Modern technology uses the term “hacking” to describe expert programmers breaking into the computers of targeted organizations or individuals. The attackers exploit weak security or plant bugs, malware, etc., within the system or network to take control of it.
Effectively managing the risk that comes with inadequate cybersecurity protections is an ongoing part of every business operations environment. The threat landscape is constantly transforming. Some cyber security risk management techniques are useful in ethical hacking, and we’ll see through some of the relevant aspects of ethical hacking and cybersecurity risk management techniques.
Why rely on ethical hacking?
Among today's most serious cyber-crimes is hacking. An unethical hacker or criminal can hack into a company's network and steal data, violate a company's policies, or steal passwords using algorithms. Although, it is important to understand that all hackers’ intentions are not unethical. There are ethical hackers who can have authorized penetration into the system for ethical reasons involving attempts to detect vulnerabilities in an application or organization’s infrastructure by also bypassing system security to find out possible data breaches and threats/risks in a network. During ethical hacking, vulnerabilities are found and fixed to improve the compliance levels and security of networks or systems.
By identifying weak points in a network or system, ethical hackers seek to protect the system from malicious hacking. They can improve security footprints to make them more resilient to attack or to divert them. Information is collected and analysed to identify ways to enhance system/network/application security. There are numerous industries and sectors in which ethical hacking can be applied by security professionals. There are several spheres within this category, such as network security, risk management, and quality assurance testing. The most obvious benefit of ethical hacking is that it can provide valuable information and improve and protect corporate networks. A convenient risk management software can also prove to be a powerful risk assessment driver along with hacking techniques.
Risk management creates better business value and enhances operational excellence. This practice helps the organization determine where they need more attention, what needs to be improved, and what needs to be changed/replaced. Integrated with your existing administrative/network/management office processes, risk management provides context for understanding performance and contributes to health checks, peer reviews and audits. Risks can be identified and assessed by the right people at the right time with the help of a defined process, allowing early action to be taken to overcome possible problems.
Through an effective risk management practice, enterprises can identify areas of difficulty/ uncertainty within a process and take necessary and updated steps to mitigate them, ensuring that they are addressed quickly and successfully. The purpose of this method is to prevent problems from being overlooked during the hectic schedule of a project or process - especially when those problems are difficult. A problem can be mitigated by intervening as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming too severe to handle.
When risks are managed before they materialize, you will have fewer “hard phases” and can run your business more efficiently, effectively, and economically. It is clear that horizontal integration of operational risk disciplines and vertical integration of strategy and operations are needed in today’s data-rich business scenario. In addition to being a regulatory requirement in some industries and countries, risk management provides a reduction of uncertainty for the future, learning and improvement, better awareness, and a method for making reasonable decisions that are capable of developing a resilient culture.
How does ethical hacking manage potential risks/threats?
No data exploitation, but rather identifies and fills gaps and provides intelligible solutions
Ethical hacking or penetration testing tries to determine how far they can penetrate a system network and if they can access and interpret sensitive data or information that should never be accessible or if anyone can misuse the information. It is beneficial for the organization to hack into the network to see whether anyone is able to access sensitive critical information and to find a way to better make it secure by locking the respective network so that no one can steal sensitive information, which can be a very crucial threat to the organizational flow.
Hacking leads to further development
Ethical hacking primarily stays on top of security search so that they can systematically detect the present flaws in the respective company’s protocols, products, etc., and therefore determine persistent solutions, approaches and better technologies to make things easier and sort out the maze. Their penetration testing can simplify issues and bring in new and updated technology system solutions deployment.
How do hacking experts operate on potential risks?
Hacking professionally commonly follows these vital protocols/approaches to operate on potential risks and save the organization from uncertainties:
- Stay ethical – They look for authorized approval from the respective authority before checking in the system and performing any security assessment and risk analysis.
- Determine the assessment purview- Define the scope of the assessment so they can ensure that their ethical hacking is provenly legal and within the protocols and boundaries of the organization’s rules, laws and other important frameworks.
