Is hacker school the answer to filling the shortage in demand for Cyber Security Experts?
Hackers who are certified hackers thanks to hacker school certifications are a desired HR resource! if viruses, DDoS attacks, or buffer overflows interest you, consider becoming a legal hacker, “white hat” hacker, or penetration tester.
Businesses and government-related organizations that are serious about their network security hire legal hackers and penetration testers to help probe and improve their networks, applications, and other computer systems with the ultimate goal of preventing data theft and fraud. Legal hackers can earn a good and honest living–and not end up facing prison time, as some illegal “black hat” hackers do.
How does the job market look like for legal hackers? Extremely good! The IT market overall continues to grow despite the current economic turmoil. Research firm Gartner estimates that worldwide enterprise IT spending is growing by 5.9% between annually, to a total of $2.7 trillion. At the same time, security is becoming a more pressing concern. Gartner expects to see an increase of nearly 40% in spending on worldwide security services during a five-year period, eventually surpassing $49.1 billion.
In your first years as a legal hacker, you’ll be in a position to earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per year, depending on the company that hires you, and on your IT experience and education. With several years of professional experience, you could command $120,000 or more per year, especially if you do your own independent consulting. You can’t just dive into an legal hacker position, however. Without IT security experience, you won’t get very far, even with degrees and certifications. As is true for other IT jobs, employers typically want candidates who have college degrees, but related experience is king. And experience with certifications can typically take the place of some degree requirements.
Beginning Hacker School Education
What you need to do to get started on the road to becoming a legal hacker depends on where you are in the IT field. If you haven’t started your IT career yet, you might even consider military service. The military offers many IT opportunities. Military service also looks good to employers that require security clearances.
Earn your A+ Certification and get a tech support position. After some experience and additional certification (Network+ or CCNA), move up to a network support or admin role, and then to network engineer after a few years.
Next, put some time into earning security certifications (Security+, CISSP, or TICSA) and find an information security position. While you’re there, try to concentrate on penetration testing–and get some experience with the tools of the trade.
Then work toward the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification offered by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council for short). At that point, you can start marketing yourself as a legal hacker that completed hacker school.
For a hacker, networking know-how is vital; but make sure that you gain experience in related areas as well. Discover and play with Unix/Linux commands and distributions. Make sure you also learn some programming–maybe C, LISP, Perl, or Java. And spend some time with databases such as SQL.
Legal hackers also need street smarts, people skills, and even some talent for manipulation, since at times they need to be able to persuade others to disclose credentials, restart or shut down systems, execute files, or otherwise knowingly or unknowingly help them achieve their ultimate goal. You’ll need to master this aspect of the job, which people in the business sometimes call “social engineering,” to become a well-rounded ethical hacker.
Hacker School Certification
Becoming a Certified Hacker (CEH) involves earning the appropriate credential from the EC-Council after a few years of security-related IT experience. The certification will help you understand security from the mindset of a hacker. You’ll learn the common types of exploits, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures.
You can find simple hacking how-tos, which may motivate you even more. Consider downloading the Firefox add-on Firesheep or the Android app Droidsheep, and hijack your online accounts via Wi-Fi (but don’t use these tools to hijack others’ accounts–you could find yourself in legal trouble if you do).
Another option is to experiment with the BackTrack live CD. Try enabling WEP security on your wireless router at home, and then take a stab at cracking it. Check out Hack This Site to test and expand your skills. You could even set up a Linux box with Apache or buy a used Cisco router and see what you can do with it. If you want to play with malware, consider downloading–cautiously, and at your own risk–a malware DIY kit or a keylogger, and use it to experiment on a separate old PC or virtual machine.
And remember, never attack or intrude on anyone else’s network or computers without full written permission.