If you’ve ever wondered about how secure a public WiFi network is, you’ve probably also wondered about all the ways in which the data that we create on a daily basis is liable to be intercepted. And it’s not just about the data that we create or consume – different types of networks have different connections that are protected in various ways, and what would happen if some of those ways were discovered by people who had malicious intentions? Well, if these thoughts have run their course through your mind, and you’re wondering what you can do about it – well, then ethical hacking is the profession for you!
But what if you’ve never heard of the term “ethical hacking” before? It’s entirely possible that you’ve only thought about hacking as the thing that people who steal from banks, or museums, or sensitive data – basically you may have only thought of hacking as something that aids criminals in stealing. That’s just the popular portrayal of it. In reality, hacking can also be used to find out faults with security measures, test the strength of various networks, and much more! And this is what is referred to as ethical hacking.
Why Should you Consider Ethical Hacking?
There are many compelling reasons to consider ethical hacking, and some of them may even surprise you! For instance, did you know that there are more cyberattacks occurring per second now than ever before in the history of the universe? The most recent estimate for this is somewhere between one attack every 11 to 14 seconds. This means that companies, no matter their size or strength or turnover, are always under threat of losing their precious data, as well as any industry secrets that they may be guarding closely. Needless to say, this has translated into a very specific concern when it comes to evaluating cybersecurity concerns, as well as threat vulnerability, no matter what part of the spectrum is open to being intercepted.
And there’s a very logical reason behind the now increased responsibility that needs to be shouldered by ethical hackers. Think about it – data is, without doubt, one of the most important things that a company can produce, acquire, or exchange today. Therefore, it can directly impact a company’s bottom line, not to mention the top line.
Ethical hackers are therefore in significant demand these days, not only because they can protect the data that companies need on a daily basis, but also because they can provide significant inputs into how to make the extant security systems better and more efficient in terms of guarding against rogue attacks and specific malware.
If you like a job where you feel the pressure of performing every single day, then ethical hacking is the right career choice for you! If you’ve already accepted that one of the best ways to get noticed is by setting yourself up in do-or-die situations, then ethical hacking may be the exact fit for you! Read on to find out what kind of careers await you in the wonderful field of ethical hacking.
Why are Ethical Hackers in Demand?
Considering the importance placed on ethical hacking as well as everything else that is related to it, it’s worth it to spend some more time trying to understand the demand. It comes from the fact that data breaches are ultimately not a matter of possibility but rather one of temporality. This basically means that data breaches are going to happen sooner rather than later, and it’s in the best interest of every company to keep their data in the hands and minds of people whose entire job consists of protecting this very data.
Moreover, businesses that choose to invest in their cybersecurity make sure that they also have an edge over other companies simply because they go the extra mile to ensure that there are no security lapses. When it comes to stakeholders of companies – especially those who are not experts in tech, let alone cybersecurity – they understand how important it can be to maintain a competitive edge over other competitors and therefore understand the importance of this investment as well.
As you read this, companies across the world have wisened up to the security requirements of the present age. There are now as many as 3 times the ethical hacker jobs than there are people who can do the work that these jobs entail. This basically means that vacancies are increasing at a steady rate as companies start looking to find people to fill up these roles, while the general demand for these roles increases at an alarming rate.
Some of the other reasons why cybersecurity has come into its own as a business concern is an increasing rate at which cloud computing has been taken up by companies of all sizes and belonging to all industries. This not only puts their entire business data online but also exposes them to security issues that come with inconsistent security updates. In addition to this, security spending has grown at a fast pace, and when coupled with the overall number of internet users, it only means that there is an ever-growing need to be security conscious.
This being said, there is yet another factor that ties everything – every single online threat is increasing in the type of complexity and range of impact. So, every single company out there is looking to diversify their knowledge base when it comes to cybersecurity and understanding how best to deal with the demands of security needs.
Now let’s take a look at some of the career opportunities in the field of ethical hacking in specific and cybersecurity in general.
Ethical Hacking Career Opportunities, Salaries, and Progression
Becoming a successful ethical career doesn’t require one and only path – it is a multifaceted role, and therefore has multiple points of entry, as well as unique growth opportunities that can take you in some very different directions in your professional career! No matter whether you’re coming into this role directly from a college degree or if you’ve had some IT experience in a different field, you can still come into this field with the expectation that you will grow and can make a name for yourself by providing the practical knowledge that gets the work done!
What are the Different Roles you can get as an Entry-Level Ethical Hacker?
There are many roles that you can get as you start out – and the most require that you’ll have to fulfil is to have general IT knowledge and experience. Once you’ve understood the theoretical bits, you can implement that to understand how to protect knowledge in practice. Here are some of the jobs you can get:
- Web administrator
- IT technician
- Database administrator
- Security administrator
- Web developer
Now, although these jobs don’t directly have “ethical hacker” or “cybersecurity” in the job description, there is a very definite option to graduate into those roles from these more basic positions. All you’ll need to do is take up a cybersecurity course online – and from there, everything can get sorted for you, in terms of having precedence for a cybersecurity job role!
For these entry-level positions, you can earn an average of INR 2.5 lacs per annum, and it can go up to INR 5 per annum as well!
