We read and hear about cyber-attacks and hacking threats constantly. Do you ever wonder who combats these attacks and protects organisations?
The answer is ethical hackers. Unlike traditional hackers, who breach digital security systems to steal data for extorting money, ethical hackers test out the digital security systems to enhance their strength.
Even though the role of ethical hackers has been in the industry for several years, demand for ethical hackers is soaring high right now. That’s because we’ve witnessed a significant increase in cyber-attacks in the past decade. What’s more is the techniques used by cybercriminals have become highly advanced and complex, with new variations of malware constantly making it to the market. Naturally, organisations need ethical hackers to mitigate such threats.
While this is quite a unique field, it is also financially lucrative. Today, we’ll discuss the average certified ethical hacker salary in India to understand why now is the perfect time to pursue a career in ethical hacking.
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.
Why is the Ethical Hacker salary in India high?
Ethical hackers ensure that a company remains safe from any form of data breaches. They install and incorporate the appropriate safety infrastructure, measures, and technologies to prevent system breach or violation.
The looming threat of cybercrimes is ever prevalent today. According to the Government of India, cyber attacks in India rose by 300% in 2020. Be it small businesses or large corporations, government agencies or private companies – nobody is safe from hackers. A single data breach can result in a staggering financial loss for an organisation. When it comes to national security issues, the Indian government has to pay special attention to fortify the cybersecurity infrastructure.
Just a few months ago, the data of 2 crores Bigbasket users, a popular grocery delivery platform, was compromised. Similarly, unknown hackers made a ransomware attack on Haldiram and demanded $7,50,000 from the namkeen manufacturer.
These stats and instances show how crucial it is for organisations of all shapes and sizes to invest in cybersecurity and hire the right professionals for it. Since cybersecurity is a complex and highly specialised field, the average ethical hacker salary in India is pretty high. Another reason why ethical hackers’ salary is high is that there’s a lack of talent in this domain. Even though there’s a huge demand for ethical hackers and cybersecurity professionals in India, the supply is quite limited. Hence, companies pay handsomely for these roles to attract the best talent.
Many companies have started adopting cloud computing technologies to store their data. While cloud computing solutions promise efficiency, speed, and reduced costs to their users, they make the data more vulnerable to ransomware and malware attacks. This has also caused an uptick in demand for ethical hackers. Global spending on cybersecurity is also expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2021.
Ethical Hacking Career Opportunities, Salaries, and Progression
The ethical hacker salary in India ranges from INR 1.77 lakh per annum and goes up to INR 40 lakh per annum. Bonus for this role ranges from INR 5,000 to INR 2 lakh, whereas shared profits go up to INR 5.11 lakh.
The certified ethical hacker ranges so vastly because it depends on many factors, including your experience, company reputation, skills, location, company’s pay structure, etc.
Many ethical hackers choose to become self-employed and launch their own business. This is an ideal pathway for those who want to freelance. If you have a knack for entrepreneurship, you can even launch your cybersecurity firm. However, it would be best to gain some experience in the field before you start your business.
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!
Factors Affecting Ethical Hacker Salary in India
The reason why the salary range of ethical hackers in India varies greatly is due to multiple factors. However, out of those numerous factors, the most notable ones are:
- Your location (the city you work in).
- Your experience (how many years you have spent in the industry).
- Your skills (your expertise in the trade).
- Your employer (which company you work for)
- Your job role
Understanding these factors can help you in determining how much you can expect to earn from this role. Moreover, you can use this information to plan your career more effectively.
In the following points, we’ll discuss these four factors in more detail:
The city you work in plays a huge role in determining how much you’ll make as an ethical hacker.
Pay for ethical hackers varies from city to city. That’s because the cost of living is different for every city. Living in a metro city would be more expensive than a non-metro city. Moreover, a city’s work environment and culture also influence the average pay offered in that place.
Cities that offer the best pay to ethical hackers in India are:
- Hyderabad (49% more than the average)
- Delhi (19% more than the average)
- Kolkata (19% more than the average)
- Jaipur (50% more than the average)
Similarly, some cities offer below-average pay to ethical hackers in India. These cities include:
- Pune (21% less than the average)
- Mumbai (21% less than the average)
- Bangalore (10% less than the average)
Another notable factor that affects your ethical hacker salary in India is the amount of experience you have as a professional.
Generally, as you gain more experience in the field, the higher your pay will be. Entry-level and early-career ethical hackers earn 2% and 5% less than the average, whereas late-career ethical hackers make 447% more than the average.
Ethical hackers with less than a year’s experience earn INR 4.93 lakh per annum on average in India. Those with five to nine years of professional experience in this field make INR 7 lakh per annum on average.
