into a gap malicious computer code or providing key
Information. In several cases, hacking involves a mixture of the two. Hacking are often legal or black-market, betting on the hacker’s motivations and whether or not they have permission from the device owner to hack it. Either way, hacking into a tool is often thought of “unauthorized” access, merely that means that the hacker gained access to the system through unwitting channels.Illegal hacking is once an individual uses hacking for a malicious purpose, like to gather steer, compromise an organization’s success, or hold information for ransom as a way of economic gain. Legal hacking, conjointly called penetration testing or moral hacking is once firms rent an individual to purposefully hack into their computer systems as the simplest way of showing any existing vulnerabilities and production solutions to form the systems safer. An ethical hacker’s job is to combat and forestall malicious hackers from lawlessly accessing a company’s systems.
What is ethical hacking?
Ethical hacking is that the method wherever an expert hacker legally and deliberately tries to interrupt into the computers and devices of a corporation. In doing so, ethical hackers will take a look at the organization’s defenses, light any vulnerabilities in their systems and networks. Of course, it’s an in depth and sometimes complicated method, with many various parts to contemplate. An Ethical hacker, typically called a white-hat hacker, can seek for weaknesses in a very form of alternative ways. They’ll conjointly perform a spread of alternative tasks connected to general cyber security. this may include:
Gathering intelligence concerning entry points
Scanning infrastructures to identify weaknesses
Accessing systems/networks and exploiting vulnerabilities
Hiding their access and evading detection
Compiling reports and analysis for the attempts
What are the key concepts of ethical hacking?
Hacking experts follow four key protocol concepts:
Stay legal. Acquire correct approval before accessing and playacting a security assessment.
Define the scope. Confirm the scope of the assessment so the Ethical hacker’s work remains legal and among the organization’s approved boundaries.
Report vulnerabilities. Inform the organization of all vulnerabilities discovered throughout the assessment. offer redress recommendation for resolving these vulnerabilities.
Respect data sensitivity. Reckoning on the info sensitivity, Ethical hackers might have to be compelled to comply with a non-disclosure agreement, additionally to different terms and conditions needed by the assessed organization
How are ethical hackers different from malicious hackers?
Ethical hackers use their knowledge to secure and improve the technology of organizations. They provide an essential service to these organizations by looking
for vulnerabilities that can lead to a security breach. An ethical hacker reports the identified vulnerabilities to the organization. Additionally, they provide remediation advice. In many cases, with the organization’s consent, the ethical hacker performs a re-test to ensure the vulnerabilities are fully resolved.
Malicious hackers intend to gain unauthorized access to a resource for financial gain or personal recognition. Some malicious hackers deface websites or crash back-end servers for fun, reputation damage, or to cause financial loss. The methods used and vulnerabilities found remain unreported. They aren’t concerned with improving the organization’s security posture.
What problems does hacking identify?
While assessing the safety of associate organization’s IT assets, Ethical hacking aims to mimic attacker. In doing so, they give the impression of being for attack vectors against the target. The initial goal is to perform intelligence, gaining the maximum amount info as potential.
Once the ethical hacker gathers enough info, they use it to appear for vulnerabilities against the asset. They perform this assessment with a mix of machine-controlled and manual testing. Even subtle systems might have complicated step technologies which can be vulnerable.
Some of the most common vulnerabilities discovered by ethical hackers include:
Use of components with known vulnerabilities
Sensitive data exposure
Phases of Ethical Hacking
An attacker or an ethical hacker follows the same five-step hacking process to breach the network or system. The ethical hacking process begins with looking for various ways to hack into the system, exploiting vulnerabilities, maintaining steady access to the system, and lastly, clearing one’s tracks.
The five phases of ethical hacking are:
First in the ethical hacking methodology steps is reconnaissance, also known as the footprint or information gathering phase. The goal of this preparatory phase is to collect as much information as possible. Before launching an attack, the attacker collects all the necessary information about the target. The data is likely to contain passwords, essential details of employees, etc. Reconnaissance is an essential phase of ethical hacking. It helps identify which attacks can be launched and how likely the organization’s systems fall vulnerable to those attacks.
