In This Chapter
Understanding hackers' and malicious users' objectives
Differentiating between ethical hackers and malicious attackers
Examining how the ethical hacking process came about
Understanding the dangers that your computer systems face
Starting to use the ethical hacking process
This book is about hacking ethically — the methodology 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 and information security practitioners are obligated to perform 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 this book's Introduction.
Most people have heard of hackers and malicious users. Many have even suffered the consequences of hackers' criminal actions. So who are these people? And why do you need to know about them? The next few sections give you the lowdown on these attackers.
In this book, I use the following terminology:
Hackers (or external attackers) try to compromise computers and sensitive information for ill-gotten gains ...