Using ethical hacking to counter hacking may seem counterintuitive, but this is where the maximum protection of corporate systems comes from. For a straightforward reason: thinking and acting like a cybercriminal allows you to prevent his moves. Not that we need to go back to the age-old question of good and bad hackers. More simply, cybercriminals use black hat techniques and tools that are the same used throughout the hacking world. And this is exactly where ethical hacking comes to the rescue.
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Hacking, but with different purposes
The dividing point between black hacking and ethical hacking is only for the two hemispheres’ purposes. In the first, profit is pursued on the path of real crime, while in the second, profit is regulated precisely by well-defined ethical and legal boundaries. And it is precisely from this assumption that one can understand why ethical hacking is one of the main tools in the fight against cybercrime. But in practical terms, what risks the business if ethical hacking is not exploited?
Attacks on the rise
According to the most recent CLUSIT report, 86% of cyberattacks have criminal purposes, and the trend has been growing for several years now. There is no precise data, but just to give an example, in 2022, the Postal Police surveyed 126 attacks on the financial systems of medium-large companies for over 36 million euros stolen. And we only talk about events reported and related to a single sector. Frequency, severity, and economic size of the attacks are the parameters that show how probable it is now for an Italian company to fall victim to them.
Not just economic damage
Becoming a victim of a cyber attack is not limited to economic damage alone, however critical. There are, in fact, other parameters to consider which, especially today, are of strategic importance. First of all, the damage to the image is severe when corporate assets or the personal information of customers and partners are compromised. And then, consequently, the damages due to non-compliance, such as the GDPR. In this case, insult is added to the damage since the victim risks paying rather heavy legal consequences.
Ethical hacking as prevention
Giving up ethical hacking means exposing yourself to all these risks because you give up the possibility of anticipating the moves of cyber criminals. Ethical hacking, in fact, if carried out by qualified personnel equipped with a piece of adequate baggage of knowledge and tools, makes it possible to carry out tests capable of verifying, like no other, the possibilities of attack by cybercriminals. In this case, we are talking about the well-known penetration tests, i.e., complex procedures which are not limited to detecting the weak points of the system but also try to exploit them to understand how far the attacker can go.
How ethical hacking works
Ethical hacking comes into play at this stage. After careful discussions with the company, a group of specialists established the scope and methods of the tests. Then, after planning every detail of the activity, they start a series of checks to detect all the points where it is possible to launch an attack. Then they move on to exploiting vulnerabilities. Finally, based on the results, a detailed report is drawn up, allowing the company to understand where to intervene to shield the systems.
On the right side
If performed by professional, ethical hackers, the whole process uses the same techniques as cyber criminals. But on the right side. After the necessary intervention on the weak points by the company, it will no longer find the usual entry points and will be forced to aim toward other objectives. For all these reasons, ethical hacking is now an essential choice for any company that wants to systematically and organically protect itself from attacks by cybercriminals, anticipating their moves and playing on its own table.