What is Ethical Hacking?


Hacking is a way of finding system vulnerabilities and using them to gain access into that system to carry out malicious activities such as stealing sensitive information, installing malware and deleting system files.

When you are caught engaging in hacking, you can face severe consequences because it is illegal. But there are also times hacking can be done legally when done with permission. Companies often hire ethical hackers to carry out hacking and discover weak and vulnerable endpoints in their system and help fix these flaws.

This form of hacking is carried out as prevention against legitimate hackers with malicious intent. The people that carry out this form of hacking are referred to as ethical hackers, while the process is called ethical hacking.

Stages of Ethical Hacking

There are six distinct stages of ethical hacking, but they are just guidelines to be followed. They are:


The process of gathering information is called reconnaissance. The hacker collects relevant information about the target system, including operating systems, IP configuration, network layout, and detecting services, etc.  Meterpreter, Nmap, Hping, e.t.c are the tools used at the reconnaissance stage.


In this stage, hackers use tools like NMAP, Nexpose, and Nessus to check the target network or machine for exploitable vulnerabilities thoroughly.

Gaining Access

This stage involves the use of different methods to exploit the vulnerability located by the hacker during scanning. At this stage, the hacker tries to penetrate the system without raising alarms.

Maintaining Access

Maintaining access is one of the essential stages of ethical hacking. Here, different payloads and backdoors are installed onto the required system by the hacker.

Payload refers to activities carried out on a system after gaining access without being authorized. On the other hand, backdoors allow hackers to have faster access to the system in the future.

Often times persistence is gained by uploading malware onto a Windows machine on the network.  This malware uses stealthy methods to avoid being caught be antivirus and will often utilize undocumented windows structures to stay undetected.

Clearing Tracks

Clearing tracks is an unethical activity that deals with deleting the history of every action that took place during the hacking process.

But then, this stage has to be carried out by ethical hackers as a way of demonstrating how a Black Hat Hackers goes about his activities.


The last stage of the ethical hacking process is reporting. At this stage, the ethical hacker compiles his findings, and the job done as a report, including the vulnerabilities found, exploit processes, success rate, tools used etc.

What is Footprinting?

Footprinting is the first step of ethical hacking that allows a hacker put as much information as possible together to discover the type of suitable attack for the target or find ways of intruding into a target system.

What is Fingerprinting

In ethical hacking, fingerprinting is both passive and active. It involves any method used to discover the target computer’s running operating system.

Active Fingerprinting

This method of fingerprinting is achieved by sending uniquely crafted packets to the specific system. Then, the response is noted, and the information is analyzed to determine the specific OS.

Passive Fingerprinting

On the other hand, passive fingerprinting involves sniffer traces from the remote system, which can help determine the remote host’s operating system.

Fingerprinting is carried through the analysis of different factors of a packet, including the type of service, window size, Time-To-Live, and Don’t Fragment bit.

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