Ethical hacking: how to prevent cyberattacks on your company | SEIDOR
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September 30, 2023

Ethical hacking: how to prevent cyberattacks on your company

Let's be honest. While some dictionaries include a positive definition of the term "hacker" as a "person with great computer skills who investigates a computer system to warn of faults and develop improvement techniques", the truth is that the collective imagination rather pictures something of a pirate. A hacker is typically viewed as someone who illegally accesses external computer systems to take control or obtain secret information.

Hacking: Flying the flag for ethics

Ethical hacking is the term used when IT security professionals have an organisation's permission to check their security. The objective of these tests is to check the network and the strengths and weaknesses of the systems, in order to improve the protection and information security.

In the ethical hacking process, the same practices and techniques employed by cybercriminals are used to break down the company's protective measures and access a network or team without their permission.

The aim is to anticipate the possible intentions of "bad" hackers, and to prevent them from fulfilling their objective of attacking the company and violating its security.

Different types of hackers

To differentiate these two types of hacking, we often refer to professionals as black hat hackers when their intentions are malicious. On the other hand, white hat hackers are those who have the approval of the organisation whose security they are trying to thwart.

Black hat and white hat hackers

The objectives and motivations of these two profiles are very different. While black hat hackers seek to break security, accessing accounts and data without permission in order to steal valuable data and enter restricted areas, white hat hackers aim to improve business' safety frameworks, facilitating the development of solid security structures, improving firewalls and ensuring that security systems are regularly updated.

There is also a third group of hackers, known as grey hat hackers. Halfway between authorised and unauthorised hackers, this type of professional is dedicated to exploiting vulnerabilities, but with the overall aim of increasing awareness about the issues. Unlike black hat hackers, there are no bad intentions here. But they are also less likely to follow an ethical code, as with the white hats.

Offensive hackers

Within the world of security, it is also pertinent to differentiate between various types of equipment. Thus, the so-called "red team" is formed of professionals working in an offensive capacity, often creating cyberattacks in order to assess the risk and vulnerabilities of a network or system, in a controlled environment. This red team examines the potential weaknesses of the security infrastructure, as well as physical sites and people.

Hackers who specialise in security

Finally, we find the "blue team" who work to defend security services. These hackers know the business objectives and the security strategy of the organisation they are working for. Their role is to collect data, document the areas that need protection, carry out risk assessments, and strengthen the defences to avoid breaches. They are usually responsible for boosting the company's security policies, such as suggesting stronger passwords, limiting access to the system, implementing supervisory tools, and educating staff members.

Finally, although they're not as common, there is also such thing as a "purple team". As their own name suggests, they are a mixture of the red and blue teams. In fact, it is their mission to ensure that both teams (red and blue) work closely to ensure that they feed back into each other and therefore further increase the safety of the organisation in general.

Why work with ethical hackers?

By behaving like a malicious attacker, working with ethical hackers allows you to anticipate potential incidents. You can also discover the real condition of the company's security and improve any points that may be easily corrupted.

Choosing to carry out this type of action can help a company to understand the vulnerabilities a hacker might spot, which of these are easily accessible by third parties without permission, and understand the potential scope of an attack.

With all this information, these attacks can be prevented from occurring by putting the right systems in place.

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