5 Key Differences Between Ethical Hacking and Cyber Security

Ethical hacking and cyber security are two of the most in-demand jobs in the computer business. Cyber security is the practice of securing or protecting computer systems/ networks, and ethical hacking is just part of it.

Cybercrime is not an absurd threat but is being committed massively. Maintaining a healthy cyber security culture is essential for organizations in this case.

This guide will help you learn more about ethical hacking, Cyber security, and cyber ethics and their distinct differences in detail.

You will also learn about different career opportunities and the required skills for these fields.

What is ethical hacking? 

Ethical hacking is the process of testing the security of computer systems. This enables “Ethical Hackers” to detect security flaws in a company’s system and fix them before hackers find and take advantage of them. 

Let’s say we launch an app and install all the necessary security updates. We still need to confirm this application’s security. We will run specific tests to ensure the application is secure and no one can get around the security measures. This process is a simple example of ethical hacking.

Ethical hacking is a part of cyber security and a catchphrase for penetration testing. Ethical hackers, also called “white hats,” are security experts who legally carry out these security evaluations.

What is cyber security? 

Cybersecurity is the process of protecting computer networks, systems, and programs from hackers’ attacks. It is a collection of several skills and tools that combine to create a potential security environment for users.

We have seen two-factor authentication for account access or password changes in many applications and websites. With this, your account becomes more secure and prevents unauthorized access.

Now consider the malware detection software you set up on your computer. The software alerts you right away whenever it discovers any malicious activity. The goal in both cases is to make your device more secure.

There are primarily four distinct phases of cyber security:

  1. Identify
  2. Protect
  3. Detect
  4. React

📌 Relevant read: Learn more about cybersecurity domains and their differences.

Differences between ethical hacking and cyber security 

Here are key differences between ethical hacking and cyber security based on various key factors:

1. Basic Concept

1.1 Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity uses technology, processes, and policies to protect systems, networks, programs, devices, and data against cyberattacks. It aims to reduce the risk of cyberattacks and protect against unauthorized systems, networks, and technology usage.

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1.2 Ethical Hacking

It is a technique where a professional hacker attempts to break an organization’s security systems and devices legally and consciously. Ethical hackers test the company’s security with different tools and methods to improve system security and find any flaws in the company’s systems and networks.

2. Methods Used

2.1 Cybersecurity

Network security, cloud security, IoT (Internet of Things), and application security apply to critical systems. Systems, networks, and other devices can be successfully secured using these techniques.

2.2 Ethical Hacking

Hacking, sniffing, social engineering, inserting SQL data, hijacking, leaving a digital footprint, enumeration, and cryptography

These hacking techniques help moral hackers more securely safeguard networks and systems. When used by a skilled hacker to protect systems, these techniques are more effective because they are more dependable and use the most recent upgrades to protect systems and networks.

3. Responsibilities

3.1 Cybersecurity

The responsibilities of a cyber security expert include safeguarding the system by creating access privileges, control mechanisms, and resources. Finding anomalies and noting breaches that help to discover problems. Enforcing security measures by evaluating the current environment, trends, and forecasting requirements.

3.2 Ethical Hacking

The responsibilities of an ethical hacker include visiting clients, checking the security measures in place, looking into the network structure and potential entry points of the company, conducting several penetration tests on the system, and identifying and documenting security flaws and compromises.

4. Process

4.1 Cybersecurity

There are five major steps in cyber security procedures. Each step is just as important as the next, and having a clear roadmap makes it easier for cybersecurity analysts to fulfill their duties. The following are the stages in the cyber security procedures:

Determine the Assets → Secure the Assets → System Monitoring → Resolve Incidents → Recovery

4.2 Ethical Hacking

Ethical hackers must put in a lot of effort and skill to find and take full advantage of every vulnerability. This simulated attack aims to find any weak points within the organization and work to strengthen them. The following are the steps in an ethical hacking process:

Reconnaissance → Scanning → Acquiring Access → Maintaining Access → Wrapping of Traces. 