Footprinting collects data from areas such as:
TCP and UDP services
Through specific IP addresses
Host of a network
In ethical hacking, foot printing is of two types:
Active: This foot printing method involves gathering information from the target directly using Nmap tools to scan the target’s network.
Passive: The second foot printing method is collecting information without directly accessing the target in any way. Attackers or ethical hackers can collect the report through social media accounts, public websites, etc.
The second step in the hacking methodology is scanning, where attackers try to find different ways to gain the target’s information. The attacker looks for information such as user accounts, credentials, IP addresses, etc. This step of ethical hacking involves finding easy and quick ways to access the network and skim for information. Tools such as dialers, port scanners, network mappers, sweepers, and vulnerability scanners are used in the scanning phase to scan data and records. In ethical hacking methodology, four different types of scanning practices are used, they are as follows:
Vulnerability Scanning: This scanning practice targets the vulnerabilities and weak points of a target and tries various ways to exploit those weaknesses. It is conducted using automated tools such as Netsparker, OpenVAS, Nmap, etc.
Port Scanning: This involves using port scanners, dialers, and other data-gathering tools or software to listen to open TCP and UDP ports, running services, live systems on the target host. Penetration testers or attackers use this scanning to find open doors to access an organization’s systems.
Network Scanning: This practice is used to detect active devices on a network and find ways to exploit a network. It could be an organizational network where all employee systems are connected to a single network. Ethical hackers use network scanning to strengthen a company’s network by identifying vulnerabilities and opening doors.
The next step in hacking is where an attacker uses all means to get unauthorized access to the target’s systems, applications, or networks. An attacker can use various tools and methods to gain access and enter a system. This hacking phase attempts to get into the system and exploit the system by downloading malicious software or application, stealing sensitive information, getting unauthorized access, asking for ransom, etc. Metasploit is one of the most common tools used to gain access, and social engineering is a widely used attack to exploit a target.
Ethical hackers and penetration testers can secure potential entry points, ensure all systems and applications are password-protected, and secure the network infrastructure using a firewall. They can send fake social engineering emails to the employees and identify which employee is likely to fall victim to cyber attacks.
Once the attacker manages to access the target’s system, they try their best to maintain that access. In this stage, the hacker continuously exploits the system,
launches DDoS attacks, uses the hijacked system as a launching pad, or steals the entire database. A backdoor and Trojan are tools used to exploit a vulnerable
system and steal credentials, essential records, and more. In this phase, the attacker aims to maintain their unauthorized access until they complete their malicious activities without the user finding out.
Ethical hackers or penetration testers can utilize this phase by scanning the entire organization’s infrastructure to get hold of malicious activities and find their root cause to avoid the systems from being exploited.
The last phase of ethical hacking requires hackers to clear their track as no attacker wants to get caught. This step ensures that the attackers leave no clues or evidence behind that could be traced back. It is crucial as ethical hackers need to maintain their connection in the system without getting identified by incident response or the forensics team. It includes editing, corrupting, or deleting logs or registry values. The attacker also deletes or uninstalls folders, applications, and software or ensures that the changed files are traced back to their original value.
Ethical hackers can use the following ways to erase their tracks:
Using reverse HTTP Shells
Deleting cache and history to erase the digital footprint
Using ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) Tunnels
Types of Ethical hacking
Below are some of the most common types of Ethical hacking:
Web application hacking. Web applications are shared over a network (such as the internet or an intranet) and are sometimes browser–based. Although convenient, they can be vulnerable to scripting attacks, and ethical hackers test such weaknesses.
Web server hacking. Web servers run operating systems and applications that host web pages and connect to back–end databases. There are potential weak points at each point of this process, which ethical hackers must test, identify, and recommend fixes.
Wireless network hacking. We’re all familiar with wireless networks – a group of computers that are wirelessly connected to a central access point. However, with this convenience comes a variety of potential security flaws that white–hat hackers must look for.
System hacking. Accessing a secure network is one thing, but system hacking focuses on gaining access to individual computers on a network. Ethical hackers will try and do precisely this while also suggesting appropriate countermeasures.
Social engineering. While the other methods focus on accessing information through computers, systems and networks, social engineering targets individuals. Often, this means manipulating people to hand over sensitive data or provide access without them suspecting ill intent.
Types of Hackers
Black Hat Hackers
They are experienced hackers who break into a system without authorization. They exploit a system’s security with malicious intent or for financial gains. Black
hat hackers usually work with threat groups or organized crime groups. They are also known as crackers. Besides, they may also infect the system with malware to steal personal data, credit card information, corrupt files, and disrupt the security network.
White Hat Hackers (Ethical Hackers)
In comparison to black hats, White Hat Hackers are considered good Samaritans who work for enterprises to improve network and system security. They may also aid law enforcement authorities in investigations for cybercrimes. Also known as ethical hackers, they have the skill set needed to test security systems for
potential risks before malicious hackers do.
Ethical hackers secure a company’s information and security networks and hunt for backdoors legally. They identify and report the weak links or possible threats in the security system to prevent cyber threats.
Grey Hat Hackers
A grey hat hacker performs similar actions as both white hats and black hats. They look for threats and weaknesses in security networks but often without malicious intent. They sometimes need to work incognito and break the law to gain unauthorized access to systems to aid in the investigation. Like white hat hackers, grey hat hackers detect weak links and notify the organization or administrator of potential vulnerabilities in the system in exchange for a small fee. They also hack into systems to report any flaws or vulnerabilities to law enforcement or intelligence organizations. So, grey hats fall somewhere between white hats and black hats.
Common Hacking Tools
Hackers often use several techniques to achieve their purpose. In order to understand the risks and think like the black hats, ethical hackers must be aware of the popular tools and techniques they use. Some of the common hacking tools include:
A rootkit is software that allows cybercriminals to gain access to your computer, and you may not even know it. Hackers gain remote access by either stealing your passwords or infecting your system through phishing attacks. The original purpose of rootkits was to detect and rectify software flaws. However, hackers use this software or application for stealing important data by gaining unauthorized access to an operating system. Rootkits work at the operating system level and can access most of your computer’s functions and take complete control.
Keyloggers are malware or spyware that monitors or records the sensitive information you type on your keyboard. While most of us may think that entering information on the keyboard is safe from hackers, a keylogger attack can prove otherwise. It considers or records every keystroke. The recorded log file is subsequently saved, containing information such as usernames, website visit details, screenshots, passwords, phone numbers, OTPs, login details, credit card numbers opened programs and everything you type on the keyboard.
A vulnerability scanner is an automated program or software to identify potential security flaws or weaknesses by monitoring networks and applications. With the rise in cyber attacks, a vulnerability scanner is an effective IT strategy to patch weak security links. This tool also tries to identify operational characteristics such as the operating system and software installed on each asset. A vulnerability scanner categorizes and detects numerous system flaws in networks, computers, and communication systems, among other things.
Common Hacking Techniques
SQL Injection Attack
The Structured Query Language is a query language that exploits and extracts information from a database with the help of SQL commands. This type of attack uses a website interface to hack users, passwords, and other sensitive information.
SQL injection attacks are common in poorly designed applications and websites. Since they contain vulnerable user–input fields that hackers can easily hack by
changing the scripts. SQL injection attack is a severe threat and one of the major attack vectors that hackers use. It can easily infect or exploit any website that uses a SQL–based database.
Distributed Denial–of–Service (DDoS)
DDoS is a disruptive cyber attack that floods the network by distorting normal traffic entering a server. It inflicts intended traffic congestion to the server and is a dangerous attempt to overwhelm the network. Computers, IoT (Internet of Things) devices, mobile phones, and other devices that are easily connected to the network are vulnerable to DDoS. In fact, hacked devices can be manipulated to take part in the DDoS attack (as bots) without the owners’ knowledge.