How many hours in a day you use online mediums such as apps,  websites and TV? You would be amazed to know the average number of hours we stay connected to the internet. According to a recent report by Hootsuite,  in 2018 we spent an average of  6 hours and 42 minutes online each day. Which makes it more than 100 days of connectivity in a year (source).

Besides the benefits of internet that we seek, we are at constant risk of data breaches in digital world.  The information at threat varies from your personal physical address to your health info, your date of birth and even your payment/ banking information.

Data breach might cost you a lot of money. Just imagine how adversely large organizations  would be affected by these cyber crimes. According to IBM statistics, the average cost of data breach incurred by companies in 2019 is $ 3.9 million. This study was conducted by interviewing 22,000 professionals from 477 companies. The report further revealed that breach is identified in around 200 days (source). The more days it takes for identification and containing a security breach the more it costs. Breaches may impact the organizations for years.

Previously, rise in malware and phishing attacks have been witnessed by large and medium sized firms. Consequently, firms are investing a fortune to protect their programs, data, networks, and systems from malicious attackers. By 2025, the cyber security market size is expected to reach $258.99 billion (source). Thus creating a huge demand and growth opportunities for cybersecurity professionals.

The New York Times reports predicted that job openings for cybersecurity professionals will rise from one million positions in 2014 to 3.5 millions worldwide, by the year 2021 (source). Jobs like cybersecurity manager, cybersecurity consultant, cybersecurity analyst and  network engineer with the right skill set including ethical hacking being the most prominent, would be in high demand in the upcoming year. Let's grasp ethical hacking as a concept and its scope in digital landscape.

  1. What is Ethical Hacking?

The practice of ensuring network security by finding weak points and fixing vulnerabilities in a firm’s information systems is referred to as Ethical Hacking. This involves testing the security systems using numerous methodologies including penetration testing.

  1. Who is an Ethical Hacker?

An individual or a firm that attempts to bypass the security system of a  firm’s information systems to identify and exploit weak points that may cause threats of data breaches or other malicious attacks.

An Ethical hacker is proficient in hacking but executes this with the permission of the firm’s owners or management. The target firm must ensure that the skilled cyber security professional has not bypassed any law of the firm and reported each and every weakness to the authorized person.

An Ethical hacker often referred  as White Hat uses the same approach including methodologies and tools as a malicious hacker. The sole objective of an ethical hacker is to safeguard the networks, to improve the security and to protect the firm from data loss, financial loss and other types of damages. In contrast to Black Hat hackers having the intentions to harm. The terms white hat and black hat come from cowboy movies in which heroic characters wear white whereas negative characters wear black hats.

White hat hackers are in high demand as mentioned earlier in the article. Currently , the average income of ethical hackers reaches upto $99,000, according to stats revealed by Indeedin .com. EC-Council’s Senior director Steven Graham stated starting salary of a certified ethical hacker as $95,000. Average monthly income in USA is $9,954, in the start  of 2020.

With USA being the most adversely affected country by cyberattacks,  where the average cost of data breach was as high as $7.91 million in 2018,Ethical hackers are earning from $1,875  to $15,625. Looking at the salaries offered to white hat hackers in different areas, it is revealed that average pay ranges vary as low as about $5,917.The average salaries are quite high irrespective of the areas in which cyber security professionals reside or work.  

Things are not as simple as they look, these overwhelming stats depicting attractive scope of cyber security professionals come with some complications. Authorized Chief Information Security officers worldwide doubt the expertise and skills of the available cybersecurity resource personnels. According to Harvard Business Review, 58% of CISOs are sure about the skills gap of ethical hackers and they are worried about the unavailability of professionals with the right skill set. Growing cybersecurity industry is in dire need of professionals who are proficient not only in technical skills but also in technical writing, data science, leadership, engineering and networking.

 Job outlook for 2020 shows that these professionals should be equipped with the skills to cater to the complex scenarios imparted by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The demand for cybersecurity professionals is showing rising trends with competitive salaries. Thankfully,  professional Ethical Hacking certifications are conveniently available and accessible for professionals who want to pursue this promising career.

  1. Summary:

With technology taking over firms worldwide, not only the business processes have been optimized but the businesses are facing increased threat of more sophisticated cyber attacks.To avoid such attacks that cause data and financial losses, firms are hiring professionals who can ensure the security of their information systems..

Ethical hackers use same tools as malicious hackers to point out vulnerable points that make their systems prone to data breaches and cost a lot of money to these firms. Cybersecurity industry is growing tremendously creating opportunities for professionals who want to pursue their career in this industry. Average salary of ethical hackers, according to a study is 99, 000 $ , making it a promising career. Formal training and certification is required for this job with advanced skills such as engineering, data science, programming and machine learning.