What is Ethical Hacking? Phases, Merits and Demerits


Ethical hacking has been a buzz for a while. But what exactly is ethical hacking? And where does it come from? All this you will get to know in this blog.

Early in the 1960s, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), there was the first known incidence of hacking. Since that time, hacking has become a  widely practiced discipline within the computing industry.

The term “Hacker” was used to identify professionals who redeveloped mainframe systems, boosting their productivity and enabling multitasking.

The phrase now frequently refers to talented programmers who, driven by malice or mischief, use vulnerabilities or faults to obtain unauthorized access to computer systems.

There are mainly two kinds of hacking; ethical and unethical. From the term unethical hacking, it is clear that stealing important data or seeking financial gain is the main motivation behind this kind of hacking.

But not all kinds of hacking activities are bad. The second kind of hacking is ethical hacking, which brings us full circle. Now let’s deep dive into the topic of what is ethical hacking, why it is needed, and its many phases.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Intended to uncover potential data breaches and network risks, ethical hacking is a legitimate method that involves finding vulnerabilities in an application, system, or organization’s infrastructure.

Hacking is prohibited and, if you’re caught doing it, can have serious repercussions. Because of hacking, individuals have received lengthy prison sentences. However, if done with consent, hacking may be acceptable. This is called ethical hacking.

Companies frequently hire computer specialists to hack into their systems and identify the weak endpoints and rectify them. To protect against legitimate hackers with harmful intentions, ethical hacking is performed.

Phases of Ethical Hacking

The 6 phases of ethical hacking are as follows:

1. Reconnaissance

It is the procedure for gathering data. The hacker gets pertinent data about the intended system during this stage. This information consists of finding services, operating systems, the number of packet hops needed to get to the system, IP setup, and so on.

2. Scanning

The hacker starts actively scanning the target device or network for exploitable security flaws. Hackers frequently employ programs like Nessus, Nexpose, and NMAP in this operation.

3. Gaining Access

The vulnerability is identified throughout this procedure, and the hacker tries to exploit it to gain access to the machine. Metasploit is the main tool employed in this procedure.

4. Maintaining Access

It is the action taken once a hacker has already accessed a system. After obtaining entry, the hacker installs a few backdoors so she can return to the system in the future if she needs access to this owned machine. The preferred tool for this process is Metasploit.

5. Clearing Tracks

It is unethical to engage in this practice. Throughout the hacking process whatever activities are performed by the hacker are deleted at this stage.

6. Reporting

The process of ethical hacking comes to a close with this stage. In this instance, the ethical hacker creates a report containing her findings and the work completed, including the tools used, the rate of success, the vulnerabilities discovered, and the exploit procedures.

Rules of Ethical Hacking

Ethical hackers are supposed to follow the below-mentioned rules:

  • Scope: Establish the parameters of the assessment to ensure that the work of the ethical hacker is lawful and within the permitted restrictions of the organization.
  • Maintain Legality: Before obtaining and conducting a security evaluation, get the necessary approval.
  • Report Vulnerabilities: Inform the company of every vulnerability found during the assessment. Give suggestions for repairing these vulnerabilities.
  • Respect Data Sensitivity: Ethical hackers may need to sign a non-disclosure agreement requested by the evaluated firm, depending on how sensitive the data is.

Merits of Ethical Hacking

After getting an understanding of what ethical hacking is, its phases, and its key concepts, let’s go through its key advantages:

  • The capability of ethical hacking to educate, enhance, and defend corporate networks is its most evident advantage.
  • It aids in the battle against cyberterrorism and breaches of national security.
  • It helps in the development of a system that shields against any hacker intrusions.
  • Ethical hacking provides security for financial and banking institutions.
  • It aids in locating and fixing security gaps in computer systems or networks.

Limitations of Ethical Hacking

There are some demerits associated with ethical hacking, which are as follows:

  • It can lead to data corruption in an organization.
  • Hiring experts to perform ethical hacking increases costs for the company.
  • Ethical hackers can’t broaden the scope of an assault and succeed. But it makes sense to discuss potential outside-the-scope threats with the company.
  • Malicious hackers are not subject to the time constraints experienced by ethical hackers.

How to Become an Ethical Hacker?

To carry out hacking effectively, an ethical hacker needs to have a thorough understanding of all systems, networks, program codes, security measures, etc. Some of the skills required to be an ethical hacker are:

  • Networking abilities are among the most crucial abilities for ethical hackers. The interconnection of various hardware, also known as hosts connected via various pathways to send and receive data or media, is what constitutes a computer network. To examine the numerous interconnected machines in a network and the potential security concerns that this can present, as well as how to mitigate those threats, ethical hackers will need to understand networking concepts such as DHCP, subnetting, TCP, UDP, IPv4 and IPv6.
  • Databases are the primary targets of hacking attacks. Being familiar with database management systems like SQL will enable you to efficiently inspect database activities.
  • Ethical hackers must have an understanding of different platforms like Linux and Windows.
  • They must have an understanding of search engines and servers.
  • Ethical hackers should be able to do code efficiently in any programming language like Python, Java, and PHP.
  • Anyone interested in ethical hacking should try to inculcate cryptography skills. To render a text or message unreadable to hackers during transmission, cryptography encrypts plain text or other regular text or messages into ciphertext. It is the responsibility of an ethical hacker to ensure that information does not leak within the organization.


Given that it necessitates a thorough understanding of every component of a system or network, ethical hacking is a difficult field to study.

With the help of this blog, you now have a better understanding of what ethical hacking is, its merits, demerits, and skills required to become a good ethical hacker.

Now, if you want to enter the field of cybersecurity, you may do so with ease by obtaining the necessary ethical hacking certifications and advancing your career in the field.

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