What Are Ethical Hackers, and Should You Hire One?

The term ethical hackers might sound like an oxymoron, but increasingly, businesses view them as a valuable part of the cybersecurity ecosystem. As we’ve seen over the past few years, hacking incidents have been steadily rising.

Then the pandemic hit.

That’s when the hacking community shifted into warp speed and began aggressively attacking people, businesses, and government agencies.

Cybercrime is reaching a zenith, and most of the broader digital community is still fumbling. BullGuard found that one in three small businesses still uses free, consumer-grade cybersecurity software to protect their companies.

Small businesses aren’t doing enough to protect themselves. | Source: Twitter

But are services like ‘ethical hacking’ essential, or are they snake oil for the digitally challenged? Let’s take a deeper look.

What Are Ethical Hackers?

Imagine that your most valuable assets are located within a physical fort. Strangers constantly try to break into your fort and steal all belongings behind its walls. Some of these people are creative and make a living by attempting to break into forts like yours.

If one of these people decided they no longer wanted to live a life of crime, would you hire them to try and infiltrate your fort on purpose? They could locate the fort’s weaknesses and allow you to fix them before the criminals break in.

Welcome to the world of ethical hacking.

Also known as penetration testers or white hat hackers, ethical hackers are paid to break into your company’s devices and networks. If they succeed, they can tell you exactly what you must fix to protect your business. If they fail, then you’re doing something right.

Check out this video on ethical hacking:

What Is Ethical Hacking? | Ethical Hacking In 8 Minutes | Ethical Hacking Explanation | Simplilearn

Ethical hackers can theoretically supply your company with all kinds of valuable information.

They can test the efficacy of your cybersecurity software. They can reveal whether or not your team would even be aware of an attack. And they can even try to trick your employees with social engineering and phishing attempts.

But are all these services just bells and whistles or something your company needs?

Should My Business Invest in Ethical Hackers?

As you may have guessed, the answer to this question depends on many factors. Investing in an ethical hacker is a great idea if your company is large enough and you feel it might be targeted in attacks.

The difference between an Ethical Hacker and a Malicious one

Ethical and malicious hackers (or posers) diverge significantly in terms of their intentions and the lawfulness of their actions. Ethical hackers are professional individuals or entities employed to identify and rectify security vulnerabilities in systems and networks, operating under explicit legal agreements and following strict ethical guidelines. Their work is sanctioned by their organizations, aiming at bolstering security and ensuring data protection. On the other hand, malicious hackers or scammers exploit similar vulnerabilities for unlawful, malicious purposes such as data theft, financial fraud, or spreading malware. Unlike ethical hackers, their actions are unauthorized and illegal, causing harm and potentially significant financial and reputational damage to individuals and organizations alike. That’s why we don’t recommend hiring a hacker if you’ve been hacked.

Featured image by DC Studio via Shutterstock.com