From here on out, it gets much more lucrative from a strictly financial perspective. Moreover, the quality of work also gets more engaging and you can end up expressing yourself in a much more satisfying manner as well. Your best bet will be to consider some certifications that will take up specific management issues, thus making your contributions to any role that much more helpful.
The Next Step: Ethical Hacking
Once you’ve completed the required certifications, you can take a look at ethical hacking as a full-time job option. As an ethical hacker – or a penetration tester, testing how deep the security of the network penetrates into the network – you will be looking at the various weak spots that can exist in a particular network. You will basically be simulating actual cyber-attacks so that you know which part of the network is the most vulnerable and to which part of your attack.
The median salary for an ethical hacker is around INR 5 LPA. With up to 3-5 years of experience, it can go up to INR 7.2 LPA as well. The job of an ethical hacker includes penetration testing on all parts of extant networks to make sure that they can handle performance stress tests. They also have to make sure that they can communicate their research to other teams in the same organization so that they can improve upon the network’s faults, especially when it comes to existing security holes.
Once they have understood which specific vulnerabilities get triggered through which attacks, their task becomes to make sure that there are newer, more improved tests to make sure that the network can continue to be protected.
Once you have spent some time trying to contend with various networks and how well they can hold up under specific stresses of cyber attacks, you can move onwards to make sense of the entirety of the security architecture that encompasses the network all around. The easiest way to reach the next step is to take certain online certifications that will significantly bolster your resume and make you a strong contender for the role of a security architect. And you can read all about it below!
The Next Step: Security Architecture
Once you’ve figured out the basics of IT security and ethical hacking, the next logical step is to work your way towards understanding security architecture as a whole. Here, you can contend with how larger structures operate and how they impact every little aspect of the way things function within them. Security architecture is largely concerned with how a security network functions within an organization. So, a security architect looks at how the overall structure is designed and how it is built and how it is implemented. Their primary task is to protect against intrusive malware or viruses, or other kinds of attacks.
As a security architect, you can earn a significant amount of money when it comes to having a job that involves security architecture. Typically, you’d need at least 7 to 10 years of experience in the security field to reach this position, and once you’ve reached this level of experience, this job will not only make sense but also offer itself a great opportunity for you. The base salary for a security architect is around 19.8 LPA and can go as high up as 30 LPA! So, needless to say, it is a monetarily lucrative position, and it will even satisfy you in terms of what you will have to do on a daily basis.
As a security architect, your job will include designing security systems that can serve across a huge range of IT projects. You will also have to understand what kinds of requirements are relevant when it comes to certain networks or network devices, and undertake risk analysis as well as perform vulnerability testing on all kinds of networks. In addition to this, you’ll also have to implement the best systems and practices for all the networks under your jurisdiction.
The Last Step: Chief Information Security Officer
After you’ve worked your way through the earlier levels, you’ll reach a stage when you have a thorough understanding of security networks and processes, how these structures are constructed and how to build them on your own. At this point, your natural tendency will be to want to do more of the same, in as far and wide a range as possible.
And this is exactly what the role of the Chief Information Security Officer will allow you to achieve! As the “Chief” title may give away, there is a lot at stake here, and a lot to gain as a result. Let’s take a quick look at what this role consists of, and how you’ll have to wrap your head around it!
Well, at a basic level, you’ll have to handle and oversee all of the security initiatives in your company, and make sure that everything is always on point when it comes to tactical protection from threats, as well as to make sure that there are no open vulnerabilities on your part either. This role provides a certain degree of freedom in terms of how you have to operate on a daily basis.
As long as you get the results that the company requires, you have full control over how you set up your daily operations and how you delegate work to others. In the role of this responsibility, you will be reporting to either the Chief Information Officer or the Chief Executive Officer.
To reach this level, you will already have to have spent over a decade in the IT industry as a security specialist before you can be eligible. The more time that you spend dealing with security teams and overall security ops, the more the dice will be in your favour. The average salary of a CISO is 23 LPA, and it can go as high up as 55 LPA, or even more!
As a CISO, your daily job role will involve you in managing IT security levels of all expertise and skill levels. You will also have to work closely with corporate stakeholders to understand their requirements when it comes to the security front, as well as creating plans for utilizing information security technologies to the best of their capabilities. Corporate security will of course be a great part of your job role, you will also have to step in whenever there’s a possible data breach or vulnerability being exposed, and you will need to know exactly which steps to take to make sure that things go well from that point onwards. Overall, this is no doubt going to be a very demanding role – but if you know exactly what you want from your work, and you can do that work well, this will be a very enjoyable role for you!
If you’ve read through this entire article then there’s a really high chance that the security bug has bitten you and you want to do your best to make sure that all your security systems are on the correct track. And why not, what good is an ethical hacker if they can’t secure their own systems?
But other than that, you’ve also understood that ethical hacking is a very lucrative field, with a lot of growth opportunities – both in terms of work and in terms of money. So get started on your path to becoming an ethical hacker today, and don’t look back! The quicker you start, the sooner you’ll reach the zenith of your career!
If you want to pursue this profession, upGrad and IIIT-B can help you with an Executive PG Program in Software Development Specialization in Cyber Security. The course offers specialization in application security, cryptography, data secrecy, and network security.