Ethical Hackers in High Demand
Career Path : Computers and Technology
Hacking is a computer skill that can be used for good or evil. As increasingly valuable information becomes stored on the internet, the security of websites, networks and email accounts are of top concern. Notorious hackers have attacked all types of businesses and often set their sights on government targets. Sometimes those who have perpetrated some of the craziest crimes find themselves with a steady stream of job offers, at least after serving time in prison. The U.S. government is just one organization involved in highly publicized attempts to attract “ethical hackers” or “white hats” to increase the safety of their networks.
Ethical hacking, or penetration testing, simulates the attacks that criminal hackers could carry out on a network so that security can be heightened to prevent them. Hackers seek security loopholes in computer networks to steal confidential information, spread viruses, intercept critical data, add or delete data, or cause general damage or website defacement. Ethical hackers try to find these potential security breaches first to report and provide solutions to the owners. Information technology (IT) skills, including CISSP, CEH, and various programming languages and security protocols are often in demand for this occupation.
Defcon, an annual hacker convention in Las Vegas, has been increasingly attracting the attention of all types of employers, such as the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA conducts electronic eavesdropping on enemies of the state and protects government networks holding top secret material. It has been trying to encourage this skill development and promote recruitment for the next cyber warriors by holding its own high school contest in which participants learn how to identify security vulnerabilities and perform real-world attacks. Adding an offensive angle to the defense brings a heightened level of excitement to the mission. Spokespeople say “computer security isn’t growing fast enough to keep up with all the threats.” A hacking group believed to be sponsored by the Chinese government was already caught stealing reams of secret information from the Pentagon and the U.S. feds have since been more proactive in luring ethical hackers.
When the nature of the job has legal ramifications, it is not always an easy field to get into. New training programs have developed to create exercises that expose students to real-world hacking scenarios, often recreating infamous cyberattacks to understand how hackers could access computers and infiltrate networks. Some companies stage “bug bounty” programs, giving prizes to those who can expose flaws in their software in controlled situations. Several educational institutions are now offering computer courses that go beyond the basics of IT network security to include password cracking, session hijacking, denial-of-service attacks, exploiting buffer overflow vulnerabilities and SQL injection.
It is clear with so much depending on the integrity of online information, ethical hacking is one skill you will be sure to see more of in future offerings from a computer college.
Visit Oulton College for more information on web design courses.