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What is ethical hacking?

What makes a hacker ethical, and why do we need them?
As mentioned already, more and more of our personal lives are moving into the digital systems of cyberspace. Defending these systems is a significant challenge that requires a combination of technical solutions, processes and people’s skills and awareness.

One of the techniques used to validate and improve the security of systems is penetration testing (also known as pentesting and ethical hacking). It is aimed at finding and fixing vulnerabilities in digital systems before any malicious attackers (‘black-hat’ hackers) can exploit them.

The main difference between the two types of attackers here is that the ethical hackers will be authorised to attack the systems. Instead of taking advantage of the compromised systems, they will report the vulnerabilities back to the organisation and provide recommendations on how to improve the overall security.

Your task

The video that you saw at the start of this week showed a fairly stereotypical view of ‘black-hat’ hacking. You may have seen similar portrayals in other films but black-hat hackers exist in real life too.
What do you think of when you hear the term ‘black-hat hacker’?
Post your thoughts in the comments.

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Ethical Hacking: An Introduction

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