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Ethical Hacking for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know

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14th Sep, 2023
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Ethical Hacking for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know

In today’s digital age, where technology is used extensively, keeping our digital items safe is crucial. That’s where ethical hacking comes in – it’s like a digital superhero that defends us against cybercrime. It checks computers, networks, and applications to uncover weak spots before hackers can exploit them. Exploring the world of cybersecurity becomes accessible with an ethical hacking course for beginners.

Define Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacking, often known as penetration testing, is lawfully breaking into a computer system, application, or network to find vulnerabilities and security shortcomings. It includes replicating the techniques and behaviours of malicious attackers to find possible security flaws before they can be exploited. 

Ethical hackers, often known as white hat hackers, are security specialists who conduct these evaluations with the authority of the system owners. Ethical hacking is a blend of technical expertise, creativity, and problem-solving skills, all aimed at keeping our digital world safe and secure.

Fundamentals of Ethical Hacking

Here are some basics of ethical hacking:

  • An ethical hacker must obtain written permission from the proprietor of the computer system they are testing.
  • Ethical hackers should protect the privacy of the agency being hacked.
  • They perform protection assessments and penetration checking to improve an enterprise’s protection posture.
  • Ethical hacking includes mimicking the movements of malicious attackers to perceive vulnerabilities that can be resolved.
  • Ethical hackers use numerous tools and techniques to experiment with vulnerabilities, take advantage of them, and provide remediation recommendations.
  • Continuous learning and staying updated with modern-day hacking methods and security technologies are essential for ethical hackers.

Syllabus of Ethical Hacking Courses

Ethical hacking for beginners courses predominantly teach the tools and techniques used by hackers and penetration testers, and they cover three major topics in general — ethical hacking, penetration testing, and cyber forensics. The length and cost of the course vary depending on the institution and subject.


The syllabus for the best hacking course for beginners changes from online platforms to institutions. However, specific themes are covered by all universities/colleges. Some of the common topics include hacking concepts, ethical hacking concepts, information security controls, penetration testing concepts, cyber ethics-hacking introduction, information gathering, scanning, Google hacking database, trojans and backdoors, sniffers and keyloggers, virus and virus analysis, DNS, IP spoofing, HoneyPots, system hacking and security, website hacking and security, and mobile and wireless security. 

Ethical Hacking Techniques

Here are some ethical hacking techniques covered by all ethical hacking courses:

  • Penetration testing: This entails simulating an assault on a system or network to uncover vulnerabilities that hostile attackers might exploit.
  • Vulnerability scanning: This involves using automated technologies to scan a system or network for known flaws.
  • Wireless network testing: Here, the security of wireless networks is assessed to find flaws that attackers might exploit.
  • Password cracking: This entails attempting to crack passwords to gain unauthorised access to a system or network.

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Ethical Hacking Tools

Here are some of the top ethical hacking tools that security professionals use to test the security of computer systems and networks:

  • Nmap: A network mapping tool that helps find hosts and services on a network.
  • Wireshark: A network protocol analyser that collects and looks at network facts.
  • Metasploit: A penetration checking out device that assists in checking the security of computer structures and networks.
  • Aircrack-ng: A package of equipment that may be used to check the safety of wireless networks.
  • Burp Suite: A web software-safety testing device that can be used to check the security of online apps.
  • Nessus: A vulnerability checker that can scan computer structures and networks for flaws.
  • John the Ripper: It is an open-source password security auditing and password recovery tool available for many operating systems.
  • SQLMap: A tool that checks the security of SQL databases.
  • NetBIOS: A device that can accumulate information about a goal community or device.
  • Nikto: A web server checker that tests the safety of internet websites.

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Must-Have Skills for Ethical Hackers

Here are some of the key skills an ethical hacker must possess:

  • Technical competence: Ethical hackers must be technically adept and have in-depth knowledge of computer interaction. They should possess at least a fundamental grasp of coding abilities in several common languages.
  • Networking skills: One of the most critical talents to become an ethical hacker is networking skills. The computer network is a web of connected devices, commonly defined as hosts, linked using multiple channels to send/receive data or media.
  • Scripting and programming: White hat hackers should have solid hands-on programming abilities and be specialists in scripting. They should be exposed to different operating systems, including Windows and Linux, and understand the backend database.
  • In-depth understanding of security: An extensive understanding of the various risks and weaknesses that can breach organisational systems is essential. They should be aware of the many networking security and safety protocols available.
  • Passion: Ethical hackers must have a passion for problem-solving and remain within the limits of the engagement.
  • Tenacity: They should be tenacious with a passion for continuous learning.
  • Attention to detail: Ethical hackers must pay meticulous attention to detail and be able to spot even the tiniest weaknesses in a system.
  • Analytical skills: White hat hackers should have good analytical skills and be able to think critically to detect potential security concerns.

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Significance of Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacking is an essential aspect of cybersecurity and has several key benefits:

  • Identifying vulnerabilities: Ethical hackers use their expertise and skills to find possible holes in a system before hostile attackers may exploit them.
  • Preventing data breaches: Ethical hacking helps prevent data breaches by finding and correcting security flaws in a system.
  • Enhancing security measures: It helps firms examine the efficiency of their existing security measures.
  • Staying ahead of cyber risks: The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, with new threats and attack strategies appearing daily. Ethical hacking helps firms avoid these threats by regularly testing and updating their security solutions.

