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ethical hacking
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What are the phases of ethical hacking?


What is ethical hacking?

Ethical hacking is a licensed practice of bypassing system security to spot potential data breaches and threats in a network. It includes duplicating strategies and actions of malicious attacks.

A person involved in this field of cybersecurity is a security analyst or an ethical hacker.

Phases of ethical hacking

Now, let’s discuss the five steps of ethical hacking.

Phase 1: Reconnaissance

This is the most important and the first phase in ethical hacking to get the right path. This phase is also referred to as the footprinting & the information gathering phase.

A hacker gathers data about a target before launching an attack and finds valuable information such as old passwords and names of necessary employees.

Usually, information about three groups is collected.

  • Network
  • Host
  • People involved

Types of footprinting

Footprinting is split into further two phases, i.e., active and passive.

  1. Active: Direct interaction with the target to collect information regarding the target.

  2. Passive: Instead of directly accessing a target, an attacker attempts to collect information about a targetperson under attack through social media, public Wi-Fi, public websites, etc.

Phase 2: Scanning

To pull attacks, hackers seek any information that is useful like computer names, IP addresses, and user accounts at this phase.

The hacker finds a fast way to gain access to the network and gaze for information.

There are multiple tools like:

  • network mappers
  • dialers
  • sweepers
  • vulnerability scanners
  • port scanners

that are utilized to scan data.

Types of scanning

Four types of scans are used at this stage:

  1. Pre-attack: Hackers scan the network before gathering specific data supported by the information that is gathered during reconnaissance.

  2. Port scanning/sniffing: Hackers use the dialers, port scanners, and different data gathering instrumentality is concerned in this phase.

  3. Vulnerability scanning: Hackers scan the target for weaknesses/vulnerabilities.

  4. Information extraction: During this step, hackers collect particular information about ports, live machines and OS details, the topology of networks, routers, firewalls, and servers.

Phase 3: Gaining access

At this point, the hacker designs the network map to decide how to carry out the attack. Malicious actors can perform multiple tasks, but it depends.

For instance, these can be:

  • Phishing attacks
  • Man in the middle attacks
  • Brute force attacks
  • Spoofing attacks
  • DOS attacks
  • Buffer overflow attacks
  • Session hijacking
  • BEC attacks

Phase 4: Maintaining access

Once a hacker has gained access to a system to the point that it is vulnerable, he wants to stay that access for future exploitation and attacks.

Trojans, Rootkits or other malicious files are used for the sake of purpose. The goal is to keep their access to the target until the tasks they planned to accomplish in the target are finished.

Phase 5: Clearing tracks

An intelligent malicious actor always sets to clear all pieces of evidence so that nobody traces the footprints leading to them.

The attacker can do this by:

  1. Clearing the cache and cookies.

  2. Modifying registry values.

  3. Modifying/corrupting/deleting the values of Logs.

  4. Clearing out Sent emails.

  5. Closing all the open ports.

  6. Uninstalling all scripts or applications.


cyber security
ethical hacking
computer networks
network security

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