How much do Ethical Hackers Earn?

Introduction
Technology has flourished at break neck speed in the past decade. Inventions and innovations have transformed the way we live and work. We live in an interconnected world where everything is online. While this has made our lives easier, it has also made us vulnerable to sophisticated cyber criminals, who at their malicious best attack not just an individual but even a company, and in more brazen attacks even a nation’s security and financial health.


According to the latest report by Verizon, 70% of cybercrimes were caused by malicious hackers and outsiders. With a lot of sensitive data now being present online, the perception threat has steadily grown over the years.

One of the foremost methods to prevent cybercrime is to reinforce the security of IT systems. Moreover, adding a dedicated team of ethical hackers to the workforce can help fix loopholes and prevent malicious attacks. With the surge in cybercrime, the need for cybersecurity has increased. This in turn has led to a rise in the demand for skilled ethical hackers and information security professionals.

What is the CEH certification?

The CEH(Certified Ethical Hacking) credential from EC-Council demonstrates that you have hands-on knowledge of niche techniques used by security professionals and hackers to prevent cyber-attacks. CEH also provides skills to assess the security aspects, scan the infrastructure, and detect vulnerabilities in the organizations. With the CEH course, you can:

  • Enter into the industry as a security professional
  • Learn the hacker mentality to get a step ahead of cybercriminals
  • Boost your career in IT security
  • Improve your skills and knowledge which is a primary requirement for career advancement

The demand for Ethical Hackers

According to Forbes, “in this current year of 2020-21, the Global security market is worth $173 billion and within the next 5 years this will grow to around $270 billion.” Statistics by the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network show that organizations across the globe are expected to raise their security budget by 8% annually.

The demand for Ethical Hackers

Source: austcyber.com

Malicious cyber activities are increasing around the world, as cybercriminals are using sophisticated strategies for infiltration of systems and networks. Therefore, the demand for cybersecurity experts or ethical hackers will continue to increase.

Opportunities for an ethical hacker

In India alone, more than 20,000 websites faced defacement, DDoS, or ransomware attacks just in 2019 as per the report of CERT(Indian Computer Emergency Response Team).

Therefore, from private organizations to government entities, everyone needs an ethical hacker or security professional to counter unauthorized hacking and strengthen their security needs. As per the NASSCOM report, there will be 72000 security professionals in the coming years.

Types of roles and responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker

Cybersecurity experts will get various types of work opportunities from small scale organizations to giant tech corporations, government agencies, research organizations, and many others.

The work of ethical hackers will differ and is not limited to the size and requirement of the organization, but also the skills and experience of hackers. However, here are some overall responsibilities expected from ethical hackers.

  • To protect IT infrastructures, networks, devices, and data from cybercriminals
  • Monitor application and network performance
  • To perform security tests to validate the strength of application, devices, and network
  • Implement information security management system to be followed by the entire organization
  • To set detection and prevention facilities and make a barrier from outer /unauthorized access
  • To stay connected with top management with updated risk management and business continuity plans.

To perform all the above tasks and operations there are multiple designations hired by organizations, ranging from entry-level security personnel to CISO (Chief Information Security Officer). This pyramid shows the various levels of roles for cyber security professionals.

Job roles and salaries

Ethical hackers can take on a variety of roles.

  1. Consulting – As explained earlier, almost all organizations require security professionals to secure their network,  data, devices, etc. Some organizations prefer to outsource the security solution rather than hire on their own.  In this case, the organization expects customized security solutions and suggestions and advice on protection of their assets against cyber-attacks.
  2. Bug bounty – Many organizations and tech giants organize bounty programs for hackers to find out vulnerabilities in their applications or websites and offer attractive cash prices.
  3. Training – Ethical hackers can provide training to professionals and students for advancement in their careers. These types of training also help to spread awareness in the society against cybercrime and to keep them secure from any potential fraud.
  4. Events – Tech giants like Tesla invites hackers to hack their cars. There are similar events for hackers to perform their skills and earn prizes, or in some cases jobs with handsome packages.

The salary range for ethical hackers

Lucrative salaries are the most attractive part of this profession. Salaries in this field vary based on location, designation, skill, and experience. As we have seen in the pyramid earlier, there are multiple roles in the security field, with packages increasing from bottom to top. All organizations value their security, and are ready to pay top dollar for qualified candidates.

As per a survey, the average salary of an ethical hacker or information security officer is INR 12,00,000 per annum with 3-5 years of experience. This is just an average figure. In some cases in New Delhi & Mumbai, suitable candidates got paid as much as up to INR 18,00,000 p.a. even without work experience.

The package information mentioned above was just for India. Let’s have a look at the below table to understand the worldwide salary ratio based on designation and experience.

Do you have the skills for it?

Before you decide to pursue ethical hacking as a profession, here are some skills you have to master:

  • Focus
  • Patience
  • Strategy making ability
  • Good Communication
  • Curiosity
  • Discipline
  • Zest for learning
  • Thinking out of the box
  • Positive attitude

Top 10 technical skills:-

  • Excellent computer skills  
  • Linux
  • Networking & Infrastructure
  • Programming skills
  • Database management systems
  • Cryptography
  • Cloud technologies
  • Web application
  • Wireless technologies
  • Penetration Testing

Importance of ethics

Have you heard the term ‘Royal Guards’?  It refers to an elite group of highly skilled warriors who act as a monarch’s personal security guards. The monarch and the kingdom trust them and feel safe while surrounded by royal guards.

In this field as well, an ethical hacker or a team of security professionals act as royal guards of the organization. Organizations trust the security professionals expecting security and implicit loyalty. Security professionals must be highly ethical, as they can have access to the most vital information systems, data, or any other assets. An ethical hacker must follow ethical /genuine practices during the entire employment term (and even after leaving a company) and uphold the trust of the management.

EC-Council has written 19 steps of  ‘Code – of – Ethics’ which must be followed by all ethical hackers to maintain the dignity of the profession.

Below is a sample:

As an ethical hacker, you must keep private and confidential information gained in your professional work (in particular as it pertains to client lists and client personal information). You should not collect, give, sell, or transfer any personal information (such as name, e-mail address, Social Security number, or another unique identifier) to a third party without the client’s prior consent.

Conclusion

Highly skilled hackers will always be in demand because in the digital age, all organizations need to stay protected from hackers at any cost. This is a career that is surely future-proof!

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