Ethical Hacking Types

  • Black Box Penetration Testing: This hacking involves simulating an attack from an external source without prior knowledge of the system being tested. The ethical hacker cannot access internal information and must rely on external reconnaissance tactics to uncover flaws.
  • Gray Box Penetration Testing: The ethical hacker has little knowledge of the system being evaluated in this testing. They may have access to some internal information, such as network diagrams or user passwords, which might aid them in discovering vulnerabilities.
  • White Box Penetration Testing: Also known as clear box or glass box testing, the ethical hacker has full information and access to the system being examined in this testing. They have access to internal documentation, source code, and other sensitive information, allowing them to examine and detect vulnerabilities extensively.
  • Network Penetration Testing: This ethical hacking focuses on detecting weaknesses in a network architecture. It entails analysing the security of routers, switches, firewalls, and other network devices to verify that they are correctly set and secured against potential threats.
  • Web Application Penetration Testing: Online application penetration testing entails examining the security of web applications, such as websites or online-based software. Ethical hackers study the application’s code, configuration, and server architecture to uncover vulnerabilities that attackers might exploit.

Seven Steps of Ethical Hacking

The seven stages are:

  • Reconnaissance/Footprinting: This step involves obtaining information about the target system or business, such as IP addresses, domain names, and employee names.
  • Scanning: In this stage, the ethical hacker uses tools to scan the target system for vulnerabilities, such as open ports, obsolete software, and weak passwords.
  • Gaining Access: Once vulnerabilities have been found, the ethical hacker seeks to exploit them to access the target system.
  • Maintaining Access: After getting access, the ethical hacker seeks to retain access to the system by building backdoors or installing malware.
  • Clearing traces: In this final stage, the ethical hacker seeks to conceal their traces by erasing logs and other proof of their activity.
  • Reporting: This stage entails documenting the vulnerabilities and exploits uncovered throughout the ethical hacking process and presenting them to the enterprise.
  • Remediation: The last stage entails repairing the vulnerabilities uncovered during the ethical hacking process to improve the security of the system or organisation.

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How Can I Study Ethical Hacking?

Here are some steps you can take to start learning ethical hacking:

  • Understand the basics 

Before getting into ethical hacking, it’s vital to have a basic grasp of computer systems and networks. This involves knowledge of networking equipment, protocols, webpages, web technologies, and other components of online infrastructures.

  • Get certified 

Obtaining an IT security certification can assist in demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in ethical hacking. Some prominent certifications are Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).

  • Stay up-to-date

Ethical hacking is continually growing. Therefore, staying current with the newest tools, techniques, and vulnerabilities is crucial. This includes attending conferences, engaging in online forums, and following industry experts on social media.

What are the Fundamental Needs for Learning Ethical Hacking?

Here are some fundamental requirements for learning ethical hacking:

  • Computer Skills: An excellent grasp of computer systems, including business systems, online, social media, and databases.
  • Networking Skills: Knowledge of network models, internet protocols, IP addresses, routers, servers, clients, transmission media, access points, shared data, and network interface cards.
  • Operating System Proficiency: A strong grasp of operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and macOS
  • Programming Skills: Knowledge of programming languages like Python, C, C++, Java, and Ruby.

Why Pursue a Career in Ethical Hacking?

Here are some reasons why you should consider ethical hacking as a career:

  • Plenty of opportunities: Cyber assaults are rising globally, leading to an ever-increasing demand for ethical hackers. Thus, there are lots of prospects for cybersecurity specialists.
  • Good salary: Ethical hacking is profitable for IT experts or hopefuls with excellent salary packages.
  • Job never gets boring: Ethical hacking is a dynamic area that demands ongoing learning and development of new talents. This guarantees that there is no monotony in the job.
  • Greater sense of achievement: Ethical hackers are critical in safeguarding systems and data against threats and assaults. This might offer them a better sense of achievement.

In-Demand Software Development Skills


Ethical hacking is a rapidly expanding industry with various prospects for anyone interested in cybersecurity. To become a proficient ethical hacker, starting with the basics and developing a rudimentary grasp of computer networking, programming languages, and online applications is vital. It is also necessary to observe ethical rules and acquire consent from the entity that owns the system before undertaking any security evaluation. 

Aspiring ethical hackers should be prepared to put in a lot of labour and dedication to uncover and exploit system flaws. With the increasing importance of online security, enrolling in the best ethical hacking course for beginners would be a wise investment.


Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1How to learn ethical hacking in 1 year?

Studying ethical hacking in 12 months is viable. However, it is critical to understand that studying ethical hacking for beginners may take 18 months to six years.

2What is an ethical hacker's salary?

The salary of an ethical hacker in India varies depending on expertise. The starting range is roughly INR 519,102 LPA. However, the typical salary of an ethical hacker in India can range from INR 2.8 LPA to 40 LPA, depending on the job roles and expertise.

3What should I learn first for ethical hacking?

To learn hacking for beginners, start by constructing a stable base in networking, cybersecurity principles, and programming. Understand network operations, protocols, IP addresses, and vulnerabilities.

4Can I teach myself hacking?

You could self-educate in hacking. However, it is vital to accomplish that ethically, for instance, by enrolling in an ethical hacking beginners’ course. Learn about networks, programming, and cybersecurity. Apply this know-how responsibly to enhance digital security and aid businesses, adhering to laws and ethical requirements.

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