- Identify and report risks and vulnerabilities– Ethical hacking can identify possible threats and vulnerabilities, both present and upcoming. The hackers can then notify the enterprise of all the listed vulnerabilities discovered during the assessment/analysis. They can also advise appropriate remediation measures and approaches for figuring out possible solutions.
- Data sensitivity- Depending on the severity of the data compromised, ethical hackers may be required to sign non-disclosure agreements in addition to other terms and conditions.
Why are Risk Management techniques relevant to Ethical Hacking?
A cyber risk assessment is a method of identifying, analyzing, and assessing risks and it aids in ensuring that the cyber security controls that the enterprise chooses are on par with the risk that the enterprise faces. That is, the controls must be in place.
Vulnerability assessment and pentesting enable the identification of the potential risks, threats, and vulnerabilities. Working on mitigating them can of course reduce the security issues and incidents. So, what are vulnerability assessment and pen testing? In the former method, the system is evaluated for any known vulnerabilities, severity levels are assigned for those vulnerabilities, and remediation or mitigation recommendations are provided when necessary. Threats like SQL injection, other code injection attacks, XSS, etc., are some examples of threats that can be reduced or dismissed by effectively conducting vulnerability assessments. This technique has proven to be one of the most efficient for identifying, as well as analysing, potential security holes in the system.
It is based on the priorities defined during the analysis phase that the vulnerability remediation phase takes place, and this requires the active participation of all stakeholders involved. It is important to deploy additional cybersecurity tools as part of the mitigation process. A variety of measures, such as real-time antivirus scanners, remote firewalls, and predictive artificial intelligence threat detection, can be used to accomplish this.
A powerful cyber security posture cannot be achieved without regular vulnerability assessments. A company's digital infrastructure is so complex and there are so many vulnerabilities that companies are almost certain to have at least one unpatched vulnerability that puts them at risk. A costly and embarrassing data breach or ransomware infection can be avoided by identifying these vulnerabilities before an attacker does. The users can even automate the process with this method. It is possible to significantly reduce your cyber security risk by acquiring the right tools and performing regular vulnerability scans.
The latter, i.e., the pen testing or penetration testing method of cyber risk assessment or say, one of the commonly used risk management techniques for ethical hacking, is a simulated cyber-attack technique conducted to check for susceptible vulnerabilities. A pen test effectively provides valuable insights into how well the aim of eliminating dangerous security flaws is achieved. Penetration testing enables organizations to recognize weaknesses/security breaches in the systems and determine the strength of existing controls. This method also supports regulatory compliance with respect to data privacy and security aspects.
Depending on the objectives of a pen test, testers are provided with different levels of data or information required for the process or access to the respective system. Sometimes, one approach is followed from start to end by the testing team. But there are also cases when they evolve the strategy depending on the awareness of the system in depth and changing system requirements.
There is another method, cybersecurity gap analysis, which also is a security risk analysis process. A cybersecurity gap analysis program will invent an organization's existing cybersecurity protections, assess and evaluate the threat/vulnerabilities to the business, and then detect if there are any gaps between the protections in place and what's required in order to stay resilient to expected/ foreseen attacking methods. A penetration test is a good idea once the gaps in the cybersecurity program have been analyzed and fixed. In this process, real-world attack techniques can be used to test whether the company's cybersecurity protections are working properly.
It is important for ethical hacking professionals as well as business stakeholders to be aware of the major risk management techniques involved in ethical hacking, which is intended to enhance organizational cybersecurity which can thereby enhance overall business performance and functional excellence.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Akhila Nasneem is young aspiring brand communications and digital marketing enthusiast. She loves to write blogs, and advertising brand content and is curious about work-a-day organizational concepts. Creating illustrations and befriending movies are her other active pursuits.
- Hakin9 is a monthly magazine dedicated to hacking and cybersecurity. In every edition, we try to focus on different approaches to show various techniques - defensive and offensive. This knowledge will help you understand how most popular attacks are performed and how to protect your data from them. Our tutorials, case studies and online courses will prepare you for the upcoming, potential threats in the cyber security world. We collaborate with many individuals and universities and public institutions, but also with companies such as Xento Systems, CATO Networks, EY, CIPHER Intelligence LAB, redBorder, TSG, and others.
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