5. Job roles

Here we have a breakdown of the differences between cybersecurity and ethical hacking job roles:

5.1 Cybersecurity Job Role

  • Cybersecurity experts should identify security violations and inefficiencies by carrying out routine checks.
  • Establish and maintain security measures. It also includes upgrading infrastructure and networks.
  • A cybersecurity expert should give appropriate access rights to increase system security.
  • Cybersecurity professionals must describe the effects of damaging attacks on the company.
  • Should maintain quality service by following organizational standards.
  • Keep up with market trends and Maintain technical knowledge by attending various educational workshops and certifications.
  • Contribute to the team effort by completing crucial tasks as required.
  • Professionals must examine hardware and software for flaws and hazards. They are in charge of controlling and keeping an eye on any invasions and assaults. The specialists must locate a potential threat or attempted breach and fix the security flaw.

5.2 Ethical HackingJob Role

  • An ethical hacker evaluates the functionality of a system by testing it for various security flaws.
  • The specialist must evaluate the company’s security system and suggest recommendations for enhancements.
  • Ethical hackers should conduct regular pen tests on the system, online application, and network to check for security flaws.
  • After identifying vulnerabilities, ethical hackers should create reports, and after the problems have been fixed, they should provide comments.
  • Ethical hackers should conduct regular pen tests on the system, online application, and network to check for security flaws.
  • After identifying vulnerabilities, ethical hackers should create reports, and after the problems have been fixed, they should provide comments.
  • Experts in ethical hacking must inform the company about how the attack might hurt its customers and operations.
  • Ethical hackers should use hacking techniques to suggest solutions to the system’s flaws.

Required skills to become an ethical hacker

1. Computer Skills

An ethical hacker must know about computer systems and networks. Managing databases, programming, and performing calculations in spreadsheets are examples of advanced computer skills.

Here are a few of the most crucial computer abilities an ethical hacker must have:

  • MS Office
  • Spreadsheets
  • Database Management
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Web
  • Enterprise Systems

2. Linux Skills

Linux is a secure operating system that offers customers a variety of tools and features. Linux skills are essential for ethical hacking because it enables you to access a system’s internal workings and spot possible security flaws. Additionally, having Linux skills enables you to write original scripts and programs that can be used to automate various tasks.

3. Cryptography

Cryptography is the process of converting a normal text/message known as plain text to a non-readable form known as ciphertext during transfer to make it incomprehensible to hackers. An ethical hacker must ensure that information within the company is not compromised.

4. Reverse Engineering

It is one of the major skills required in this field. Reverse engineering is the process of determining a product’s design, functional requirements, and configuration from an analysis of its code. It creates a program database and generates data from it.

Reverse engineering aims to create documentation for a legacy system and speed up maintenance work by making a system easier to understand.

Reverse engineering is frequently used in software security to ensure the system is free of major security defects or vulnerabilities.

5. Problem-solving & Critical Thinking

You must be an expert critical thinker and problem solver to be a successful ethical hacker. You must be able to think of creative solutions once you have found a possible security vulnerability. Additionally, you must have excellent communication skills to convey your results to a nontechnical team. 

Required skills to become a cybersecurity expert

1. Understanding of Hacking

You must know how to “ethically hack” to protect your company from cyber-attacks. You must gain the same skills as a hacker to understand how a system might be attacked and find an effective solution.

2. Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks

The Internet of Things (IoT) allows us to stay connected with our devices in different places like home and office. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of interconnected devices that includes laptops, tablets, webcams, routers, smartwatches, home appliances, cars, home security systems, and more. The sensitive information could get stolen if the hackers gain control of these IoT environments.

As a result, it is important to ensure that the proper security measures are in place so that IoT devices can be left alone to carry out their tasks automatically without the need for cybersecurity specialists.

📌 Relevant read: Lean about cybersecurity pros and cons.

3. Programming

Your potential opportunities in cybersecurity may be limited if you have no experience with coding.  A basic understanding of programming languages like Java, PHP, C, or C++ is essential for any cybersecurity professional. Understanding computer languages will enable you to identify future system attacks and create the right solution.

