If you are an IT or tech enthusiast, chances are that you’ve wondered about how you can become an ethical hacker. Well… we don’t blame you.
Ethical hacking has a certain sense of mystery and vigilance surrounding it. The same has made thousands asking advice to learn ethical hacking or about the various ethical hacking courses available.
Now, you’ve probably looked around a bit and understood the basics of ethical hacking, how is it different from hacking, or about the various programming languages you’ll be required to master.
You may also know about the importance of gaining an ethical hacking certification. If you don’t, you can read about it in the last section of this article. Come back here once you are done, words don’t run.
Assuming you know the value of becoming a certified ethical hacker brings to your career, you must be wondering about the various certifications you can get.
Because we all like to have our options… there’s a wide range of ethical hacking certifications available. With each providing specific value to your hacking skills, one can’t help but wonder…
What are the best ethical hacking certifications?
In this article, we will go through some of the best certifications you can gain to become a certified ethical hacker.
P.S. You can choose to have multiple of them 😉
Top ethical hacking certifications
Before heading out to acquire any ethical hacking certification(s), you must have a good knowledge of the subjects around it. It is always advisable to first learn ethical hacking, from basic to advanced-level stuff.
Moreover, you must have a strong grip on computing languages and topics like:
- Social engineering
- Penetration testing
- Creating trojan horses
- Viruses, backdoors, DDoS
- Topics included in cybersecurity (network security, disaster recovery, etc.)
- How to hack network/s
- And many more
You can learn these topics by reading ethical hacking books or other articles, watching YouTube videos, or by enrolling in an online ethical hacking course.
Certified Ethical Hacking Certification (CEH)
If you wish to become an ethical hacker, you’ve probably heard about this one.
Certified Ethical Hacker or CEH is the most common and broadly used certification program. A person who has gained this ethical hacking certification will be skilled in:
- Understanding the mindset as well as the tools and techniques used by a malicious hacker
- Finding vulnerabilities in the system
- Looking for weaknesses of the target system so that they can be fixed
CEH is the most basic of certifications and is the one that is sought the most by employers. EC-Council is the most trusted organization to gain CEH certification. They even provide instructor-led lectures and other study materials to assist you in passing the exam.
If you don’t have any training, you can still sit for the exam by submitting proof of two-years of relevant professional experience.
GIAC Penetration Tester
Here’s a certification you can gain to become an expert on the subject of penetration in addition to the process of breaking into a system.
Sys Admin, Networking, and Security (SANS) institute are responsible for running the Global Insurance Assurance Certification (GIAC) program.
They offer multiple courses and certifications with GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) being amongst the more popular ones.
A person who wishes to become a certified ethical hacker by gaining a GPEN certification will be skilled in:
- Attacking password hashes
- Advanced password attacks
- Initial target scanning
- Attacks on web application
- Pen-testing foundations
- Exploitation fundamentals
- Moving files containing exploits
- Penetration testing using the Windows command line and power shell
- Vulnerability scanning
We suggest getting a GPEN certification from the SANS institutes.
Because it proves that you, as a professional has had a good balance between theoretical knowledge and practical training.
Offensive Security Certified Professional
OSCP is an ethical hacking certification that has only been out for around a decade but has already gained a great reputation. It is advertised as a fully hands-on certification program by Offensive Security.
OSCP is designed for tech professionals who wish to prove their clear understanding of the entire penetration testing process and lifecycle.
The certification provides the holder to prove the ability to:
- Recognize vulnerabilities
- Exploit hosts
- Generate and/or alter exploit code
- Successfully perform tasks on compromised systems over various operating systems
Before you set yourself to sit on the 24-hour long exam, you must have a great understanding of,
- networking protocols,
- software development, and
- systems internals
Moreover, you’ll have to wrap your head around operating Kali Linux, an open-source project managed by Offensive Security.
CREST is an international not-for-profit accreditation and certification body that represents in addition to supporting the technical information security industry. Their certifications are globally recognized across many countries including UK, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
CREST offers ethical hacking certifications on organizational and individual-level on various topics such as:
- Penetration Testing
- Simulated Target Attack & Response/CBEST
- Incident Response
- Security Architecture
We suggest going through their website and understanding the entire process of becoming a certified ethical hacker through CREST.
Certified Penetration Testing Consultant
CPTC certification is designed to teach IT professionals the business side of penetration testing. Mile2 is an organization that provides an accredited online course for gaining this ethical hacking certification.
However, you can enroll in courses by other organizations or by Udemy and come back to Mile2 for appearing in the exam.
CPTC certification proves that you’ve in-depth knowledge of
- Penetration testing
- Auditing security controls including physical as well as user security.
Moreover, it qualifies you for having
- Necessary skills required to work as a penetration testing team
- Knowledge of the exploitation process
- Understanding of creating a buffer overflow against programs running on Windows and Linux while subverting features such as DEP and ASLR
CPTC ethical hacking certification exam consists of two parts. First, the examinee will take a fully hands-on penetration test. Then he/she takes two exams through the online Mile2’s Assessment and Certification System.
4 out of 5 systems need to be exploited to pass the hands-on exam whereas the 2nd exam has a passing score of 70%. You’ll also need to create a Mile2 account which will be used for submitting fees as well as appearing for the exam.
Certified Penetration Testing Engineer
CPTE is another certification that you can gain through Mile2. However, CPTE is held to be one of the five core cybersecurity credentials and is internationally recognized for the same.
You can use your Mile2 account to access the exam online. Its a 2-hour long exam consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions.
Having a CPTE certification qualifies you to have knowledge of five key elements of pen testing:
- Information Gathering
The cost of the exam is $500 USD which should be purchased from your mile2 account.
Reasons to become a certified ethical hacker
The amazing element that ethical hacking jobs bring is that the employers hardly care about your educational background. However, this does not mean that they won’t require proof of your skills.
Most recruiters look for a certified ethical hacker over one that isn’t. The reason behind it is simple, they want the best for the job, and certifications are a way to prove that you are indeed the best.
Gaining an ethical hacking certification not only proves that you’ve skills but also that you are job-ready.
Furthermore, gaining an ethical hacking certification also makes your skills globally recognizable.
Because companies around the world constantly face cyber threats and the risk of getting attacked, they are in a constant lookout for new talents.
As a result, becoming a certified ethical hacker also boosts your chances of going overseas for work. You can even get a permanent job at top companies like Google, Facebook, IBM, etc.
Finally, despite your current field, having the ability to handle a cyberattack is always appreciated. Therefore gaining an ethical hacking certification also adds value to you as an employee. Hence, gaining certifications directly results in salary hikes.
In addition to the above, each and every industry requires ethical hackers. Thus, you can choose to work for Netflix or explore the fashion industry with companies like Calvin Klein!
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