Information security professionals can take preventive security practices to the next level by learning how to hack.
As opposed to malicious “black hat” hacking, ethical “white hat” hacking (also called penetration testing) involves using computer hacking skills to identify network security vulnerabilities and patch security holes before anyone can abuse them.
Why It’s Important
Learning how to hack helps information security professionals implement the strongest possible security practices. It’s as much about finding and fixing security vulnerabilities as it is anticipating them. As you learn more about the methods hackers use to infiltrate systems, you’ll be able to preemptively resolve issues; if you don’t understand how black hat hackers could get in to your systems, you’re going to have a hard time securing them.
Think of it this way: a computer network is like a yard with a fence to keep people out. If you’ve put something valuable inside the yard, someone may want to hop the fence and steal it. Ethical hacking is like regularly checking for vulnerabilities in and around the fence, so you can reinforce weak areas before anyone tries to get in.
What It Involves
Above everything else, successful ethical hacking requires being a master of problem solving. An understanding of how computer systems and programming languages work is also essential, because if you understand how the system works, it’s easier to think of ways to exploit the system.