Did you know that you can legally make a living as a hacker? This is called ethical hacking and helps maintain the stability, upgradability and security of your software.
Unfortunately, over the years, the popular media has generated a lot of misinformation associated with the term “hacker”. Especially today when you think of a hacker, you can imagine a shadowy figure and not doing any good on the internet.
Well if you think that way too, I invite you to read this article and rethink everything you’ve been taught about hacking.
There are individuals with good intentions who may work directly with the company in a legitimate way and always work on various projects to improve. These professionals are called ethical hackers, but their mission is to find fixable security problems rather than exploit them.
And one thing that few know is that you can even make a living as an ethical hacker! Doubt? Stay with me and I’ll show you how.
And how is it possible to earn a living as a good hacker?
Earlier I said that an ethical hacker can work finding problems in the most diverse applications.
We call this function Penetration Test or just Pentest.
And what is done in a Pentest? It is a way to detect and exploit existing vulnerabilities in systems. That is, to simulate attacks in general that could be carried out by malicious attackers.
These assessments are useful for validating the effectiveness of the application’s defense mechanisms and the servers behind it.
Testing can be performed manually, but is usually supported by automated tools.
First, the objective is to assess the consequences that security breaches may have on the resources or operations involved. This is possible because Pentest quickly detects where the web/mobile system is most vulnerable, allowing the team to correct whatever is necessary after testing.
However, these tests are not limited to assets that work electronically. Often the professional, after verifying the lack of weaknesses due to good development practices, still performs tests on humans and this type of attack we call social engineering.
But for all this to happen in a professional way, first of all, a series of requirements are necessary. So that there is no misunderstanding.
The step by step to perform a Pentest and earn a living as Good hacker
Before carrying out a pentesting, it is not just a matter of wanting to carry out tests, first of all, a series of questions must be settled between the parties.
It is essential for any professional pentest to document the agreed scope and objectives. These are the types of scoping questions you need to ask:
So pay attention to these questions.
First, what computer assets are in the scope of testing?
Does it include all computers, just a certain application or service, certain operating system platforms or mobile devices, and cloud services?
Does the scope only include a certain type of computer asset, such as web servers, SQL servers, all computers at a host OS level, and are network devices included?
Can pentesting include automated vulnerability scanning?
Is social engineering allowed, and if so, what methods?
On what dates will pentesting be allowed?
Are there days or hours when pentesting should not be attempted to avoid unintended interruptions or service interruptions?
Should pentesters do their best to cause service interruptions or cause any kind of problems that a real attacker might do, including service interruptions, a crucial part of testing?
Will the pentester be black box (meaning the pentester will have few or no internal details of the systems or applications involved)?
Or will it be white box (meaning it will have inside knowledge of the attacked systems, possibly involving relevant source code)?
Will computer security advocates be told about the pentest, or will part of the test be to see if defenders notice?
During the invasion attempt, if discovered by the defenders, will they be able to activate security protocols and use normal methods to avoid the attack?
The step by step to perform a Pentest and make a living as a hacker
I certainly know there were a lot of questions, but we still have a few more! So nobody said it would be easy, right?
Is denial of service considered an in-scope goal?
Is accessing a particular computer or extracting data part of the goal or simply getting privileged enough access?
What should be submitted as part of the documentation after the test is complete?
Should it include all the failed and successful hacking methods, or just the most important hacks?
How much detail is needed, every keystroke and mouse click or just short descriptions? Do hackers need to be captured on video and screenshots?
It is important that the scope and objectives are described in detail and agreed upon prior to any attempt at a pentesting.
Discovery: Learn about your target
At first every ethical hacker starts hacking their assets (excluding social engineering techniques for this discussion) by learning as much as possible about the pentesting targets.
They want to know IP addresses, operating systems, applications, versions, patch levels, users, and anything else that could lead to an exploit.
It’s a rarity that an ethical hacker doesn’t see an obvious potential vulnerability by spending just a few minutes looking at an asset. At the very least, even if they don’t see something obvious, they can use the information learned in discovery for ongoing analysis and attack attempts.
Exploration: Invade the target asset
Beforehand, using the information learned in the discovery phase, the practitioner needs to exploit a vulnerability to gain unauthorized access or denial of service, if that is the goal. Ultimately, if the hacker cannot break into a specific asset, he must try other assets within the scope.
Be that as it may, it is not common for a professional who is unable to invade an asset for which he was hired, usually this only occurs after his report has been delivered and allows the defender to close all the flaws found.
There are certainly professionals who don’t always find exploits and fulfill their hacking goals, but if you carry out the discovery process thoroughly enough. In fact, the exploration part won’t be as difficult as many people believe. So being a good pentester or hacker is less about being a genius and more about patience and thoroughness.
In principle, depending on the vulnerability and exploit, the access now gained may require “privilege escalation” to transform normal user access into superior administrative access. However, this may require a second exploit to be used, but only if the initial exploit has not yet given the attacker privileged access.
Depending on what’s in the project, vulnerability discovery can be automated using exploit or vulnerability scanning software. In fact, this type of software often finds vulnerabilities, but does not exploit them to gain unauthorized access.
Soon after, the pentester performs the agreed target action if they are at their final destination or uses the currently explored computer to gain access closer to their final destination.
Ultimately, pentesters and advocates call this “horizontal” or “vertical” movement, depending on whether the attacker moves within the same system class or out to unrelated systems.
Document the pentesting effort
In principle, the ethical hacker’s goal must be proven to have been achieved, such as revealing system secrets or confidential data or the mere documentation of how this could have been successfully accomplished is sufficient.
Lastly, the professional pentester must write and present the agreed report, including findings and conclusions.