4. Cloud Security

Companies seek security experts who can work on public and hybrid cloud platforms like AWS and Azure. More companies are using cloud infrastructure to operate applications and store data. This involves the implementation of policies and technologies that protect cloud-based devices and systems.

5. Blockchain Security

Blockchain’s popularity is growing because of the level of security it provides. Therefore, cybersecurity experts should familiarise themselves with blockchain and how it handles security problems. Think of it as planning for the future.

6. Risk analysis

Cybersecurity experts must identify, control, and reduce risks. Risk management and mitigation skills will be in high demand in the future decades.

7. Information Security

Companies require skilled experts who can protect their electronic data from unauthorized access.

📌Relevant read: Does cybersecurity engineering require mathematic skills?

Ethical hacking and cyber security: Which one should you choose?

It depends on your interest and goals. Both of these careers required great interest in the field of computer science and information technology. Both Bachelor in Computer science and IT is preferred education for this career.

While cyber security focuses on defending systems from malicious attacks and potential threats, ethical hacking concentrates on using hacking techniques to test the security of computer systems. Ethical hacking might be a better choice if you want to learn more about computer networks and systems.

However, a career in cyber security is better if you’re more interested in defending and protecting computer systems. 

Is hacking under cyber security?

Yes, ethical hacking comes under cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a vast topic of study.

Data security, digital forensics, ethical hacking, and many other IT and network security techniques are all included in the broad field of cybersecurity. Ethical hacking is also one of its many subjects.

What is the difference between cyber ethics and cyber security? 

Cyber ethics is a field of computer science behaviour that specifies the best practices that a user must follow while using the computer system. In simple words, cyber ethics means morally correct behaviour while using computer systems. Cyber ethics protects individuals’ financial, moral, and social behaviour.

 Whereas, Cybersecurity aims to protect computer networks from cyberattacks and unauthorized access. Cybersecurity is a defensive job that focuses on how to protect the system. To identify security flaws, cybersecurity professionals keep testing the system and upgrading it frequently.

Do ethical hackers need coding?

Yes, ethical hacking requires coding. Programming language knowledge is essential for ethical hackers because they need to analyze code and make changes as per the requirement. Programming is the key skill to keep as a professional ethical hacker.

It takes versatility to be an ethical hacker. Professionals can use the programs more effectively if they have coding skills. Starting with Java and Python can be a good option to become an expert in this field.

What is the salary of ethical hackers? 

According to Glassdoor, an average Ethical hacker Earns up to 5.2 LPA, and a fresher can earn up to 3 LPA in India.

ethical hacking salary

However, it depends on where you work and the type of company you work for. If you work for a startup or small company, your monthly salary will be lower than in companies like Google or Microsoft.

The average Ethical Hacker’s salary in the United States is $90,459, depending on job location, company size, and years of experience.

ethical hacker salary in the us

What is the salary of cybersecurity experts?

In India, an average cybersecurity professional earns up to 12 Lakh annually. Cybersecurity expert can be a good career option in India as many companies provide additional bonuses and Incentives with a basic salary.

cyber security salary

An Average cyber security executive can earn up to $94,967 /yr in the United States. 

cybersecurity salary in the us

The salary of a cybersecurity manager in the United States is$1,30,559, and it differs on job location, company size, and years of experience.

Can I learn about ethical hacking in cyber security? 

Yes, but you will only learn the basics of ethical hacking in the study of cybersecurity. That does not mean you can become a hacker with this. Cyber security is an extended topic; you will find subtopics like ethical hacking.

 Anyone with a computer science degree or a basic degree in science background can learn Ethical hacking. You need a basic understanding of digital communications, programming, and computer skills.

With these skills, you can join courses to learn the basics of ethical hacking, such as IoT hacking, cloud computing, SQL Skills, Linux Skills, cryptography and Basic Hardware Knowledge, wireless network hacking, and more.

Samruddhi Chaporkar

Article by

Samruddhi Chaporkar

Samruddhi is a Technical Content Writer of science and technology with an academic qualification in Bachelors in Computer Applications (BCA). Her love for writing and knowledge of computer science helps her write about trends in the technology industry that help people understand the ins and outs of the world of technology.

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