Ethical Hacking Tutorial

What Is Ethical Hacking? Meaning, Uses, Benefits, Process, Types, Requirements & More


This is the first chapter of our detailed Ethical Hacking Tutorial for beginners. Here, we’ll understand:

  • What is ethical hacking in cybersecurity?

  • Whether ethical hacking is legal or illegal?

  • Who is an ethical hacker?

  • Roles and responsibilities of an ethical hacker

  • Difference between hacking and ethical hacking

  • What is ethical hacking used for?

  • Different types of hacking

  • Different types of hackers

  • Top benefits of ethical hacking

  • Ethical hacking requirements

  • Complete the process to perform ethical hacking

And more…

To begin with, you must know that ethical hacking is the practice of hacking a system or network to improve its security. The role of ethical hacking is to detect vulnerabilities that hackers can use for malicious purposes like stealing data, causing financial loss, or other damages.

The difference between a typical hacker and an ethical hacker is only the nature of the objective behind the hacking. 

Both use the same types of tools and resources. Let’s learn the meaning of ethical hacking in detail below.

What is Footprinting in Ethical Hacking?

In ethical hacking, footprinting means gathering as much information as possible about a target system, network, or infrastructure. The aim is to identify vulnerabilities and opportunities to penetrate the system and safeguard it against different types of hacking attacks. 

The footprinting process involves profiling organizations and collecting data about hosts, networks, and third-party partners. The information includes firewalls, IP addresses, URLs, operating systems, virtual private networks, network maps, email addresses, domain name system information, etc. 

Is Hacking Ethical?

The term ‘hacking’ builds up an image of something unethical or illegal, or those who conduct hacking are often seen as cybercriminals. But that is not always the case. 

Hacking can be both ethical (legal) and unethical (illegal). The hackers who work with the permission of the system owner to get into the system’s security and network to improve its security are known as ethical hackers. 

And this type of hacking is 100% ethical. 

But, the ones who do not take permission to access a system are not ethical hackers. Compromising a system, network, device, or anything that is not authorized or done for personal benefit is obviously illegal and unethical. If you are a beginner and want to get into the legal aspects of this field, then keep reading this ethical hacking tutorial for beginners.

Ethical Hacking Explained (Video)

If you want to know how to become an ethical hacker, then this is a must-watch video for you. In the video, we have explained what is ethical hacking in simple words, what to study, career scope, laws, and much more. 

Who is Ethical Hacker?

Ethical hackers are also known as white hat hackers. They are basically information security experts who hack networks, applications, or any resource with the permission of respective owners. 

Organizations or business owners hire ethical hackers to identify potential security flaws that malicious hackers could exploit.

The major goal of an ethical hacker is to assess the systems or infrastructure’s security and uncover flaws. The individuals who learn ethical hacking are always told to follow the practices and use the tools that are ethical and legal. These things are cleared right from the time of introduction to ethical hacking for beginners.

What Are Roles and Responsibilities of Ethical Hacker?

Every ethical hacker has to perform different roles and responsibilities depending on the organization they work for. But, first of all, every hacker must be well-versed in the ethical hacking basics and know the following roles and responsibilities:

1. Seek Authorization 

Before conducting any type of security audit, an ethical hacker must obtain the required authorization and consent from the organization.

2. Determine the Assessment Scope

Every ethical hacker must define the scope of their evaluation and strategy. After that, they should communicate to the organization or owner what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

3. Keep Discoveries Confidential

As ethical hackers aim to secure the network or system, they need to sign an NDA before working on any of the projects. It is because they have access to the systems and networks of the company and know about the critical vulnerabilities. Those who know the meaning of ethical hacking understand how crucial the discovered vulnerabilities are. 

4. Report Vulnerabilities Immediately

As soon as the ethical hacker finds any glitch in the system, they must report all types of security vulnerabilities discovered in a system or network. The aim here is to get those vulnerabilities fixed at the earliest.

5. Delete All Traces 

A good hacker is someone who does not leave traces behind. So, after inspecting the system for vulnerabilities, they should wipe all traces. It will prevent unauthorized hackers from entering the system and keep the businesses’ systems safe and secure.

