How to become an ethical hacker career path

What Is Ethical Hacking? Getting Started as an Ethical Hacker

Malicious cyberattack rates continue to increase worldwide, with 2021 breaking all previous records for zero-day hacking events (O’Neill, 2021). Hackers are not just getting better at breaking into systems and overcoming network security; they can also access systems in less time than ever before. So what’s the solution?

Many businesses choose to provide cybersecurity awareness training to entire teams within their organization. Another growing trend is for companies to hire cybersecurity professionals trained in ethical hacking to perform routine hack attempts, providing organizations with constant feedback on security weaknesses in their systems. Identifying and recommending how to rectify vulnerabilities in a network is one of the key functions of an ethical hacker.

What Does an Ethical Hacker Do?

Ethical hacking is the practice of making authorized attempts to hack someone’s network or private computer to see how easy or difficult it is to get in. In other words, ethical hacking is a real hacking attempt requested by a system owner to test said system’s strengths and weaknesses.

The intentions of ethical hackers (sometimes known as “white-hat” hackers) are the opposite of those of malicious (or “black-hat”) hackers, even though they employ the same techniques. Therefore, ethical hackers need to be highly skilled and stay up to date on the latest techniques used by malicious hackers to identify system vulnerabilities before cyberattackers do.

What Exactly Does Ethical Hacking Entail?

Ethical hackers use both automated and manual tools to gather information about a system before testing different areas they have identified as vulnerable to an attack. An ethical hacker’s tests involve attempts to hack a system through multiple attack vectors based on information they’ve gathered. These tests replicate how someone with malicious intent might try to access the system.

Ethical hackers look for vulnerabilities like security misconfigurations and broken or malfunctioning authentication systems. They might test whether a system is susceptible to injection attacks or even carry out denial-of-service (DoS) attacks in an attempt to locate the system’s vulnerable access points. Depending on their specific job role, an ethical hacker may also be involved in building new security infrastructure that addresses all of the relevant vulnerabilities they have identified and exploited in a network.

How to Earn an Ethical Hacking Certification

Different organizations and industries have varying needs when it comes to ethical hacking solutions for their network security. EC-Council offers ethical hacking courses and certification programs that cover top skills and concepts for today’s cybersecurity professionals.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH): The C|EH program teaches everything you need to know to legally hack into an organization’s networks and systems in a four-part course. Learn which modern exploit technologies hackers use for automated attacks, study nearly 20 emerging attack vectors, and test your skills in live, hands-on hacking challenges that get progressively more difficult as you advance. After earning your C|EH certification, you’ll be ready to work as an ethical hacker for an organization of any size.
  • C|EH (Master): This advanced-level certification is for those that already hold the C|EH certification. It is earned by passing two exams: the knowledge-based C|EH certification exam and the C|EH (Practical) hands-on challenge. Together, these exams—totaling 10 hours—will test your ability to apply ethical hacking concepts and techniques in real-world situations. Just as in real-life hacking, these scenarios have time limits, requiring you to be quick as well as skilled. Those who attain this certification are well-positioned to run an ethical hacking team within an organization and are eligible to compete for a spot on EC-Council’s prestigious Global Ethical Hacking Leaderboard.
In addition to the above two EC-Council certifications, ethical hacking professionals may also benefit from the Complete Mobile Ethical Hacking Course offered on CodeRed by EC-Council. While this course does not provide a certification, it provides valuable supplementary skills and knowledge for those who have already attained their C|EH certification through EC-Council or want to learn more about topics in mobile security.

Ready to Learn More About Ethical Hacking?

EC-Council is the top educational resource for all your cybersecurity needs, including professional, hands-on training in ethical hacking. For those who want to begin a career as an ethical hacking professional, the C|EH certification is the best option. For those who have already earned their C|EH certification and are ready for their next challenge, the C|EH (Master) will prepare you to advance in your career and verify your extensive knowledge to employers. Contact EC-Council today for more information on how our courses and certifications can help you advance to the next level in your professional cybersecurity career.


O’Neill, P. H. (2021, September 23). 2021 has broken the record for zero-day hacking attacks. MIT Technology Review.

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