In the dark alleys of virtual space, cyber crooks, a.k.a. hackers, are persistently coming up with novel attacks to knock out even the latest anti-fraud defences. If a report released by software security services provider, Norton, is anything to go by, over 42 million people have become casualties of cyber crimes in India in 2012. With growing instances of sophisticated cyber crimes becoming a virtual reality, cyber sleuths are now much in demand to safeguard valued information systems. According to reports, India faces a dearth of 470,000 cyber security experts and an upcoming government-private sector initiative hopes to train 500,000 cyber warriors or ethical hackers in the near future.
Before we delve deeper to understand what it takes to make a career in ethical hacking, let us get to know what this term implies. Ethical hacking is basically a term used by the media or the general public. Experts know this process as penetration testing, intrusion testing or red teaming. And these terms certainly do not sound that cool, whereas ethical hacking does, says Tamaghna Basu, who works as a cyber security expert at an online shopping portal. Basu, who is also a core member of the null community, continues, Ethical hackers, who are also known as white hats, hack a security system on behalf of their organisation and identify the security loopholes that a hacker could exploit, and fix them. In a nutshell, they basically do what the hackers do, but the process is ethical since this is done to enhance the safety of the computer systems. According to Basu, the advent of mobile technology has given rise to a new breed of professionals who work as Android penetration testing experts, iOS intrusion testing experts and more.
The increasing reliance on IT sources has given way to more threats, thus increasing the vulnerability factor. So much so that both government departments and private firms are now hiring ethical hackers to safeguard their networked computer systems. Ankit Oberoi, director, Innobuzz Knowledge Solutions, Delhi, explains, With the awareness on privacy laws escalating in India, the demand for ethical hackers has increased manifold in both private and government sectors like banks and the armed forces. Oberoi, who pursued a career in ethical hacking before opening up his own training institute, comes up with an interesting fact. thought of becoming a serious ethical hacker only after I became a victim of hacking. My data was stolen from my computer and I failed to find a good ethical hacker to sort out the problem. Then, I decided to take it up as a career option, says Oberoi.
When Oberoi started his institute three years back with 40-odd aspiring ethical hackers, little did he know that his school would end up training more than 1000 students across the country. He explains the reasons. The sudden rush of people enrolling for ethical hacking courses is mainly because of security concerns. Everyone does not want to become an ethical hacker, but they want to educate themselves so that they can combat the threats. Training institutes offer both basic and advanced courses, and for those who understand ethical hacking, it can be a lucrative career option, so they go for the latter option, says Oberoi.
While aspiring ethical hackers are making a beeline to training institutes, Rajat Garg, managing director, CyberCure Technologies, says it is important to know the responsibilities of an ethical hacker. These professionals devise security policies for a company, get involved in remote management of security products, don the hat of a security auditor and clinically probe cyber crimes, says Garg. And what is the curriculum at institutes that train people for such careers? Our first module deals with whether ethical hacking is legal or illegal. As training institutes, it is important to tell students about the varied risks associated with unlawful hacking. Then, they are taught about coding, cyber forensics, network security and case studies of the latest virus attacks, elaborates Garg.
With ethical hacking offering lucrative job opportunities, it is important to be armed with the right skill sets to ensure a successful stint in this domain. Says K K Mookhey, founder of the Institute of Information Security, Mumbai, The first and foremost thing is keeping abreast with the latest technology and being flexible enough to keep updating your skills to tackle the new challenges that come your way. Second, it’s essential to keep your integrity intact while working in this terrain. That apart, knowledge in programming and a basic knowhow of TCP/IP protocols such as SMTP, ICMP and HTTP are required. Certification courses such as Certified Ethical Hacker play an important role in shaping one’s career.
It’s not just that the careers in this arena promise to be fruitful the remuneration that one gets is equally good, says Sandeep Sengupta, co-founder of the Indian School of Ethical Hacking, Kolkata. Sandeep, who himself is a security expert by profession, helped Calcutta University combat a virus attack in 2003 that almost paralysed the functioning of the whole system. If you have the right skill sets accompanied with the right aptitude, you can earn Rs 100,000 to Rs 200,000 per month easily. Organisations don’t mind hiring good ethical hackers on a higher pay, says Sengupta.
Some ethical hacking course providers
Name of Training Institute Contact Details
Innobuzz Knowledge Solutions (P) Limited
10, PVR Plaza, Connaught Circus, New Delhi 110001
20, II Floor, Hudson Lane, New Delhi 110009
Ph: 011- 41557113
Institute of Information Security
201 and 204, Ecospace IT Park, Off Old Nagardas Road,
Andheri(E), Mumbai 400069;
Ph: +91 22 4005 2628/ +91 22 4295 3158
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.iisecurity.in
Indian School of Ethical Hacking
ISOEH Saltlake Branch: Infinity Benchmark Building, 18th Floor, Room #3,
Saltlake Electronics Complex, Sector – V, Kolkata 700091;
Ph: 9830310550; Website: http://www.isoeh.com/