Hacking is done to gain unauthorised access to any computer system to perform malicious activities. Once the hacker has access to the system, he can steal sensitive information or even delete files. Hacking is illegal when done without permission. Hacking systems without adequate permission or indulging in any other activity associated with hacking is a serious cybercrime and can lead to extreme consequences.
However, hacking performed with the permission of the network owners falls under the wing of ethical hacking. It is done to determine the vulnerabilities and security risks in a computer system.
Generally, renowned software companies hire ethical hackers to hack their systems and find weak points or vulnerabilities in their applications. This allows them to employ preventive measures to prevent malicious activities and reduce risk factors. Almost every top tech company practices this as a precautionary measure against legitimate hackers with nefarious intentions.
Given the growing risk in the current digital age, the cybersecurity and information security markets are witnessing rapid growth worldwide.
To cater to the sector’s requirements, there is a requirement for professionals like Ethical Hackers, Security Analysts, Security Officers, etc., to protect company information. Among all, it’s the job of an ethical hacker that receives the highest salary.
If you have been considering pursuing ethical hacking as a profession, here is everything you need to know. The article includes everything from eligibility to the highest ethical hacking salary, and the various ethical hackers can take up in India.
Who is an Ethical Hacker?
An ethical hacker is a certified and skilled professional hired by top software companies for their excellent non-technical and technical skills and expertise, helping the company identify and deal with vulnerabilities on target systems and networks. They are network and computer experts who have proficient knowledge of various operating systems, hacking techniques, and processes to detect possible threats. This makes them an essential part of IT security. The government also hires ethical hackers to prevent the compromise of national security features.
There are both white hat and black hat hackers in the market. But what separates them is how they work. An ethical hacker will work with the permission of the network owners. They will comply with the rules of the network owners and take into account the country’s laws. A white hacker’s sole aim is to assess an organisation’s security standing. Black hat hackers, on the other hand, use illegal means to get access to a system. So, there is a considerable risk of facing legal charges.
White hackers in the formal security industry are generally referred to as cybersecurity specialists. Here are the roles and responsibilities or duties of an ethical hacker:
1. An ethical hacker is responsible for meeting with network owners to discuss the security system.
2. Ethical hackers conduct thorough research of the company system to understand the possible penetration site and network structure.
3. An ethical hacker develops scripts suitable for testing the vulnerabilities of the network system.
4. They conduct various penetration tests on the network of the organisation.
5. Ethical hackers identify and record breaches and security flaws.
6. They identify the areas requiring high-level security.
7. They review the security network to find any possible issues.
8. Ethical hackers create suggestions for necessary security upgrades.
9. They formulate penetration test reports to present to the client.
10. The ethical hacker performs various penetration tests after the implementation of a new security.
Eligibility Criteria for Ethical Hackers
To land an ethical hacking position in a reputable firm, you must have a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology. Candidates must obtain a PG Diploma in Software Development – Specialisation in Cyber Security to take up ethical hacking as a career. Further, if you have a PG Certification in Cyber Security from a reputed institute, it will help you attack lucrative opportunities from top companies in the IT sector.
An ethical hacker must have expertise and sound working knowledge of Linux servers, Microsoft, Virtualization, Cisco network switches, Citrix, and Microsoft Exchange. Adequate knowledge of the latest penetration software and tools is essential to succeed and stay ahead of the competition.
Why should you pursue Ethical Hacking as a career?
With the rise of online thefts, ethical hacking has become one of the most popular career options. An increasing number of breaches and cybercrimes have been reported in recent times. As per Gartner and Accenture’s surveys, the Information security market is expected to reach $170.4 billion by 2022, and nearly 68% of business leaders worldwide feel that cybersecurity risks are growing.
Thus, there is a growing demand for ethical hackers in various industries like government organisations, IT sectors, law enforcement, departments in National intelligence, financial institutions, etc. In fact, business organisations need ethical hackers to keep their information protected. It is with this increasing demand that the ethical hacking salary in India is quite lucrative. But before taking up the profession, one must be aware that the position does not just require educational qualifications and technical skills but also honesty, strong ethics, and most importantly, a willingness to learn to combat challenges.
Ethical Hacking: Skills Required
An ethical hacker must be proficient in networking databases, system handling, and operating systems. They also require soft skills required to communicate to the clients’ the problems in the organisation’s security and suggest the most efficient upgrades. Apart from these, they must possess knowledge of:
1. Network traffic sniffing
2. SQL injection
3. Orchestrate various network attacks
4. DNS spoofing
5. Exploiting buffer overflow vulnerabilities
6. Password guessing and tracking
7. Session hijacking and spoofing
An ethical hacker must have a creative mind because black hat hackers continuously look for opportunities to exploit a system in ingenious ways. They should be able to think like a black hat hacker and work with software testing teams to protect and prevent such security breaches.
