The job of ethical hackers has become critical in protecting our cyber infrastructure at a time when digital security is more important than ever. In the battle against cybercrime, unsung heroes are ethical hackers who possess the same skills as malevolent hackers but are constrained by a code of ethics. With the increasing demand for these experts, a multitude of courses and certifications for ethical hacking have surfaced, many claiming to provide budding cyber warriors with the necessary capabilities to succeed in this sector.
This article provides a thorough guide for individuals who are ready to start their road toward becoming ethical hackers by exploring the best certifications for ethical hacking accessible.
What is ethical hacking?
The act of attempting, with authorization, to compromise a system or network's security to assess its security is known as ethical hacking. By using this procedure, you may proactively make sure that systems are protected against vulnerabilities that could lead to an attack. Authorized hacking or penetration testing are other terms frequently used to describe ethical hacking.
Is There a Demand for Certified Ethical Hackers?
Ethical hackers are adept at hacking techniques since they understand how to safeguard information properly. Like malicious hackers, most seasoned ethical hackers are capable of thinking, acting, and utilizing hacking instruments. These hackers frequently employ phishing scams and social engineering techniques to get into operating systems.
Ethical hackers with proper certification for ethical hacking are among the most sought-after professionals in the field of information technology. They possess extensive experience in cryptography, footprinting, and security control monitoring within organizations.
The need for ethical hackers and security analysts to safeguard systems and data within organizations persists. In 2021, the average cost of a data breach exceeded 4.24 million dollars. The escalating frequency of data breaches has resulted in an increased demand for cybersecurity professionals.
The high demand for these experts has created numerous employment opportunities in this field, many of which remain unfilled. As per Cybercrime magazine, the number of cybersecurity jobs, including ethical hacking, is projected to reach approximately 3.5 million vacancies by 2025.
The Benefits of Earning a Certification for Ethical Hacking
Building New Offensive Security Skills: Earning a certification for ethical hacking exposes you to cutting-edge techniques and technologies employed in the field. This allows you to expand your repertoire of offensive security skills, equipping you with the knowledge and expertise to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities effectively.
Validating Your Skills to Potential Employers: Possessing a recognized certification for ethical hacking serves as tangible proof of your competence and proficiency to potential employers. It demonstrates that you have undergone rigorous training and have successfully mastered the necessary skills to excel in this role.
Enhancing Your Resume: A certification for ethical hacking adds significant value to your resume. It showcases your dedication to professional development and highlights your commitment to staying updated with the latest industry standards. This can set you apart from other candidates and make a strong impression on hiring managers.
Qualifying for New Job Opportunities: Many organizations prioritize candidates with certifications for ethical hacking when hiring for cybersecurity roles. By earning a certification for ethical hacking, you open doors to a wide range of job opportunities in both the private and public sectors. It expands your prospects and increases your chances of securing a rewarding position in this rapidly growing field.
Boosting Your Confidence on the Job: Achieving certification for ethical hacking instils a sense of confidence in your abilities. It validates your expertise and empowers you to tackle complex security challenges with assurance. This confidence translates into more effective problem-solving and an overall higher level of performance in your role as an ethical hacker.
Top certifications for Ethical Hacking
1. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification for ethical hacking is a highly valued credential in the field of information security. It validates the skills and knowledge of professionals in ethical hacking, opening doors to rewarding careers in cybersecurity. Offered by the EC-Council, a globally recognized organization, CEH equips individuals with the expertise to protect organizations from cyber threats.
This certification for ethical hacking helps you build knowledge of system vulnerabilities, conduct penetration tests, and develop effective mitigation strategies. The CEH certification is in high demand, with thousands of job search results mentioning it as a preferred qualification. To qualify for the exam, two years of work experience in information security are typically required, although this requirement can be waived by completing official EC-Council training. The cost of the certification ranges from $950 to $1,199, depending on the testing location.
2. GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
For individuals interested in the field of penetration testing, which falls under the broader category of ethical hacking, the GPEN certification presents a suitable option. Achieving the GPEN certification for ethical hacking demonstrates your proficiency in conducting penetration tests using the latest techniques and methodologies. The certification covers various essential topics, including test planning, scoping, and reconnaissance; scanning and exploitation; password attacks; and web application penetration testing.
There are no specific prerequisites to pursue the GPEN certification for ethical hacking. However, it is recommended that you have a solid understanding of networking and information security concepts. The cost of the GPEN certification exam is $1,699.
Obtaining the GPEN certification for ethical hacking signifies your mastery of penetration testing techniques and enhances your career prospects in the field of ethical hacking and cybersecurity. It is a valuable credential that showcases your expertise in identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities and ensuring the security of networks and systems.
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3. CompTIA PenTest+
CompTIA PenTest+ certification is designed for ethical hackers who specialize in testing network security and operating systems for vulnerabilities. It offers a unique blend of performance-based and multiple-choice questions in the certification exam, providing candidates with hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge. The certification covers various environments, including cloud, hybrid, on-site, web applications, and IoT, enabling candidates to perform penetration testing effectively.
While there are no specific prerequisites, having experience with CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ is recommended. Obtaining the CompTIA PenTest+ certification for ethical hacking enhances your skills in conducting penetration tests, auditing systems, and identifying security risks. It is a valuable credential that strengthens your marketability and career prospects in the field of ethical hacking. The certification cost is $392, offering a worthwhile investment for professional growth.
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4. Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification for ethical hacking is widely acknowledged as a challenging and prestigious certification for ethical hackers and penetration testers. To obtain this certification for ethical hacking, individuals must complete an online course and pass a series of OSCE exams within a specified timeframe.
The OSCP certification for ethical hacking focuses on hands-on penetration testing techniques, covering web application and network security topics. Successful completion of the certification demonstrates the ability to conduct thorough penetration tests on complex systems and large networks.
What sets OSCP apart is its rigorous evaluation, testing the true proficiency of candidates. While there are no immediate prerequisites, it is recommended to have experience in networking, bash scripting, Perl or Python programming, and Linux.
The OSCP certification for ethical hacking provides an intensive learning environment, comparing candidates' abilities to other skilled, ethical hackers. It involves a strict test environment where learners are challenged with real-world ethical hacking scenarios. The cost of the certification starts from $999.
5. Certified Security Testing Associate (CSTA)
The Certified Security Testing Associate (CSTA) certification for ethical hacking is an entry-level credential aimed at individuals new to the field of ethical hacking. Developed by 7Safe, a United Kingdom-based organization, the CSTA certification provides a foundational understanding of security testing.
The CSTA certification for ethical hacking is designed as a boot camp-style training and exam, specifically catering to information security professionals who wish to transition successfully into ethical hacking.
Becoming an ethical hacker requires a deep understanding of how hackers think and operate to mitigate attack risks effectively. However, gaining direct hands-on experience in this field can be challenging. The CSTA certification for ethical hacking addresses this challenge by focusing on security testing, which is a crucial step before embarking on the path to becoming an ethical hacker.
The CSTA exam evaluates your ability to perform various security assessments and audits on multiple systems, employing a variety of tools and techniques. Additionally, you will be expected to comprehend the interplay of these tools within a network environment and understand how they are employed during penetration testing exercises. The certification cost is 650 pounds plus VAT.
Investing in these certifications for ethical hacking not only expands your knowledge and skillset but also enhances your marketability to potential employers or clients. By obtaining these certifications, you position yourself as a competent and trusted professional in the field of ethical hacking, ready to tackle complex security challenges and safeguard networks and systems.