Every ethical hacker should be well-versed in these major roles and responsibilities. Simply knowing what is ethical hacking in cybersecurity doesn’t help until he knows the roles and responsibilities well. Besides this, you must also know the major differences between ethical hacking and hacking to be on the right track.

Ethical Hacking Vs Hacking: What’s the Difference?

Hacking is an activity of gaining unauthorized access to all the data and information which is stored privately by experts. On the other hand, ethical hacking is the legal access to information. 

Not only this, there are a lot of differences between ethical hacking and hacking, as mentioned in the following comparison table.

Ethical Hacking


Perform hacking activities to find and fix the vulnerabilities in the system or network.

Steal the sensitive data or information of an organization for illegal purposes.

Legal hacking practice is permitted by the company or individual.

Illegal hacking practice that is unauthorized.

Individual performing ethical hacking is known as a white-hat hacker.

Individual performing unethical hacking is known as a black-hat hacker.

Ethical hackers design firewalls and security protocols.

Hackers gain unauthorized access to restricted networks and breach data security.

Ethical hackers work while collaborating with government organizations and large enterprises.

Hackers always work for themselves to earn money illegally.

What is Ethical Hacking Used For?

Ethical hacking can be used for various purposes depending on the type of organization an ethical hacker is working for. The following are some ways ethical hacking can improve the system’s security and safety.

  • Analyzing password strength

  • Keeping data communication pathways from being intercepted

  • Improving security against denial-of-service attacks

  • Evaluating network security & anti-intrusion features

  • Validating the authentication protocols

  • Assuring every program includes security mechanisms protecting user databases

  • Performing penetration testing after every program update

These are some of the major activities where experts perform ethical hacking. A person with the right ethical hacking skills can perform all these tasks like a pro and help businesses stay secure from cybercriminals and hackers. Hope you now have a better idea of what is ethical hacking and why it is used.

Quick History of Ethical Hacking

In 1995, IBM Vice President John Patrick invented the term "Ethical hacking." The concept, though, has been around for much longer. Since the 1960s, engineering students have used the term "Hacking" to improve systems and machines' performance.

However, when it connected with computer crime in the 1980s, the phrase took on a new connotation. This association eventually resulted in the adoption of regulations such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in 1986. Ethical hacking currently refers to using specialized techniques to identify security flaws in systems with the owner's permission.

What Are Different Types of Hacking?

Hacking is a savior technique to protect the system against cyberattacks and data breaches by anticipating how a hacker might think of getting into the system. So, the following are the different types of hacking where hackers can get into your system or network. 

1. Phishing

This type of hacking aims to obtain users’ sensitive information, including account passwords, credit card details, and so on.

2. UI Redress

In this approach, the hacker constructs a fake interface that directs users to a special website when they click on it.

3. Viruses

Viruses are injected by hackers into the website’s filters. The major aim of this type of hacking is to corrupt the information or resource on the net website. 

4. DNS Spoofing

This hacking uses the cache knowledge of an internet website or domain that users may have forgotten. It then sends the data to a specific malicious website.

5. Malware Injection Tools

Using this hacking tactic, the cybercriminals will exploit the hardware to install malware on the systems and devices. 

These are the five major types of hacking that hackers perform in order to affect the system. So, the job of ethical hackers is to secure the system from such hacking attacks and keep the system safe and secure. Also, knowing all the prerequisites for ethical hacking is a must for hackers to surely keep the system secure before hackers ruin it. 

How Many Types of Hackers Are There?

Like hacking, there are different types of hackers. Some are indulged in ethical hacking, while some aren’t. So, let’s discover the different types of hackers. 

1. Black Hat Hackers

Black hat hackers are cybercriminals who get into the systems illegally. Black hat hacking is attempting to obtain unauthorized access to computer systems or networks.

2. White Hat Hackers

White hat hackers are ethical hackers who find and patch flaws and vulnerabilities. They also possess the best ethical hacking skills. This type of hackers know what is ethical hacking and aim to find system weaknesses to fix them with the permission of the organizations they hack into.

3. Grey Hat Hackers

Grey hat hackers lack the illegal intent of black hat hackers, but they also lack the prior knowledge or approval of those whose systems they hack into. So, basically, grey hat hackers discover flaws like zero-day vulnerabilities.