Ethical Hacker Career Path
With the increase in computer hacking, government organisations, financial institutions, and renowned companies recruit skilled, ethical hackers to keep their information safe and secured. There is no shortage of ethical hacking jobs in India. As per the 2019/2020 Official Annual Cybersecurity jobs report, the demand for information security personnel will lead to an estimated 3.5 million unfilled jobs being created globally by 2021. The industry will witness a 350% growth by 2021. In India, the number is expected to rise by 77,000 in the next five years. Technical hackers can look for top companies like Dell, Google, Wipro, Reliance, Infosys, and IBM to land the highest-paid ethical hacking jobs in India.
However, an ethical hacker needs to have a legit Bachelor’s degree in information technology or an advanced diploma in network security.
Salary bands in ethical hacking vary greatly based on the companies you work for, experience levels, and educational qualifications, among other factors. Currently, the average ethical hacking salary in India is ₹501,191 /year for entry-level positions. In contrast, hackers with higher academic qualifications and excellent work experience can get up to ₹3 million annually.
A candidate who possesses the required skills and educational qualifications can pursue any of the following positions:
1. Data Security Analyst
Average Base Salary: ₹480k /year
Data security specialists or analysts are responsible for planning and executing the protection of the data present on the organisation’s computers and networks. They work closely with the employees of the organisation to educate them about security protocols.
2. Network Security Engineer
Average Base Salary: ₹517k /year
A network security engineer is responsible for maintaining the security of various networking systems of an organisation. He maintains the security system developing possible plans to bring the system back to normal even after problems created by hackers, attacks, natural disasters, or other means.
Average Base Salary: ₹691k /year
As a security auditor is responsible for providing security audits of the systems. Once done, he needs to give a detailed information report of the organisation system to the owner. This helps the network owners to make necessary changes to improve their system. A security auditor has the choice of either work alone or as a part of a team.
4. Cyber Security Analyst
Average Base Salary: ₹525k /year
A cybersecurity analyst works together with IT professionals to check on the organisation’s security measures and controls. They are responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating the network solutions by identifying the system’s vulnerability and infrastructures before any attack. Also, they perform various tests of security assessment and risk analysis to help keep the information secure. Companies hire security analysts to prevent breaches and cyber-attacks, which enables them to preserve their financial health and brand image. Since the professionals have adequate knowledge about the security procedures, they protect the company from future lapses and intrusions.
5. Penetration Tester
Average Base Salary: ₹595K/year
A penetration tester has to test various IT system procedures to identify possible system flaws. They perform a penetration test to identify the potential vulnerabilities and improper configuration by hacking into the network system and computers. These professionals are also responsible for keeping a record of their activities and discovered vulnerabilities. A penetration tester job requires competent testing skills and expertise since they employ cutting-edge testing tools to break into the systems.
6. Information Security Officer
Average Base Salary: ₹1180k /year
An information security officer is the senior manager of an organisation responsible for maintaining the enterprise strategy. They implement strategies to ensure the safety of information and technology assets. He aids the organisation staff in developing, implementing, and maintaining procedures that help reduce information leaks.
Future Scope of Ethical Hacking
The job of an ethical hacker is challenging. They help companies find possible security leaks in their systems and protect them from potential threats. They are expected to document all the steps undertaken carefully to determine the vulnerabilities in a system. Further, they might have to spend hours writing reports in clear and concise language for network owners. However, not all ethical hacking is confined to penetration testing. Many ethical hackers write examining computer codes to look for flaws.
However, with the growing need for ethical hackers in various industries, a talent gap is expected in the coming years. As per the World Economic Forum (WEF), “nowhere is the workforce-skills gap more pronounced than in cybersecurity.”
Harvard Business, in their review, commented on the plight, “The majority of chief information security officers around the world are worried about the cybersecurity skills gap, with 58 per cent of CISOs believing the problem of not having an expert cyber staff will worsen.”
As more and more businesses are realising this, almost every industry is looking to hire ethical hackers to keep their information safe and secure from possible breaches. Therefore, it is the need of the hour for aspirants in these fields to upskill themselves adequately to attract promising job opportunities.
Pavan Vadapalli, Director of Engineering @ upGrad, an ed-tech platform in India which provides data science, machine learning courses. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.