How to Become a Penetration Tester?

Now is a good time to become a penetration tester, particularly with the high-profile security breaches that have been dominating the cybersecurity world. As cyberattacks are growing in sophistication and complexity, the chances of online businesses falling into the traps of cyber attackers are also increasing rapidly. This is why businesses need penetration testing.

The EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) program is the leading certification in the penetration testing industry. While certification is not mandatory to land a job in this field, the technicality of this position and the paucity of qualified professionals has increased the demand for certified security analysts. Still not sure you need the certification program? Read the article below!

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What is Penetration Testing?

A penetration test, pentest, pen test, or ethical hacking describes a legal, simulated cyberattack executed to analyze the security infrastructure of the business, including web-based applications, its users, and network, to detect the available vulnerabilities. This practice involves processes intentionally performed to detect security vulnerabilities so as to secure crucial data from hackers who can have unsanctioned access to the computer or network.

Penetration testing is normally applied to augment a WAF (web application firewall), particularly in the context of web application security. Penetration testers design these tests and tools to try to break into security-protected applications and networks to probe for vulnerabilities. Observations from the penetration test can be implemented to tweak your WAF security policies and repair identified weaknesses.

Are Penetration Testers in Demand?

There is a constant and growing demand for penetration testers. Companies employ penetration testers to improve their information security by detecting and correcting system weaknesses before unscrupulous hackers can exploit these weaknesses. This preventative measure lowers the companies’ risk of cyber-attacks, which can damage company finances and customer trust.

Based on the survey conducted by CybersecurityVentures.com, there is an estimated $6 trillion reach for cybercrime damage by 2021. With the intensive pieces of training needed for this role, it is extremely difficult for employers to find qualified or even certified security analysts that can fill the increasing amount of jobs.

Are Penetration Testers in Demand

Penetration testers often work in teams to create new tests simulating cybercrimes. These professionals may identify application vulnerabilities or assess the physical security of systems, servers, and network devices. Considering that there are alarmingly few IT security analysts and cybersecurity, this is one of the leading components that guide the appealing salaries for ECSA.

Also, the penetration service has been standardized by the General Services Administration (GSA) as a pre-vetted backed-up service. The purpose is to quickly respond to potential weaknesses (also referred to as vulnerabilities) and to prevent malicious actors before they have any effect on the United States governments.

Why Does Your Organization Need a Penetration Tester?

Having all the required security measures in place does not ensure that the IT infrastructure of the organization is immune to cyber risks. In fact, it prompts the alarming need for advanced security strategies. For a concrete defense mechanism, existing and future strategies should be regularly put to the test. Reasons why businesses need penetration testers are:

  • Reduce network downtime.
  • Uncover vulnerabilities before cybercriminals exploit them.
  • Initiate a highly efficient security measure.
  • Enable regulatory compliance.
  • Protect the company’s reputation and customer trust.

For more information about how penetration testing can help your career and organization, sign-up for our ECSA certification program today!

benefits of penetration testing

What Skills do You Need to
be a Penetration Tester?

The core duty of a penetration tester is to conduct security tests on computer systems, networks, and web-based applications. They also suggest specific security strategies and solutions aligned with company budgets and may also offer ongoing support as organizations implement these new security measures. Thus, to be a successful penetration tester, certain skills are essential.

Hard Skills

  • Networking (TCP/IP, cabling techniques)
  • Ethical hacking techniques
  • Open-source technologies – MySQL, Apache, etc.
  • Wireless protocols and devices
  • Web application architecture
  • Pentest tools – Specialized OS distributions (such as Kali Linux based on Debian, Backbox based on Ubuntu, WHAX based on Slackware, etc.)

and Software Frameworks (such as Metasploit Project, Nmap, OWASP ZAP, Nessus, Wireshark, etc.)

Soft Skills

  • Willingness to continue to learn
  • Team player
  • Public Speaking
  • Report Writing
  • Exceptional problem-solving skills
  • Being updated about the latest security threats.
What is the Average Salary of a Penetration Tester?

What is the Average Salary of a Penetration Tester?

Penetration tester salaries are on the high side. Payscale.com suggests that penetration tester salaries range from $57,0000-$134,000 based on the experience level of the IT security analyst.  Similarly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that information security analysts, as well as penetration testers, make an annual median salary of $95,510. The lowest 10 percent of these analysts earn $55,560, while the highest 10 percent earn over $153,090.

Several factors affect the earning capabilities of a penetration tester, especially experience, location, education, and qualifications. Employment for information security analysts is expected to grow 28 percent by 2026, which is much faster than average. Demand for qualified penetration testers will be extremely high because of the need to create new solutions to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive information and causing computer network problems.