What Are Advantages of Ethical Hacking?

Now that you know the meaning of ethical hacking, the types of hackers, and more things, let's know about the benefits of ethical hacking.

Ethical hacking has been in the industry for a while long time. Still, many businesses, professionals, and even students aren’t aware of the advantages of ethical hacking. So, here we have highlighted the major benefits of ethical hacking in today’s time. 

  • Ethical hacking aids in taking preventative measures against hackers.

  • This contributes to the system’s development, inhibiting hacker penetration.

  • Ethical hacking provides security to all sectors, including banking & financial institutions.

  • Identifying and closing flaws in a network are possible with ethical hacking.

  • The ethical hacking process aids in the battle against Cyber terrorism and national security breaches.

Ethical Hacking Requirements

Simply knowing about ethical hacking doesn’t take you anywhere. You need to be well-versed in ethical hacking skills and requirements to become a good ethical hacker. To help you know each and every ethical hacking basic, here we have highlighted some crucial ethical hacking requirements to become a professional in the future. 

  • Networking Skills 

  • Linux Skills

  • Programming Skills

  • Hardware Knowledge  

  • Cryptography 

  • Database Skills

  • Problem-solving Skills

  • SQL Skills

Ethical Hacking Process (How Does Ethical Hacking Work?)

Ethical hacking aims to study the system using top-notch hacking abilities. The ethical hacking process is further divided into five phases:

1. Reconnaissance

Firstly, ethical hackers seek to create a hack that adheres to the target's security measures.

2. Scanning

Next, hackers or professionals reveal the network's topology and vulnerabilities to find possible loopholes in the system or network.

3. Gaining Access

The professionals can proceed with ethical hacking once the above-mentioned procedures have been completed. This step comprises evading security measures or cracking the password.

4. Maintaining Access

Cybercriminals prepare a backup strategy or plan to retain access to the target system after acquiring access. They build a backdoor for this purpose, which can later be used to hack or attack the system.

5. Clearing Traces

Finally, once the ethical hacker hacked the system, all the traces are removed, right from removing logs, and executables, to backdoors that could be used to identify the hacker.

This is how the process of ethical hacking works and helps professionals hack the business system or network.

Ethical Hacking Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is Ethical Hacking Legal?

Yes, ethical hacking is absolutely legal if it is performed with the permission of the organization’s owner to find loopholes in the system. It also safeguards the system from all sorts of damage the hacker performs. Hacking performed without the system owner's permission is termed illegal. 

In such hacking, the hackers get into the system and steal sensitive information and data for their benefit and to earn a lot of money. So, there is a huge difference between ethical hacking Vs Hacking. 

Students who are passionate about hacking should pursue an ethical hacking course from a leading institute. Only the experts can offer a better insight into hacking, right from the ethical hacking definition to every detail of it. 

2. What Is Ethical Hacking Meaning?

Finding vulnerabilities in an application, network, or computer system to improve security is known as ethical hacking. Companies frequently hire ethical hackers to safeguard their systems from outside threats, Cyberattacks, or types of misshapen. 

Ethical hackers generally enjoy problem-solving and possess strong computer and IT skills. Ethical hackers keep detailed records of their hacking attempts to demonstrate their professionalism. They also take precautions to reduce the risk of potential security ramifications from their actions. 

Along with this, watching ethical hacking tutorials or seeking an ethical hacking course strengthens the concepts and helps to decide whether a career in this industry suits you. 

3. What Are the Different Stages Of Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is performed in five simple steps to secure the system from unwanted Cyber threats and attacks. Every stage of ethical hacking contributes to strengthening the system.

Stage 1 - Reconnaissance

It is the first step in the process of ethical hacking. The white-hat hacker gathers all accessible information about the networks and systems in place, as well as the security measures that have been put in place. In this step, the ethical hacker has two options for reconnaissance, i.e., active and passive reconnaissance.

Stage 2 - Scanning

The scanning step is the second stage of ethical hacking. This step entails applying all of the data gathered during the reconnaissance phase.

Stage 3 - Gaining Access

It is where the ethical hacker really hacks. He employs all the data gathered and analyzed to launch a full-fledged attack on the system.

