An ethical hacker (also called a white hat hacker) is a cybersecurity expert that supports organizations or governments by searching for vulnerabilities and by performing penetration testing to identify security threats. Their intention is ethical and is generally considered to be a defense against malicious hackers or black hat hackers while the information that is gathered is used to bolster the system security and to prevent malicious attacks.

Some of the ethical rules that guide ethical hackers’ intentions include:

  • Express or written permission to probe a system or network to find potential security threats or risks.
  • High regard and respect for organization or individual privacy
  • All vulnerabilities and exploits are revealed to the security experts in the organization that is being tested
  • Once the job is complete, no loopholes that can be exploited are left behind  

How Ethical Hacking has become a popular career choice

Cybercriminals and black hat hackers have always been sophisticated and ingenious in finding ways to breach security systems. Their incessant attacks that increasingly happen minute by minute, target organizations for all sorts of reasons including financial gain or to damage the organization’s reputation. That said, most attacks are often successful for the simple reason that security is easy to breach.

Almost all organizations these days have an online presence, and these organizations want to protect themselves from the devastating and crippling effects of malicious hacking. Therefore, organizations are forced, ever more, to invest in technology, cybersecurity experts, and training. In fact, it is estimated that by 2021, the global spend on cybersecurity will reach $1 trillion. Such amounts may seem astounding, but the fact is that they pale in comparison to estimated losses of $6 trillion that will be incurred annually by 2021 as a result of malicious hacking.

Without the ethical hacker who can get into the mind of a black hat hacker, bugs, security loopholes, zero-day threats, and other exploits will go unnoticed and therefore expose everyone to tremendous losses. As such, most companies now have bounty programs in addition to the standard security protocols designed to protect their systems. These bounties can pay anywhere between $500 to more than $100,000.

If you want to tap into such bounties or if you want to build a long-term fulfilling career in cybersecurity, then you need to have the skills to back up your intention or ambition. Below are some of the certifications that you could benefit from.   

What certifications can benefit your career in the cyber security domain?

1. CEH Certification

Certified Ethical Hacker

CEH is offered by EC-Council. The goal of the course is to ensure that the candidate can think like the hacker to beat the hacker.

Demand for skilled professionals

This is probably the most important certificate for an ethical hacker, and it is therefore in very high demand among employers.

Prerequisites

Candidates must either have;

  • At least two years of information security (IS) experience. OR,
  • Take a formal training course through the EC-Council costing $850.

Career benefits

Most certifications teach candidates how to configure systems securely. CEH additionally teaches candidates about the tools hackers use and more importantly how these tools are used to attack system vulnerabilities.

Salary across the globe

The average salary is approximately $70,000 per year.

How to achieve certification

Certification requires candidates to:

  • Apply for exam eligibility
  • Pay an exam fee of $950 And
  • Sit a 4-hour, 125 multiple-choice question exam.

 

2. CISSP Certification

Certified Information Systems Security Professional

The certification exam is offered by (ISC)2. The goal of the course is to ensure that the candidate can engineer, design, implement and run an IS program.

Demand for skilled professionals

Demand for professionals that can manage large and small IS systems is high. The certification is also essential for those that want to grow into positions of authority and responsibility in the cybersecurity industry.

Prerequisites

Candidates must either have at least 5-years work experience in at least two of six (ISC)2 CISSP Common Body of Knowledge domains.

Career benefits

The certificate is approved for IS professionals by the highest level of security in several large organizations and governments including the U.S. Department of Defense.

Salary across the globe

The average salary is approximately $50,000 and 118,000 per year.

How to achieve certification

Certification requires candidates to:

  • Subscribe to the (ISC)2 Code of Ethics
  • Register for the exam at the cost of $600
  • Take a 6-hour 250-question exam and achieving a scaled score of over 700 out of 1000 marks.
  • Receive endorsement from an (ISC)2 certified professional.

