Hacking on the Internet is a natural process that leads to a violation of confidentiality and confidential information. Weaknesses in the system or loopholes in the network were identified, and personal data was also available. Therefore, hacking is also known as an unauthorized intrusion. Nonetheless, hacking was not always perceived as theft and was used for productive purposes. This type of hacking, which includes good intentions, is known as ethical hacking.
Ethical Hackers and Their Purpose
People who specialize in the ethical hacking process are known as ethical hackers. These are professionals who hack into a system or network to find possible crashes, pitfalls, and vulnerabilities that could be exploited by black hat hackers or crackers. The skills and thinking of ethical hackers are equal to malicious hackers, but they can be trusted. Ethical hackers are certified and authorized to perform hacking on target systems. An ethical hacker has the legal right to access the target’s personal data and change the target’s system. The skills that an ethical hacker possesses can be used to increase cyber security.
Along with hackers in white and black hats, another category of hackers was discovered who work closely with ethical hackers but face some social consequences. These hackers are known as gray hackers who break into technical and network systems for good reasons, for example, help organizations solve security problems, but are not authorized. Gray hat hackers carry out ethical hacks, but their unauthorized approach leads to a lack of public recognition. Ethical hackers are hired by agencies, companies, and organizations to monitor their security.
Hacking is not a single-phase process. Five steps are performed to complete the hacking process:
• Maintain access
• Cleaning tracks
A hacker does not have to follow these steps in sequential order. However, the implementation of these steps in the same order can lead to accurate hacking. In the initial stage, the maximum information about the network, hosts and the people involved is collected to perform a fingerprint or intelligence. This can be done either by directly approaching the goal and gaining knowledge or by using indirect methods such as websites, social sites, etc.without a direct approach to the target. Data collection provides a deep understanding of the system under surveillance.
The second stage involves a thorough scan of the target. Three processes are involved in the scanning phase; port scanning, vulnerability scanning and network mapping. For further processing of the target, technical means are used; for example, a vulnerability scanner is installed in the target network to identify security threats.
In the third step, the hacker finally gains access to the target system or network using various methods and tools. When accessing the system, the hacker must reach the administrator level in order to change or set the data in accordance with the requirement. Modification of network or system data occurs after installing a specialized application that allows a hacker to change network settings.
The process of maintaining access is very important since, after the loss of target access, the process of obtaining it will be repeated again and again. Specific files that support access are used for this purpose if the hacker’s task has not yet been completed. Otherwise, if the hacker made the necessary changes to the system, access is not required to be maintained. The final hacking step involves clearing the track to erase all traces and evidence that the system was hacked. All created folders, installed applications, and changed registry values are deleted at this point. The changes are made unrecognizable so that the hacking process is not detected.
Process, Tool and Technology
Knowledge in networks and systems is not enough to complete the hacking process. Special tools and software applications are designed to perform ethical hacking accurately. They simplify the hacking process and are convenient for use by hackers who are at the initial stage. Some of these tools include vulnerability scanners, packet analyzers, password crackers, hacking equipment, applications, and port scanners. CDN draws on other commercial and open ethical hacking tools such as Nmap, Ether Peek WebInspect, Ethereal, Kismet, Nikto, QualysGuard, SuperScan, ToneLoc, LC4, LANguard Scanner for network security, Internet scanner, Nessus, etc. These tools and equipment are commercially available to professional ethical hackers and are included with the manual for further convenience.