Remember how, in the movie, Fast and Furious, havoc is created when the cars start self-driving? Definitely a cinematic masterpiece, but we do not discuss cinema here, what we discuss is technological how and why.
That scene is very much possible. Ever wondered how could it be controlled by a person via a computer screen?
If you did wonder like me, well today, you’re in luck and your question is going to be answered.
Although this is a discrete example of unethical hacking but, we’ll understand the phases of ethical hacking today.
Hacking is one of the most common words, we hear in our daily routine. Someone’s social media got hacked, someone fell prey to money laundering tricks etc.
This has become a piece of very regular news now, so frequent that it now ceases to be news.
A little recapitulation, hacking refers to gaining unauthorised access to any device, phone, or computer system. The intent with which this access is gained decides, the type of hacking it is. There are majorly two types:
1. Ethical Hacking:
Ethical hacking involves an authorized attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer system, application, or data in order to look for vulnerabilities in an application, system or organisation’s infrastructure that an attacker can employ to exploit and use it to harm the host, be it in the terms of the former’s reputation or money or steal data altogether.
2. Unethical Hacking :
Unethical hacking refers to the practice of gaining unauthorised access to a system or device, with malicious intent. They work with the intent of harming the host by leaking their data, or for ransom by holding data hostage.
Similarly, there are different types of hackers who are employed for these different types of hacking. Broadly, if it is classified, there are two types of hackers:
3. White Hat Hackers:
White Hat Hackers are those skilled information security developers and engineers who are meant to find IT vulnerabilities and fix them lest they get exploited by other kinds of hackers to damage the host.
4. Black Hat Hackers:
Black Hat Hackers are basically criminals as they break into the system with malicious intent, to leak, and steal data. The intention could be anywhere from imagining a
person’s reputation to asking for ransom.
Now coming to the question, how is it possible to not only control but manipulate the data, for oneself?
Well, that’s what hackers do, let’s get deeper into it and try to understand what goes into hacking a system or a device etc. There are phases of ethical hacking right from the initiation to the final step, we shall see them in detail.
What are Phases of Hacking and How Do They Work?
Organisations, enterprises or businesses hire Ethical Hackers to demonstrate a real cyberattack on their own systems and networks. This attack is meant to pinpoint all the areas of weaknesses that the organisation faces. To be able to work in the direction of strengthening those weak areas. There are five phases of hacking and now we shall study them in detail:
1. The Reconnaissance phase :
This is the first phase in the ethical Hacking process. The white hackers, as we just studied right now, collect all the information that is available regarding the networks and systems in place. They also collect information about the security measures that have been implemented in that system or network. There are two types of reconnaissance that he can conduct in this phase, which are as follows :
- Active Recinnaissance : Active reconnaissance refers to the practice of looking for information about the target network system, server or application to increase the chances of detecting any hacking activity. It is riskier in nature when compared to passive reconnaissance.
- Passive Reconnaissance : It is the stealthier way of gaining information regarding the target. This way is solely focused on gathering information about the members who hold positions of paramount importance, and certain essential facts about the organisation or the company. This way is also about finding out the IP addresses and looking out for all other kinds of critical information about the company.
*The maximum number of organizations or companies have all their information public, hence the process of passively gathering information can prove to be very easy for an ethical hacker.
2. The Scanning Phase:
The second phase in an Ethical Hacker’s journey is referred to as the scanning phase. This step is utilizing all the information that has been gained in the reconnaissance phase of hacking. It is further applied to look for vulnerabilities in the targeted area. Ethical hackers are also potent in performing vulnerability scans so as to find weaknesses in the company’s server that can be easily exploited. This process has now become automated as there are numerous tools in the market that can perform vulnerability scans.
There are varied kinds of scans that are done by ethical hackers, where they can scan open ports or different services that have been running unprotected in an organization.
White hat hackers can also create various ‘maps’ of networks. This process of network mapping is inclusive of finding firewalls that are being used by the organisation and different routers and networks to aid them in their hacking process.
3. The Gaining access Phase:
This is the phase where ethical hackers do the actual hacking. They utilize the information gained in the previous two phases to become competent enough to launch full-fledged attacks on the system or networks, that the ethical hacker is aiming to infiltrate.
4. The Maintaining Access Phase:
As decided an ethical hacker usually has a mission to accomplish or a plan to follow, when they decide to hack into an organisation’s system. This refers to breaking or hacking into a given system is not going to suffice. Ethical hackers have to maintain their access to the server till the goal they have decided reaches its finale.
Ethical Hackers usually employ Trojans and other backdoors or rootkits to complete this phase. This phase can further be utilised to launch several other attacks that can inflict severe and varied kinds of damage to the organisation.
5. The Covering of Tracks Phase:
This phase happens to be the final phase in order to complete the entire hacking process. When this phase is completed successfully it means that the hacker has successfully managed to hack into a system or a network he was aiming for. They can inflict the desired amount, the kind of damage they wish and also leave without leaving a trace. They are meant to cover their tracks thoroughly so as to avoid detection whilst entering and leaving the server or the network. It is considered if the security system is not able to identify the attacker.
The sign of a successful simulated cyber attack is that the security system of that server, or network, does not realise that an attack ever took place altogether in the first place. The hackers take many measures to ensure this by hiding or removing their presence completely. The measures are as follows:
- Corrupting logs.
- Uninstalling all the applications.
- Deleting all logs.
- Modifying certain values of logs or registries.
- Deleting all folders that have been created by the Ethical Hacker.
- Removing all traces of any kind of activities that have been performed by an ethical hacker in the system or a network.
In conclusion, Ethical Hacking is a progressive field that is evolving at a rapid pace. To take this up professionally is absolutely worth it. These above me ntionee are the phases of hacking, an Ethical Hacker needs to conduct so as to carry out hacking successfully.