How to Earn a Living as an Ethical Hacker?

Réfi Balázs

January 3, 2022

How much money does an Ethical Hacker make? Who is who in this world, what is he/she doing and with whom? Know more!

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Hoodie, graphic t-shirt, jeans, dark colors, backpack, sitting alone in the basement in front of the computer. This is how most movies portray hackers. Remember the programmer in Mr. Robot for instance, or the main character in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or the Hungarian TV series Hacktion.

Many films feature hacker characters (black hat hackers), but what defines a white hat (ethical) hacker?

Ethical hacker - Bluebird blog

Let’s Start at the Beginning: What is Hacking?

Hacking is the act of gaining unauthorized access to computers or other IT resources. Furthermore, hacking entails the unauthorized manipulation of electronic devices.

To be successful at hacking, one needs a great deal of specialized knowledge. There are indeed hacker levels ranging from the most inexperienced to the most knowledgeable.

For example, anyone can run scripts or programs that authenticate into a Wi-Fi network on a user level (we call them script kiddies). Using this method, we could gain access to a password-protected WI-FI network that we do not control or own.

We're talking about knowledge on a different level if we write a program that can crack an unknown Wi-Fi password. Knowing how to crack Wi-Fi passwords (which is still not considered complex code) makes it more likely that someone won't run an unknown code because they are well aware that it could contain nasty viruses (for example we could install a nice little password-stealing program on our computer).

When is hacking permissible, and when is it not permissible? That's what sets ethical hackers apart from the rest of the pack. If we use the aforementioned programs lawfully, we can call ourselves ethical hackers (The following section will go over the rest of the requirements). Running them without permission is a crime. Most importantly, all of our readers are kindly requested to stay on the moral side of things!

What are the Main Differences Between Ethical and Non-Ethical Hackers?

Ethical Hacker

(white hat hacker)

  • Has permission to run their code
  • A contract governs their activities
  • Their objective is finding security holes so those could be repaired
  • Perform their job as a profession
  • They are regulated in their actions

Non-Ethical Hacker

(black hat hacker)

  • Doesn’t have permission
  • The non-ethical hacker's activity is illegal
  • Their objective is breaching security to make profit
  • Performs the job as a hobby or to make money 
  • They are not regulated in any way

Other « Types » of Hackers

Grey hat hackers are those who look for security holes and report them to the system's administrators. After informing the victim, they offer their help, in most cases in exchange for money of course.

Even more types of hackers:

  • Blue hat hacker: Their objective is testing, attacking new systems prior they are introduced to the market.
  • Green hat hacker: Newbie, beginner hacker.
  • Script kiddie: They use programs for hacking written by someone else.

In Europe, there were several cases of grey hat hacking in the past years, with the consequence of filing a lawsuit against the hacker by the “attacked” company.

Ethical hacker - Bluebird

The Ethical Hacker

Since the term "ethical hacker" was first used, the picture of hackers has become increasingly clear. As security experts, they help build safe systems on behalf of their employers. Hackers who don't want to take advantage of security flaws, but rather fix them. In general, their goal is to make the system as secure as possible against attacks by breaking in and looking for the system's vulnerabilities. If there is a problem, then they will suggest a solution. To prevent a real hacker or code-cracker attack, this is the best way to close security holes.

As a result, anyone can learn to hack ethically if they are willing to put in the time and effort. Those with a genuine interest in getting into systems and discovering security flaws but no malicious intent can probably become system penetration testers. Hacking is probably a fun job for them because of the challenge. 58 percent of hackers, according to the 2018 Hacking Report, didn't learn their skills in schools, but the majority of them received IT training.

CEH is a highly sought-after and well-regarded certification (Certified Ethical Hacker). In general, the most sought-after hacker has to have experience in breach and attack simulation, vulnerability analysis, mobile app development, decoding and reverse engineering, to name a few areas. They must also take part in incident-reaction processes and be open to new solutions at all times.

Penetration testers, security analysts, information security advisors, and network security experts are all examples of what is meant by the term "ethical hacker." Many businesses use two different types of teams when recruiting. Team blue is in charge of safeguarding the company's IT systems, while team red is in charge of infiltrating the network from within.

Why are Ethical Hackers Used?

Preventive measures for security breaches.

  • Protecting customer information.
  • Security awareness on every level of business.
  • Systematic and periodic testing of networks.
  • The certified ethical hackers must report if a (security) issue occurs.
  • They are aware of the most recent technologies and methods.
  • Loss reduction or prevention.

Jobs in IT Security

Aside from the position of an ethical hacker, many other positions exist in the field of IT security.

It is important to remember that "ethical hacker" is a collective noun, not an individual noun. While most people think of a deviant developer when they hear the term "ethical hacker," there are many different jobs and tasks that fall into this category.

IT jobs and IT projects at Bluebird
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Let’s see what are the keywords to search for if you are looking for a job in IT security!

Ethical hacking specialist - Bluebird

Leader/Manager Jobs

Cyber Security Manager or IT Security Manager

In short, a cyber security manager's job is to set up and oversee the proper operation of security guidelines and procedures. Additionally, they are responsible for ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to the systems and that no security holes exist.

Generally, they coordinate the systematic assessment of security risks and data protection by their level of confidentiality.

Their core leadership responsibilities, they must train, lead, coordinate, and also motivate a team.

