Learn Ethical Hacking from Scratch: Skills Needed, Steps to Become an Ethical Hacker

Look at the following instances:

Do you notice a common theme in all of these incidents? 

All of them indicate the rising threat of hackers and cyber-attacks. As we get more digitised, we become more vulnerable to such malicious elements. It’s a constant onslaught because as we fortify our cybersecurity measures, hackers and similar organizations develop more advanced methods to break through them. 

Are you interested in combating this problem? If so, then a career in ethical hacking would be perfect for you. Ethical hackers are cybersecurity experts who help people and organizations in keeping hackers away and save them from cyber attacks. 

This article will throw light on how you can learn ethical hacking from scratch so you can start right away and pursue a career whose demand is constantly on the rise. 

What is Ethical Hacking?

Before we begin talking about how you can learn ethical hacking from scratch, we should first understand what it is. 

Ethical hacking, also known as pen testing or penetration testing, is the authorized or legal act of breaking into an organization’s information system. An ethical hacker is a professional who breaches an organization’s network or system security to find its weak areas, vulnerabilities and potential attacks. 

In ethical hacking, you focus on testing the cyber defences of the organization through legally breaking into them. The organization permits an ethical hacker to test their cybersecurity implementations. 

You should know that no system, website, organization or device is beyond hacking. An ethical hacker can break into any system with the right tools and skills. They do so, to find the weak areas of the system’s cybersecurity implementations. 

By identifying the vulnerabilities of the system, the ethical hacker can suggest improvements about the same. This way, it would remain safe from malicious hackers. 

Ethical hacking defends national security by protecting sensitive data about the country. It also protects individuals’ privacy by reinforcing their cyber defences.

An ethical hacker undergoes professional training and earns certification in this field to learn the necessary skills. Another name for ethical hackers is white-hat hackers while hackers that break into a system without authorization or with malicious intent are called black-hat hackers. 

There are also grey-hat hackers who penetrate an organization’s cyber defences without their permission and suggest improvements for a price. Keep in mind that ethical hacking is legal while the other two aren’t. 

What Skills Do you Need to Become an Ethical Hacker?

If you want to learn ethical hacking from scratch, you must learn about the necessary skills for this role. We can divide the fundamental skills needed to become an ethical hacker into two categories:

  • Hard skills
  • Soft skills 

You should have an extensive understanding of computer systems and IT technologies. The prominent hard skills for an ethical hacker are: Database skills, security concepts, virtualization, web applications, advanced TCP/IP, cryptography, networking skills & concepts, familiarity with Linux, and Wireshark. 

On the other hand, some essential soft skills to become an ethical hacker are problem-solving skills, creative thinking, analytical skills, persistence, and communication skills. 

Along with these skills, you must also have excellent programming skills as you’d be working with different programming languages. 

In terms of demand, the most sought-after skill among ethical hackers is Network Management / Administration as those professionals earn 60% more than the industry average. Similarly, ethical hackers with Computer Security and IT Security & Infrastructure skills earn 10% more than the industry average. 

Keep in mind that ethical hacking is a highly skill-specific field and your pay would depend largely on your expertise and professional experience. 

How to Become an Ethical Hacker?

Now that you know what skills you should learn to become an ethical hacker, let’s discuss how you would learn them.

Becoming an expert in so many domains such as IT security, cryptography, and database can be quite challenging. It can get overwhelming for any student, which is why the best way to go about this process is by taking a course.

Taking a cybersecurity course would be highly beneficial for you if you want to learn ethical hacking from scratch. It would give you a structured curriculum to learn from so you can study in a planned and timely manner. This way, you can plan your career more effectively as well.

At upGrad, we offer an Executive PG Programme in Software Development – Specialisation in Cyber Security with IIIT Bangalore. This course allows you to learn directly from industry experts through videos, projects, and live sessions. 

More Information About the Course

Our Executive PG Programme in Software Development – Specialisation in Cyber Security is a 13-month long online course. As it’s completely online, you wouldn’t have to interrupt your professional life while taking it. This means you can learn cybersecurity without leaving your job. 

Some of the prominent subjects you will learn in this course are Data Secrecy, Cryptography, Application Security, and Network Security. You only need to have a bachelor’s degree with 50% or equivalent passing marks to be eligible for this program. This course doesn’t require you to have any coding experience as it teaches you all the necessary skills. 

You will get more than 400 hours of study material, 10+ live sessions, and learn six tools and software. The program also features 7+ case studies and projects so you can test your knowledge. 


If you want to learn ethical hacking from scratch, it would be best to take a cybersecurity course. We recommend checking out the course we have shared above. 

upGrad’s Advanced Certificate Programme in Cyber Security will teach you all the necessary skills and subjects you need to become a professional. You’ll get to learn directly from industry experts through live video sessions. The course gives you IIIT Bangalore alumni status and access to work class faculty members.

On the other hand, if you have any questions or suggestions regarding this article, you can let us know by dropping a comment below. 

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