What Are Ethical Hackers and Should You Hire One?

Hacker

The term ethical hackers might sound like an oxymoron, but more and more 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 attacking people, businesses, and government agencies with reckless abandon.

Cybercrime is reaching a zenith, and most of the broader digital community is still fumbling along like it’s 2005. Cybersecurity company BullGuard found that one in three small businesses are still using free, consumer-grade cybersecurity software to protect their companies.

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

Considering that hacking incidents against small businesses grew by 424% in 2020, it hopefully won’t take long for firms to wake up—especially when you consider that 60% of small businesses fold within three months of being attacked.

But are services like ‘ethical hacking’ essential, or are they snake oil for 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 are constantly trying to break into your fort and steal all of the belongings stored behind its walls. Some of these people are very creative and make a living out of trying to break into forts like yours.

The question is, 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 could 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 need to fix to protect your business. If they fail, then you’re doing something right.

Check out this video on ethical hacking:

Ethical Hacking In 8 Minutes | What Is Ethical Hacking? | 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 of these services just bells and whistles or something that your company actually needs?

Should My Business Invest in Ethical Hackers?

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

But if you’re new to the cybersecurity game, this should not be your first step.

Check out this video about how easy it is to get hacked:

This Is How Easy It Is To Get Hacked | VICE on HBO

Make sure you have all of your basic cybersecurity tenets covered first:

  • Have you invested in high-quality cybersecurity software?
  • Have you trained your employees to spot phishing emails and to create high-quality passwords?
  • Do you regularly check-up and update your software systems to incorporate the latest patches into vulnerabilities?
  • Do you have an action plan in place if your company is hacked?
  • Have you talked with a cybersecurity specialist to figure out the best plan for your business?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you should prioritize these steps before investing in an ethical hacker. But once you have check all of those boxes, a penetration tester will give you a fine-tuned extra layer of security.

They will help keep you one step ahead in the game, and in the rapidly-changing cybercrime landscape, that’s an invaluable asset.

At hacked.com, we offer comprehensive protection plans that are perfect for small businesses.

Each protection plan comes with a free consultation to help tailor our packages to suit your needs. If you have any questions about your small business’s cybersecurity, contact us at [email protected] or book a free consultation call today.

Featured image by DC Studio via Shutterstock.com

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Author:
Aaron Weaver is the Head of Content for Hacked.com. He has over 15 years of journalism experience. As a tech-savvy editor and researcher, he prides himself on journalistic integrity by providing cutting edge data backed by the latest science.

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