3. CISA Certification

Certified Information Systems Auditor

The certification exam is offered by  ISACA. The goal of the course is to ensure that the candidate demonstrates knowledge of Information Security (IS) acquisition, development, implementation, and information asset protection.

Demand for skilled professionals

The certificate is beneficial for IS auditing professionals especially those that want to grow their career to the next level in an enterprise-level organization.

Prerequisites

Candidates must either have;

  • At least 5-years of professional experience in IS security work including audit, and control
  • Up to 3-years of this experience can be substituted with educational or work experience in some instances

Career benefits

Successful candidates can demonstrate knowledge in key IS areas including IS acquisition, development, implementation, and information asset protection. These areas of expertise are crucial considerations for employers especially with regards to protecting employer assets.

Salary across the globe

The average salary is between $50,000-$120,000 per year

How to achieve certification

Certification requires candidates to:

  • Register for the exam at the cost of $575 for ISACA members or $760 for non-ISACA members
  • Take a 4-hour 150-question exam and achieving a scaled score of over 450 out of 800 marks.
  • Candidates must observe ISACA’s Standards and Code of Professional Ethics (including adhering to their Continuing Professional Education program)
  • Apply for certification after passing the exam

4. CISM Certification

Certified Information Security Manager

The certification exam is offered by ISACA. The goal of the course is to ensure that the candidate can demonstrate knowledge of best practices in international security. The certification has a focus on management.

Demand for skilled professionals

CISM professionals oversee and assess enterprise-level information systems. As such, demand for this certification is global and quite high.

Prerequisites

Candidates must either have;

  • At least 5-years of information security management experience
  • Up to 2-years of this experience can be substituted with educational or work experience in some instances.  
  • Alternatively, up to 2-years of experience can be substituted with CISSP and CISA certifications

Career benefits

The certification is valuable for IS professionals seeking a managerial capacity in IS.

Salary across the globe

The average salary is between $50,000-$162,000 per year.

How to achieve certification

Certification requires candidates to:

  • Register for the exam at the cost of $575 for ISACA members or $756 for non-ISACA members
  • Take a 4-hour 150-question exam and achieving a scaled score of over 450 out of 800 marks.
  • Candidates must observe ISACA’s Standards and Code of Professional Ethics (including adhering to their Continuing Professional Education program

5. CCSP Certification

Certified Cloud Security Professional

The certification exam is offered by a collaboration of both the (ISC)² and Cloud Security Alliance. The goal of the course is to ensure that the candidate can address security challenges that enterprises face with cloud computing.

Demand for skilled professionals

Demand scales along with the increased use of cloud computing at the enterprise level.

Prerequisites

Candidates must either have;

  • At least 5-years cumulative paid work experience in IT.
  • 3 of these years should be in information security and at least 1 year in any of the six (ISC)2 CCSP Common Body of Knowledge domains including;
    • Operations
    • Legal and Compliance
    • Cloud Applications Security
    • Cloud Data Security
    • Architectural Concepts and Design Requirements
    • Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Security

Career benefits

Successful candidates will appreciate the following benefits

  • High recognition from two respected non-profit organizations, CSA and (ISC)²
  • The certification keeps professionals abreast of currently emerging technologies as well as new threats and strategies
  • The accreditation is vendor-neutral and can, therefore, be used across different cloud platforms
  • Opportunity for employment with a good salary is high

Salary across the globe

The average salary is between $82,000 and $180,000 per year

How to achieve certification

Certification requires candidates to:

  • Sit for the exams at an accredited  Pearson Professional Center.
  • Sit for a 4-hour, 125-question multiple choice exam that covers six domains as prescribed by the (ISC)2 CISSP.
  • Candidates must achieve a score of at least 70 out of 100 points to be certified

1 COMMENT

  1. Only one of these cerificates are “hacking” certs, and it is the weakest of the certifications you can possibly get. If you handed me a resume with only ec-council certs, you wouldn’t get to the interview stage.

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