When many people think of careers in cyber security, the first thing that springs to mind is the mysterious practice of hacking. In the media this is often portrayed as vigorous typing in dark rooms almost always on the wrong side of the law. When thinking of a career option, many may have heard of ethical hacking, but does this even exist?
In short, yes, and it’s essential to global cyber security. Ethical hacking, often known as security testing or penetration testing, is the process of testing a network, system or product against specific security requirements to root out vulnerabilities and make the system stronger against not-so-ethical hackers.
Security testers that manage to gain access to a system through normally unauthorised means will then report their methods to the organisation, which will then attempt to close off those routes and strengthen the overall system. With cyber attacks reportedly set to rise in 2023, regular security testing is essential to keeping track of any vulnerabilities, and is only set to become more important as we enter an increasingly digital age. Building skills in security testing is a vital step to help the UK become one of the safest places to live and work online.
For those interested in ethical hacking, there are many ways to get started, and it’s even possible to begin without knowing how to code. Practice websites such as HackTheBox and TryHackMe can help beginners hone their skills. While technical skills like knowledge of network security and malware technologies are important, it’s also important for security testers to understand the laws around cyber security, and the capabilities of malicious hackers.
As a specialism, security testing can be a great starting point to progress in a cyber security role. Career progression can look like moving into cyber threat intelligence, incident response and digital forensics. Earlier this year, the Council launched its security testing pilot programme, creating the first opportunity for cyber professionals to become chartered practitioners in this area.
So, while ethical hacking may not always look like a heist movie, it can be an entry into the cyber security sector with excellent career progression opportunities, whether within the security testing specialism or branching out into others.
To learn more about careers in security testing, visit: https://www.ukcybersecuritycouncil.org.uk/careers-and-learning/cyber-career-framework/security-testing/