How to make money as an Ethical Hacker?
In short, when it comes to ethical hacking, there are many ways to make money, and here we are going to cover a few. In the meantime, if you want to know which ways an Ethical Hackers make large sums of money working remotely. See this article where I talk about hackers making over 1 million dollars a year.
1. Bug bounty programs
Beforehand one of the main ways ethical hackers make money is bounty programs called Bug Bounty. Anyway, this has been the main way many companies offer cash rewards to hackers who find vulnerabilities in their projects and let them know.
In order to protect yourself, many companies have created reward programs, which pay varying amounts depending on the severity of the problem you encounter.
For examples of some programs you can look into, we have a list of amazing Bug Bounty bounty programs to make money. Anyway, if you consider looking for bugs in popular apps on the Google Play Store.
Google recently started paying cash to hackers who find security issues in Android apps. So there is a huge opportunity right now to make money by finding vulnerabilities in a wide variety of applications.
2. Pwn2Own and similar events
There are also live hacking events where ethical hackers come together to hack a certain device or software.
The Pwn2Own event, for example, is one of the biggest hacking events and takes place every year at the CanSecWest security conference. Participants are tasked with hacking a device such as a phone, a MacBook or even a car like a Tesla.
If they manage to hack the device, they win.
Pwn2Own also offers cash prizes for hacking software such as web browsers, enterprise applications and servers. The event has a great award and the results are also published by the technical press. That means it’s a great place for new hackers to make a name for themselves, as well as to meet others in the community and network with ethical hackers. If you want to know more about Pwn2Own see more here .
3. Consulting to companies
Another great source of income for ethical hackers is security consulting. A company may hire a hacker to test its security system or advise on a new version of its product.
If you are known as a competent and professional hacker, many companies will come to you with job offers that can be freelance or long-term.
At first glance, if you’ve never done hacking before, you can learn the basic skills at any age. In this sense, some people think that it is mandatory to obtain a university degree in the field of technology. However, most college courses don’t teach much programming. Even if they do, they probably won’t teach hacking skills.
This is not to say that computer courses are not useful. But they teach a broad overview of computing problems. They don’t specifically prepare you for a hacking job.
To learn how to hack, almost everything you need can be found on the internet, but if you don’t have time to waste and don’t want to be looking for random materials. I’ll leave here a golden tip! We Hackzone, have a complete “PRIME” platform with all the courses that a true ethical hacker needs for their development. There we update weekly with new classes
But if you already have knowledge and are looking for specialization through a certification, I recommend you the best that a hacker needs to become a true expert. I’m talking about CEH Certified Ethical Hacker is a training aimed at those who want to become the best.
You might also want to learn how to use hacking tools and make a living.
Just like Burp or OWASP Zap, which can help you perform specific types of hacks.
How to transition from a job to making a living as an ethical hacker.
One of the perks of engaging in ethical hacking is that it’s something you can do alongside your normal job.
So if you are interested in hacking and making a living, you can start looking for bugs in your spare time after work or on weekends. So if you find a bug and submit it to a Bug Bounty program, you can start earning some extra cash.
An important tip to note is that the report you write and submit to a bug bounty program is almost as important as finding the bug itself.
First, your report should clearly establish what vulnerability you found and how you were able to exploit it. Be clear and specific. This gives you the best chance of getting paid.
As you become more experienced with Bug Bounty programs, you will learn how much revenue you can expect. This way you will have an idea of how many hours of work it will take to pay your reward. In that sense, when you feel confident that you can earn a steady income from ethical hacking, you can try part-time or even full-time.
It can be daunting to think about quitting a job to dedicate yourself to hacking. But you can try to make money as an ethical hacker on the side. If you like the experience, you can do more and more. There are no barriers to entry for ethical hacking jobs, so you can get started when you’re ready.
Being a Successful Ethical Hacker and Making a Living That Way
The ethical hacking community is a place of support. Like other security communities, ethical hacking involves many people working together to make software and the Internet safer for everyone. Because of this, it is very important to be a contributing member of the community.
Most ethical hackers have blogs where they describe the vulnerabilities they found and explain how they found them. This helps others in the community to learn.
There is also the issue of responsible disclosure. To make a living as a good hacker, when you find a vulnerability, you must disclose it to the affected company in a responsible manner. It would be irresponsible to post publicly about a vulnerability before informing the affected company, for example.
Also, it’s not a good idea to demand excessively high rewards for finding a flaw. Nor should it threaten a company if it finds a vulnerability. Instead, work with the company to come up with a fair payment and publicize the issue in a way they can correct.
Once you have gained a reputation as not only a good hacker but also someone who is professional and easy to work with, you will find plenty of job offers available.
Being an ethical hacker means not only having an interesting job, but also doing something that will benefit many people. Making software, hardware, or websites more secure benefits everyone who uses them.
A variety of options are open to make a living from ethical hacking. And you can start as a side job using part of your day to see if you like it before going full-time. Even better, you don’t need any specific educational requirements to be an ethical hacker. You just need a keen eye for detail and a commitment to learning more about security issues.
To become an ethical hacker to earn a living as a good hacker honestly and still prestige in the community and also in companies may not be the simplest thing you will learn and develop.
With the passage of time and dedicating yourself to what interests you with time it becomes easy, another thing I strongly recommend is acquiring a taste for reverse engineering and the main thing is that practice makes perfect. At all times companies are understanding the importance of ethical hacking and are paying large sums of money as a form of prevention.
If you are interested in this area, we have professional courses with international certification to start working in this market and many others. Transform your career and join this highly profitable cybersecurity market.
So be aware of everything that has been exposed in this article, because the best way to prevent yourself is to be aware of what is happening.
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