No one can question nowadays the importance of cybersecurity for any kind of business or individuals. Companies, business and people, all of them, have an online presence, it does not matter if it is big, like investment banks or technology companies, or small, like the corner shop or an individual. Everyone has a mobile phone connected to the Internet, social network accounts, bank management services and dozens of online services to access. For big companies, they are not just consumers of online services but producers too, they have their systems on the cloud accessible by customers and employees. Privilege information does not live any more in a big safe on the basement, now it is online and accessible. Government services, e-commerce, banking, e-mail, messaging applications, productivity tools, entertainment, anything users can need, want or, even, imagine, can be found online.
We live in an incredible moment. All this connectivity and all these online services make possible things that, till a few years ago, were just dreams but, all of this comes with a price and a responsibility.
Thing like privacy, anonymity and security need to be carefully considered. In the same way that everything is there for users to access and use, everything is there for cybercriminals to try to take advantage and exploit systems to make some profit or just disrupt the normality or stability.
For this reason, cybersecurity is so important and, it does not matter the area, it has become essential for any business or enterprise with an online presence. And, at a lower scale, it should be important for all technology users.
In the next few articles, we are going to be talking about cybersecurity. During the reading, the reader will find multiple times references to the term ethical hacker. A term I do not fully believe is appropriate. Literature and media tend to picture hacker as cybercriminals but, from my point of view, they are making a big mistake taking as a synonymous the words hacker and cybercriminal.
A hacker is a person full of curiosity, with passion about discovering how things work, how they are made, what are their limits. Learning, investigation, discovery, creativity, curiosity, hard-work and out of the box thinking are characteristics that, in my opinion, describe a hacker. For this reason, the term ethical hacker does not make sense to me. Hackers do not want to break things to cause disruption, they do not want to steal money or cause problems, they just want to learn. It is true that, sometimes, without intention, some lines can be crossed what it should not happen. Here, it is where the term ethical hacking, maybe, makes more sense, if we apply it to people that explicitly and actively try not to cross that lines. But, for me, this group of people are cybersecurity practitioners. And, obviously, they are the opposite of cybercriminals or attackers. One way to see it, it is like all of them are hackers just, some of them decide to use their knowledge as cybersecurity practitioners and others decided to use it for their own profit through illegal activities.
The reason to use the term ethical hacker in these series of articles is due it is linked to the very well know cybersecurity certification specialised in penetration testing called Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and these series of articles have been based on the different topics they explore in the certification curriculum.
These series of articles are just covering some learning I have done on my own, they do not pretend to be an extensive guide to prepare the certification or anything similar. I have just put together some learning and readings gathered from the Internet with some thoughts of my own and some lessons learned from experience. On one hand, I hope it will be a resource good enough for consultation in the future when memory gets a bit foggy. On the other hand, sorting things that I have learned in the past and trying to explain them with some sort of order has to help me to consolidate my knowledge. And, finally, if these articles can be useful for someone else starting in this marvellous, exciting, interesting, evolving and always challenging world of cybersecurity, even if it is just one person, it would be good.
As I have said, this does not pretend to be a comprehensive guide to attempt any certification just a compendium of topics related with cybersecurity but, one question that comes up quite often is, are certification worth it?
To summarise my opinion I will say, you are the only one that can answer that question. To develop a bit more this comment, in my opinion, the most important thing, it is the knowledge. Learning, studying, and loving what you do cannot be replaced by anything and, there are people that have absolutely amazing skills without having any formal study, degree or certification. Once said this, in the kind of world we are leaving and considering that it is not always easy to have the chance to probe the knowledge a person posses, there are a few good reasons to consider certifications. Cases like career changes, re-skilling, returning to the workforce after a period of absence, under-represented groups or people without computer science/engineering degrees that are looking for an opportunity are some interesting scenarios. Two more cases are skill professionals looking for sharpen even more their skills and to have a differentiating element on their curriculum vitae or, specific roles where some type of certification is explicitly requested. This does not means, that if readers fall into one of the listed cases they need a certification, it means that, in these cases, it is worth it to think about it.
Without more preambles, let’s go and start with this cybersecurity path focus on how attackers or cyber criminals think about breaking, exploiting and attacking systems. These series of articles are going to be focused on offensive techniques, methodologies and concepts. After the theory, there will be some practical exercises based on platforms like TryHackMe or Hack The Box to practise some of the concepts learned and continue exploring how attackers think and operate. These are not defensive cybersecurity articles, at least not explicitly defined as that, if readers are interesting on defensive practices, probably they are going to find some useful information but it is not the main focus of them.
You can find the drafts for these series on my repository.
- Introduction to Ethical Hacking
- Footprinting and Reconnaissance
- Scanning Networks
- Vulnerability Analysis
- System Hacking
- Malware Threats
- Social Engineering
- Denial of Service
- Session Hijacking
- IDS, IPS, Firewalls and Honeypots
- Hacking Web Servers
- Hacking Web Applications
- SQL Injection
- Hacking Wireless Networks
- Hacking Mobile Platforms
- IoT Hacking
- Cloud Computing
This text is a compilation of my thoughts, information that I have collected or learn reading, watching conferences or videos in the past and, obviously, some search over the Internet. For all the information extracted from different sources where someone else has done a good job explaining a concept, below it can be found a list of references: