An old saying goes ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’ And this cliché may very well apply to cybercriminal masterminds. These hackers, who are getting more sophisticated by the minute, will do anything to compromise networks, steal data, and commit identity fraud, all in the name of cybercrime. Some say that the only way to beat a hacker is to become a hacker. This is where ethical hacking comes into play.


Ethical hacking, also called penetration testing, is the authorized exploitation of an IT system or network to determine its vulnerabilities and weak points. It is an effective way of testing and validating the cyber security status and IT integrity of your business. To combat this cyber onslaught, individuals, companies and organizations are increasingly testing their own IT networks with hardware and software designed to find holes in their IT security which can then be fixed.


Hackers come in many shapes and sizes. On one end of the spectrum, you have the seemingly harmless cybercrook who simply wants to get up to some criminal mischief by infiltrating a computer or IT system, nothing more. Then there are those who aren’t hacking for the fun of it. Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) are specialized teams of highly skilled hackers that execute cyber warfare. An APT is typically a country or a country-sponsored group that gains unauthorized access to a network or IT infrastructure, remaining undetected for a prolonged period.


The name of the game of cyber warfare is not difficult to identify – to undermine the enemy and not get caught. Cybercriminals from many nations, including the United States, the UK, Russia, India, China, and North Korea, use stealth hacking to compromise networks, steal data, and commit identify theft. The attacks are often termed ‘low and slow’ and hacking often goes unnoticed. All the while, data is being stolen and these persistent hackers are becoming increasingly difficult to identify and even harder to attribute. And these hackers aren’t selective. It doesn’t matter whether you are IBM or the corner shop chippie, they are coming for you.


Legally breaking in an organization’s computer network is fast becoming one of the most exiting and sought-after jobs in IT. Put simply, you are getting paid to keep up with the latest advances in technology, break into computers, and not get arrested in the process. Ethical hacking is a true win-win proponent. When an ethical hacker hacks past current defenses, they give a client the opportunity to close the hole before it is discovered by a real hacker. If nothing ominous is discovered, then all the better. A client is able to claim that their IT systems are so secure that even a paid, high-skilled hacker couldn’t break it.


I have over 20 years’ experience in numerous IT functions from an operational perspective with strong focus on risk mitigation and cybersecurity. Recently, I co-authored 2 books, Cybersecurity NOW and Adapt and Overcome, both focusing on the need for appropriate cybersecurity strategies in our increasingly digital world. And believe me, besides writing about IT and helping people secure it, nothing could be more exciting and challenging than ethical hacking or penetration testing. If you are an individual or business who would like to secure your IT using pen testing, then contact me. If you are an IT geek who would like to acquire an aura of extra coolness that comes from everyone knowing that you can break into almost any computer at will, then contact me. Let me be your ethical hacking advisor.

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