The Top 5 Places to Learn Ethical Hacking Online in 2024
No organization is absolutely safe from a data breach in today's digital world. To protect against this ever-present threat, companies are investing in security controls like encryption, VPNs and multi-factor authentication (MFA) as well as creating vulnerability management programs. These measures don't cover all digital security risks, however, which is why organizations are hiring or even employing ethical hackers to test the security of their systems.
Ethical hacking looks to be a promising career over the next few years. Cybersecurity Ventures forecasts that global IT security spending will exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021. Such growth will no doubt include investments in ethical hackers, who already enjoy an average salary of more than $70,000 a year.
The current time is ideal to dive into ethical hacking. Prepared to begin? Here are five leading platforms where you can gain the required expertise and certifications to launch your ethical hacking career. (Please note that these platforms are presented in alphabetical order and are not ranked.)
An online provider of digital security training, Cybrary offers multiple resources for the wannabe ethical hacker including a study guide to the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) exam and a micro-course on ethical hacking and penetrating testing with Kali Linux. It also hosts a few blog posts that explain what ethical hacking is and how students can use Cybrary to become an ethical hacker. One of those articles even sets forth a study program for what Cybrary-specific classes students should take if they hope to become an ethical hacker someday.
The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) offers the Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) program, a track of study which many hail as the most advanced ethical hacking course in the world. The certification process exposes students to 18 comprehensive modules and 140 labs consisting of 270 attack technologies and 2,200 of the most common hacking tools. Enrollment in the course costs between $850 and $900 depending on the student's country of residence. That amount doesn't include the cost of application for the CEH exam, a four hour multiple-choice test consisting of 125 questions.
3. InfoSec Institute
Two distinguished courses in ethical hacking are available through the InfoSec Institute, a provider of information security training which has been in operation for 17 years. The first course, Ethical Hacking Boot Camp - CEH v9 Training, exposes students to penetrating testing technologies, stealthy network reconnaissance, and other concepts via nightly capture the flag (CTF) hacking exercises and other activities. Advanced Ethical Hacking Boot Camp builds upon students' knowledge of ethical hacking with 31 hands-on labs where participants learn how to exploit secured applications and attack VPNs.
4. Offensive Security
Professional penetration testers working for Offensive Security have created the Offensive Security Certified Expert (OSCE) certification. Students of the program learn how to spot vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in different operating systems and conduct attacks in an organized manner. All of their training culminates in the final exam: a remotely hosted vulnerable network that students must compromise within a 48-hour time period.
Respected IT security training provider SANS Institute routinely offers a Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking course. Over the course of 30 hands-on labs, students gain practical, real-world knowledge about the tools, techniques, and methodologies involved with conducting a penetration test. It begins by teaching students how to plan, scope, and recon a target network. From there, participants learn how to scan, execute password attacks, and manipulate web apps. The course culminates with a full-scale penetration test where students are expected to apply all of their knowledge against a sample target organization. SANS also offers courses in mobile device security and ethical hacking as well as in advanced ethical hacking, penetrating testing, and exploitation techniques.
6. Hacker House
Editor's note: After publishing this article, readers contacted us and insisted we add in Hacker House.
What started out as a series of hackathons soon turned into one of the most well-known ethical hacking resources out there. Hacker House offers a hands-on hacking course with real-world simulations, all from the comfort of your home. You have the option to learn on site with the teachers or to stream the program when you have time. Hacker House also provides courses for companies to quickly train and scale their security teams.
Ethical Hacking on the Rise
Many organizations are likely to bring on ethical hackers in some capacity to test their networks as they invest more in strengthening their digital security. To make the most of this anticipated demand, individuals can use the courses above to become certified ethical hackers. They can then leverage those credentials to protect organizations for years to come.
Is there a notable ethical hacker program that's missing from this list? If so, speak up in the comments section.