Stage 4 - Maintenance

When hackers get into an organization's system, they usually have an objective in mind. Simply breaking into or hacking into the system will not suffice.

Stage 5 - Covering Tracks

It is the last stage in completing the ethical hacking procedure. Here, the ethical hacker has successfully hacked into a system or network.

4. Does Ethical Hacking Require Coding?

Although coding is not required for ethical hacking, it is impossible to be a good hacker without it. Many hacking techniques, such as buffer overflows & XML injections, necessitate some programming skills & knowledge. 

Every cybercriminal must possess programming knowledge to carry out the plan of illegally collecting valuable information from the system. As the process of ethical hacking is sneaking into someone else's system without being detected, it is obvious that a hacker must code well to accomplish this. Also, there is no way for someone to succeed if the hacker lacks the expertise to write certain codes. 

5. Why is ethical hacking important?

This world is full of Cybercrime and attacks; hence businesses need to keep a strong eye to save the system from unwanted attacks and crimes. It is where ethical hacking comes in handy. Many commercial businesses or government projects deal with extremely sensitive data that must be safeguarded to protect privacy.

Ethical hacking is used to protect critical data from attackers. It keeps malevolent users from taking advantage of the company or an individual. Ethical hacking is widely used to evaluate security systems. Ethical hacking is also employed during testing security systems' execution, design, or management stages.   

6. Are Ethical Hackers In Demand?

Undoubtedly, ethical hacking is in high demand these days. With the rising Cybercrime and attacks, businesses need to stay alert of the ongoing attacks. This is what increases the demand for ethical hackers. Well, there are a lot of reasons behind the increasing popularity of ethical hacking and Cybersecurity, such as - 

  • Experts possess compact knowledge of tools

  • Ethical hackers have better knowledge of the exploits

  • Attack is the best defence line for ethical hackers

  • Ethical hacking helps to maintain the reputation of the credential

  • More wide scope

  • Comprehensive abilities

  • Ethical hackers know all the bad moves

These are some major reasons that are increasing the demand for ethical hackers while keeping computer systems and networks secure. 

7. How Ethical Hacking Is Done?

 As highlighted below, ethical hacking is a step-by-step process to get into a system or network. 

Firstly, the ethical hacker gathers all the information about the target actively or passively.

Next, the hackers start actively probing a network or a computer system for vulnerabilities using the tools such as Nessus, Nexpose, or NMAP.

When a vulnerability or a threat is detected, the hacker starts gaining access to a particular system or network. The major tool used in this process is Metasploit.

Now that the ethical hacker has gained access to a system, he/she installs some backdoors to enter into the system to own access in the future. 

Once the work is done, the job of an ethical hacker is to remove all the marks and traces of detection. 

Finally, the hacker wraps up with the last step of ethical hacking by compiling a report with his findings. 

8. What are the pros and cons of ethical hacking?

Here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of ethical hacking:


  • Ensures the security of sensitive data

  • Protects against cyber attacks and thefts

  • Keeps national security breaches and cyber terrorism at bay

  • Identifies weaknesses in the system and closes the gaps in the network

  • Helps take preventive measures against hacking

  • Restricts black hat and grey hat hackers from accessing critical data


  • Ethical hackers may use the data for malicious hacking

  • Chances of stealing important data from the system

  • Possibility of corrupting files of a company

9. What are the common tools used for ethical hacking?

The key tools used for ethical hacking are:

  • John the Ripper

  • Wireshark

  • Nmap

  • Acunetix

  • Metasploit

  • SQLMap

  • Nikto

  • Netsparker

  • OpenVAS

  • IronWASP

  • Burp Suit

  • Angry IP Scanner

  • Cain & Abel

  • Ettercap

10. What is footprinting in ethical hacking?

Footprinting is an ethical hacking technique to collect as much data as possible about the targeted system or network and find a way to penetrate them. It is the first step of ethical hacking and involves strategizing to detect bugs in the system. 

During footprinting, a hacker collects information regarding IP address, domain name, phone number, namespace, emails, etc.

11. What are the different types of footprinting? 

Footprinting is of two types:

Passive- It refers to gathering data of the victim system located at a remote location from the attacker.

Active- It means to collect information by getting in direct contact with the targeted system.

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