Ethical hacking specialist - Bluebird

Architect Jobs

Corporate IT Security Architect or Infrastructure Security Architect

The architects establish the security standards and conventions of a company or an infrastructure, moreover designing and verifying company security systems. Their role is to create, supervise and maintain IT security processes and procedures design architecture elements, undertake security mapping to avoid any security breach due to vulnerabilities.

Additionally, they are responsible for the risk assessment of new technologies and solutions.

Ethical hacking specialist - Bluebird

Consultant/Analyst Jobs

Information Security Consultant, Information Security Analyst, Information Security Expert or Cyber Security Analyst

Their role is to design, implement, and participate in the operation of information technology security applications, including responding to security incidents, enforcing security regulations, moreover identifying and resolving discrepancies.

Moreover, they are responsible for performing follow-up inspections in the event of an incident, making necessary modifications, and defining and planning intervention points. In addition, Their duties include preventing data leaks and reporting issues they find.

Ethical hacking specialist - Bluebird

Ethical Hacker jobs

Ethical Hacker, Application Security Engineer, Ethical Hacking Specialist or Security Engineer

They are responsible for identifying vulnerabilities, identifying and assessing risks, conducting and evaluating penetration tests, furthermore advising on countermeasures.

Additionally, they are responsible for rooting and jailbreaking devices, as well as for penetrating networks, information technology devices, and applications, and for strengthening system defenses.

Ethical hacking specialist - Bluebird

Tester Jobs

Security Testing Engineer or Penetration Tester

Testing applications, systems, networks and their vulnerabilities, documenting test results. Discovering security holes, active and passive data collecting, and testing network infrastructures and endpoints are also part of their work.

Ethical hacking specialist - Bluebird

Operator Jobs

Security Administrator or Security Solution Administrator

Protecting against security breaches and managing antimalware solutions, running virus management solutions, furthermore completing operational tasks by company protocol and house rules.

Other responsibilities include network, system, and application monitoring, incident management, also completing updates, repairs, and version updates. They also participate in incident management.

The Most Important Ethical Hacker Certificates

Certified Ethical Hacker - Bluebird

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Recently, the CEH exam is one of the most widely used and accepted qualifications for ethical hackers. Students receive theoretical and practical training before passing the final exam. In short, they learn about the various types of attacks that can affect an information technology system (application, system, and infrastructure), the different types of breaches, and how to identify and repel them.

In addition, the curriculum covers detection and defense against passwords, spy programs, backdoor techniques, DOS, DDOS, hijacking, attacks on web servers, buffer overflows, and penetration tests.

Preparation for the exam and the opportunity to sit for it are also available through higher education and corporate training programs.

Certified Ethical Hacker - Bluebird

Other Ethical Hacker Certificates

Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)

Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)

Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Licenced Penetration Tester (EPT)

Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES)

GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)

Certified Information System Auditor (CISA)

Ethical Hacker Salaries in Hungary

Last updated: 6th April 2021

In Hungary, the various IT security positions are referred to by a variety of names. It is worthwhile to read both the description and the title, because it is frequently the specific tasks that assist in comprehending the true nature of the job title.

Manager and Architect Salaries

Nowadays, managers and architects will find a job with a salary between 1.2 and 2 million HUF before tax. Overall, we think that they will be more and more in-demand.

This includes: Information Security Architect, Information Security Manager

Engineer and Advisor

Experts in these positions can earn between 800.000 and 1.5 million HUF before tax.

This includes: Cyber Security Engineer, Information Security Engineer, Security Consultant

Analyst, Tester

Analysts and penetration testers may find a job paying between 600.000 and 1 million HUF before tax.

This includes: Information Security Analyst, Cyber Security Analyst, Penetration Tester

A Window to the World- Ethical Hackers in the USA

Among the surveys on ethical hacker salaries, we find payscale.com's to be the most well-organized. It is critical to note that the salaries listed below are annual in USD and should be interpreted globally for the United States of America. (There may be a difference of 9-24% between states.)

Average Hacker Salaries

Ethical hacker salaries - Bluebird

Source: Payscale.com

Salaries According to Positions (from Entry-Level to Senior)

In other words, how much are ethical hackers worth for their employers.

Source: Payscale.com

Ethical hacker salary - Bluebird blog

Ethical Hacker Network

While the majority of ethical hackers prefer to work alone, they have also established an online community and a magazine. The Ethical Hacker Network is its name. Additionally, they have their hashtag, #TogetherWeHitHarder. According to a survey from Hacker report from 2018, ethical hackers earn 2.7 times as much as software development engineers in their home country. Besides, recent challenges include risks associated with cloud applications and security concerns.

If you have a sudden appetite for development, then look for an IT position on Bluebird’s site!

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Sources:

https://blog.crosssec.com/mi-az-az-etikus-hackeles-es-miert-fontos

https://etikushacker.info

https://www.techopedia.com/definition/16089/ethical-hacker

https://www.itpro.co.uk/641470/so-you-want-to-be-an-ethical-hacker

https://www.simplilearn.com/ethical-hackers-for-businesses-article

https://www.hackerone.com/sites/default/files/2018-01/2018_Hacker_Report.pdf

https://www.origo.hu/gazdasag/20181213-akar-felmillio-dollart-is-kereshet-egy-etikus-hacker.html

http://www.itsecure.hu/etikus_hack?gclid=CjwKCAjw8-LnBRAyEiwA6eUMGgWRIh72Gsc1s0B9Y8BCPIPPbMCMrrwTM2swGU4TfU6XE2rdSAL9FhoCS54QAvD_BwE

https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Ethical_Hacker/Salary