The following are the average salaries listed based on locations:

Countries Average Salary for Penetration Tester
USA $84160
Malaysia RM 62,201
Germany €55,955
India ₹ 498,290
United Kingdom £38489
France € 40708
Italy € 27318
Brazil $99746
Canada C$72414
South Africa R288,522
Countries Average Salary for Penetration Tester
Israel ₪168000
Spain € 34762
Australia AU$89426
Mexico $122062
United Arab Emirates AED 207,300
Netherlands €50,199
Saudi Arabia SAR 168,994
New Zealand NZ$75,000
Switzerland 110,000 Fr.
singapore S$58,406

How to Become a Penetration Tester?

Step 1:
Get a Degree
Step 2:
Gain the Experience
Step 3:
Acquire the Necessary Skills
Step 4:
Get Certified

Step 1: Get a Degree

Professionals with relevant hacking skills and work experience do not always need specialized degrees to become penetration testers. However, many pen testing jobs require bachelor’s or master’s degrees in cybersecurity, computer science, or IT.

Computer science or IT degree programs provide fundamental technical skills in operating systems, programming languages, network tools, and computer hardware and software. Cybersecurity-focused programs also provide specialized coursework in cryptography, forensics, vulnerability analysis, and security frameworks and tools.

Step 2: Gain the Experience

Pen testing roles usually require 1-4 years of information security experience, while higher-level positions require 3-10 years’ experience related to vulnerability assessment or Network penetration testing. Lower-level penetration tester positions usually require 1-4 years’ prior work experience performing IT functions like system administration, security administration, network administration, or network engineering.

Due to the expertise required to hack into information systems, many penetration testing positions also need prior professional experience in penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, or information security.
Furthermore, recent graduates and professionals often use relevant internships or information technology (IT) support positions to qualify them for entry-level positions. Many degree programs include internship components, enabling students to network, gain mentors, and cultivate real-world information security skills.

Step 3: Acquire the Necessary Skills

To identify security problems, penetration testers need technical and analytical skills. To generate tools for breaking into security systems or creating new solutions, these professionals need creativity and problem-solving skills. Pen testers also need a comprehensive knowledge of computer security, including forensics, system analysis, and coding skills needed to break into networks.

Step 4: Get Certified

Aspiring penetration testers can acquire skills online through Penetration testing courses, and certification programs such as ECSA. In fact, many positions require certifications in addition to the penetration tester education and work experience prerequisites described above. Popular certifications required include offensive security certified professional, certified penetration tester, and certified expert penetration tester. Professional organizations, technology companies, and online schools offer several cybersecurity-related certification options, so take the time to research certification options carefully.

What is the Best
Penetration testing Certification?

Having the top certifications can help you easily penetrate this field. There are several certifications, but the best penetration testing certifications include:

ECSA – EC-Council Certified Security Analyst

The EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) program is the leading certification in the penetration testing industry. ECSA offers seamless learning progress, continuing where the CEH program left off. The EC-Council has established quite a lot of certification programs to ensure consistency and capability across the industry.

Unlike most other penetration-testing programs that only follow a generic kill chain methodology; the ECSA presents a set of distinguishable comprehensive methodologies that are able to cover different pen testing requirements across different verticals.

The ECSA penetration testing course provides you with a real-world hands-on Pen testing experience. It is a globally accepted hacking and penetration testing class that covers the testing of modern infrastructures, operating systems, and application environments while teaching the students how to document and write a penetration testing report. Click here to learn more about ECSA certifications.
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CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker Certification

The C|EH credential certifies security officers, site administrators, auditors, cybersecurity professionals, and other cybersecurity enthusiasts in the specific network security discipline of Ethical Hacking from a vendor-neutral perspective. The EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) program is the most comprehensive ethical hacking course on the globe, designed to help information security professionals grasp the fundamentals of ethical hacking.

The CEH course helps you assess the security posture of an organization by identifying vulnerabilities in the network and system infrastructure to determine if unauthorized access is possible. For more details on the C|EH program, visit the course page.

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LPT – Licensed Penetration tester (Master)

The Licensed Penetration tester (L|PT) is the most advanced credential provided by the EC-Council. LPT Master is a whopping 18-hour long, rigorous practical exam that constitutes the hardest challenges, simulating the real-world environment. People who qualify for this certificate are naturally perceived as experts in this industry.

The exam imitates an organization’s network with multiple network segments, access control policies, firewalls, Demilitarized Zones (DMZ), and various layers of security. The participant needs to ace this exam within the specified time limit. Since L|PT (Master) is intended for the experts in the industry, it is famous for validating the skills of a penetration tester. For more details on the LPT (Master) program, visit the course page.

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