The fine art of hacking

The fine art of hacking

The fine art of hacking

There are many instances where companies have lost not just money but information critical to their core business due to hackers. Groups of hackers have targeted companies resulting in severe impact on business and a direct impact on their cash flows. Many companies choose to cut their losses and most of the times, do not reveal damages that have been caused by such an event, to keep their shareholder value and confidence intact.

A white hat hacker’s job is to prevent you from taking a hit as an individual or as a business. He works tirelessly day and night to ensure that computer systems are secured and business work flow is maintained. As a white hat hacker, you will be testing systems and softwares for flaws and work on identifying loop holes, open ports, setting up firewalls and taking various network security measures and managing system patches. To do this, you will need a thorough understanding of operating systems, software and hardware systems. You will also need to understand networking and be apt at basic programming methods and encryption technologies.

A person qualified at this level is a very valuable resource and the current market is short by at least 70 per cent of the total 1 to 1.5 lac requirement this year. A white hat hacker, once in the game, is secured for life as he can take up consulting and training assignments, apart from regular job. He will however have to keep in touch with the latest developments and updates on a regular basis. A white hat can earn over 50 per cent more than conventional programmers and about 70 per cent more than regular IT managers once he is five years into the game. Some white hat hackers earn up to one crore (sometimes more) a year.

Gartner report in August 2014 estimates that global security spending would increase to reach a total spend of $76.9 billion in 2015 an increase of about 8 per cent over 2014 spend.

Digital revolution
The telecom revolution and e-commerce revolution happening now has led to growth of companies with multibillion dollar valuations, and hence the need for IT skill sets has grown even faster. Big money has ensured that this has become a case of not if but when a cyber security attack will occur and how much damage a company could take before it collapses.

The biggest threat comes from the biggest opportunity – the mobile devices. M-commerce is expanding like there was no tomorrow, and for better control of their customers companies are pushing customers to transact using their so called apps. Flipkart has over 10 million downloads for their app. Candy Crush, the most famous mobile game today, has 100 million downloads and they make money using mobile through in-app payments. So, while for Flipkart, it might be their entire customer data at risk for Candy Crush, it is every customer’s banking details!

Mobile devices are small gadgets with limited computing power and the weakest device has access to all your details from email to banking to everything else you are. A mobile device is a ‘virtualised you’ and remains accessible to anyone on the web. The very thought of losing it is scary.

Cyber criminals have become smarter and no longer are direct attacks the chosen method. The Trojans, malwares and viruses are all now deployed using greed and deceit. While you were playing a new game on your mobile or computer which was free and quite interesting or downloaded a hacked copy of Microsoft Windows 10/ Office with the so called crack — the same game or crack would also have provided access to a cybercriminal by opening ports and backdoors for him to access your information. You and the cybercriminal are now connected and he waits for you to access your bank through your mobile or computer. The best part is that the cybercriminal could just be a computer with automated functions skimming information from across the world and raking in millions each day.

Thus, the need for a cyber security expert or a white hat hacker becomes ever more important and for such a career, getting into IT is just not enough, you will have to train hard to become a valuable white hat and this is a viable career option for the long term — the cybercriminals are going to keep you busy.  

(The author is director, Mangalmay Group of Institutions)

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