How do ethical hackers work


With ethical hacking, IT professionals put themselves in the role of a possible criminal hacker in order to look for security gaps in IT systems. Her role models are Robert Redford and Co. from the film “Sneakers - the silent ones”. Your opponents are, for example, the pro-Russian hacker group CyberBerkut. Among other things, the cyber criminals have confessed to the attacks on the NATO website. "Ethical" hackers use the same methods as their dodgy colleagues. But you do it on behalf of companies. Often without the knowledge of your own IT department. Good and bad hackers compete to see who can find the weak points in the network first.

Hoes for the "good guys"

Hackers are in demand as penetration testers. Mainly corporations, where attackers can cause great financial damage, rely on their services. These include banks and insurance companies, but also industrial companies and governments. When installing new software, companies often want to know whether it is secure against hacker attacks. A niche has formed here for a large number of IT security companies: They test, for example, whether you can get credit card data in online shops. Others check whether viruses or Trojans can be smuggled in to access company data. At the end, they provide the customer with a report with recommendations for action.

Fast action is required, especially in the case of security gaps, such as the Heartbleed program error. Cyber ​​criminals who target infrastructures such as power grids or power plants are particularly threatening. Energy companies therefore work regularly with third-party companies. The specialists carry out detailed penetration tests. Such tests are often even required in the banking industry, and they are standard in the credit card business. Financial institutions also voluntarily test their e-banking solution several times a year.

Computer scientists have good career opportunities

Ethical hacking, also known as White-hat hacking, is a profession with a future. Many large ICT companies such as IBM and Telekom, as well as government agencies, employ entire teams of hackers. We are constantly looking for qualified young people. Cyber ​​experts are trained at technical colleges or universities. Usually one studied computer science or mathematics. On this basis, a specialization as a penetration tester usually follows. The special hacking trade is taught either by universities or future employers through training courses and trainee positions. Suitable courses of study and job titles are available from the Federal Employment Agency. More information is available at and in the following Deutsche Welle video.