How to Become a White Hat Hacker: What Education do I Need?

How to Become a White Hat Hacker: What Education do I Need?

Recent events in the news have shown that network security is more of a concern for both private and government entities than in has ever been. Those who are serious about their network vulnerabilities take a proactive approach and try to find them before hackers and other ill-intentioned individuals can exploit them.

However, to find these vulnerabilities you need to be able to think like the people who are seeking them out. This is where ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers, appears.

Possessed of the same skill-set as the kinds of hackers who exploit vulnerabilities for personal gain, white hat professionals help organizations assess and strengthen their network security against these bad actors. White hat hackers are likely to work primarily as tech consultants or information systems analysts. 

Let’s take a look at what it takes to become a white hat hacker and what education you’ll need to get there.

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What Does A White Hat Hacker Do?

While many information systems security personnel work to set up countermeasures against hacking, ethical hackers work backward against them my finding vulnerabilities using the same methods that black hat hackers do. These methods may include:

  • Trojans
  • Viruses
  • Social Engineering
  • Worms
  • Network Enumeration
  • SQL Injection
  • Denial of Service (DoS)
  • Brute Force Hacking

A white hat hacker will try to get into a system using any means necessary, whether using well-known cyber-attack tools or creating their own. While it might sound a little shady, these troubleshooting steps are essential to a network security analyst's ability to do their job.

How To Become A White Hat Hacker

If you want to be a white hat hacker, you need to know the tools of the trade. Experience and knowledge of information technology is a prerequisite. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is a similar field. Experience and certifications are also important in the the world of cybersecurity.

Once you’ve worked in cybersecurity for a few years and have both the skills and education to feel comfortable in your position, you might want to go further. The good news is that there are master’s degrees and even PhDs in cybersecurity, which can help you determine next steps. 

What Is the Government Path Like?

An ethical hacker is likely to go into either a government or private sector path. The military is a great proving ground for many IT professionals in their cyber warfare divisions, which is open even to reservists and National Guard members. This is also perhaps the easiest way to attain a government security clearance that will translate to civil service positions. There are thousands of government organizations that are moving to update and upgrade their systems after several incidents and increasingly sophisticated enemies.

Ethical Hacking In The Private Sector

Beginning in the private sector can be challenging. Unlike government jobs, the private sector is adverse to the costs associated with training their entry-level candidates. A true talent for systems and databases such as Unix/Linux and SQL might catch the eye of recruiters and programming/coding skills can be demonstrated in entry level coding positions. This may be a bumpy road and there can be some dead ends, so always be using free time to attain higher education and additional certifications to separate yourself from the competition.

Challenges Of A Unique Field

If you are the kind of person who is looking for a challenge, this field could be perfect for you. Ethical hacking is challenging and tends to attract individuals who love the challenge of proving and disproving security measures in encrypted network systems. It is a test of intellect, patience, creativity, and persistence. One of the biggest challenges is "staying legal" by always accessing only systems and information of entities that you have contracted with. This is growing ever more difficult in an electronically interconnected world, and a successful ethical hacker knows how to toe this line.

Are you interested in working in cybersecurity? If you want to become a white hat hacker you will need to earn a degree in the field, such as a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer and Information Science with a Major in Cyber and Network Security - Cybersecurity Track. ECPI University offers this degree program at an accelerated rate, helping students to graduate sooner and start looking for work faster. For more information about this exciting degree program, connect with a friendly admissions representative today.

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