Chapter 1. Introduction to Ethical Hacking

In This Chapter

  • Understanding hacker and rogue insider objectives

  • Outlining the differences between ethical hackers and malicious attackers

  • Examining how the ethical hacking process has come about

  • Understanding the dangers that your computer systems face

  • Starting the ethical hacking process

This book is about hacking ethically — the science of testing your computers and networks for security vulnerabilities and plugging the holes you find before the bad guys get a chance to exploit them.

Although ethical is an often overused and misunderstood word, Webster's New World Dictionary defines ethical perfectly for the context of this book and the professional security testing techniques that I cover — that is, "conforming to the standards of conduct of a given profession or group." IT practitioners are obligated to perform all the tests covered in this book aboveboard and only after permission has been obtained by the owner(s) of the systems — hence the disclaimer in the introduction.

Straightening Out the Terminology

We've all heard of external hackers and rogue insiders. Many of us have even suffered the consequences of their criminal actions. So who are these people? And why is it important to know about them? The next few sections give you the lowdown on malicious attackers.


In this book, I use the following terminology:

  • Hackers (or external attackers) try to compromise computers and sensitive information for ill-gotten gains — usually from the ...

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