On the other hand, ethical hackers with 10 to 19 years of professional experience earn INR 30 lakh per annum on average. You should keep in mind that you can get promoted to senior roles in your organisation that pay much higher salaries with experience.
Your knowledge of this field and your technical expertise will help you greatly in attracting higher pay as an ethical hacker. Developing the most in-demand skills is the best way to command high-pay as a professional.
You should focus on seeing which skills are popular in this field and which skills offer the best pay. In terms of popularity, the most popular skills among ethical hackers are cybersecurity, Linux, network security management, and IT security & infrastructure.
Alternatively, the most financially beneficial skill for ethical hackers is network management as it offers 59% higher than average pay. Other skills that offer above-average pay to ethical hackers are computer security and IT security & infrastructure – each of them offers 9% higher than average pay.
Different organisations offer different salaries to ethical hackers. Companies that provide some of the best salaries to ethical hackers are HCL Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services. The pay of ethical hackers at Tata Consultancy Services ranges from INR 5.17 lakh per annum to INR 5.54 lakh per annum.
You should choose your employer carefully in this field. We recommend doing thorough research on different organisations before selecting a particular company.
Ethical hacking is a branch of cybersecurity. There are a plethora of career opportunities in this field. Following are some of the most lucrative job roles you can pursue in this field
1. Ethical Hacker
An ethical hacker tests the digital security implementations of an organisation to identify its weaknesses and suggest improvements accordingly. They are experts who can penetrate networks to find security vulnerabilities. Black-hat hackers exploit these vulnerabilities to breach an organisation’s cybersecurity system. Hence, ethical hackers regularly check the company’s network security systems to identify vulnerable areas and fix them.
They also train the organisation’s staff about the best security practices and standards.
What is the average ethical hacker salary in India?
The average ethical hacking salary in India is INR 5.02 lakh per annum. Pay in this field can go up to INR 40 lakh per annum depending on your experience, skills, and other factors.
2. Network Security Engineer
A network security engineer handles and manages the overall technology stack of an organisation. Network security engineers provision, deploy, configure, and administer the various network and security-related hardware and software of a company.
They maintain firewall, web security programs, virtual private networks, etc. They also support the code environment to protect switches, servers, and the organisation’s IT infrastructure.
What is the average network security engineer salary in India?
The average network security engineer salary in India is INR 5.34 lakh per annum. Pay for this field starts from INR 2.47 lakh per annum and goes up to INR 10 lakh per annum. Notable skills in this field are security policies and procedures, WAF (Web App Firewall), and IT security & infrastructure.
3. Cyber Security Analyst
A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for protecting an organisation from cyber threats. They do so by using various processes and technologies that detect and prevent these threats.
Cybersecurity analysts are responsible for testing their organisation’s security implementations to determine how well they perform against real threats. They work with other cybersecurity professionals to help strengthen their company’s defences against hackers and malware.
What is the average cybersecurity analyst salary in India?
A cybersecurity analyst in India earns an average salary of INR 5.29 lakh per annum. Their pay starts from INR 3 lakh per annum and goes up to INR 10 lakh per year, depending on their experience and skills.
Ethical Hacker Salary in Other Countries (UK & USA)
Apart from India, the demand for ethical hackers is significantly high all across the globe. Organisations everywhere realise the importance of cybersecurity implementations and want to protect themselves from the dangers of hackers and malware.
Ethical Hacker salary in the US
The average ethical hacking salary in the US is $93,566. Popular employers for ethical hackers in the US include Booz, Allen and Hamilton, Lockheed Martin Corp, US Army, and Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Ethical Hacker salary in the UK
In the UK, the average ethical hacking salary is £44,525 per annum. Prominent employers for ethical hackers in the UK include BT Group, Claranet, Barclays Bank PLC, CGI Group Inc, etc.
How to become an Ethical Hacker?
By now, it’s clear to you that ethical hackers are the front-line defence of any organization against cyber threats. An ethical hacker must be well-versed with cryptography, computer networks, and the basics of Internet security.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field, you should take a cybersecurity course. Taking a cybersecurity course will help you learn all the required concepts through a structured curriculum in a stepwise manner.
At upGrad, we offer the following two cybersecurity courses:
This is a 13-month long online program we offer with IIIT-B. The program offers you 400+ hours of content with 10+ live sessions and 7+ case studies and projects. You will learn about software engineering, information security, network security, and many other crucial subjects of cybersecurity.
It’s an online program that lasts for 7.5 months only. You will get 300+ hours of study material in this program with all of our exclusive benefits. You will learn about network security in ethical hacking, application security in ethical hacking, and plenty of other related concepts.
Both of these courses allow you to study directly from the industry through live sessions, videos, lectures, and assignments. The projects allow you to test your knowledge of the subjects you learn during these problems and see how much you have learnt.
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.