1. Finalise your choice of topic.
2. Search for relevant literature and related work and write a literature review.
3. Decide on a research method and design the project (e.g. explain which case study you have chosen or describe how the experiments or surveys will be run).
4. Identify ethical and professional considerations and management thereof (e.g. do you require ethics approval? How does it fit with the ACS Code of Ethics? How will you store data? Etc.).
5. Develop a time plan for your project. Identify stakeholders and include communication/interaction steps in your plan (e.g. workshops, meetings, conferences).
6. Identify key constraints for your project: these could include costs, time, quality, risks etc. While a complete costing is not required, attention should be paid to the cost of equipment, surveys, etc. A mitigation plan for significant risks should be included.
7. Write a structured report, including:
c. Need/aim of the research
d. Background and literature review
e. Research plan (e.g. scope, question, hypotheses, methodology, etc.)
f. Research constraints
g. Time plan and budget
h. Conclusion and further work
i. Acknowledgements and references.
8. The report should use language appropriate for the intended audience
Definition of Ethical Hacking
An increase in growth of internet and technology has brought great things such as Net banking, Cloud Computing, Email, Social Media among others, but there is a Dark side known as Hacking, Back doors, breaching our right to privacy. It is the biggest problem faced by many organizations, people, government and private companies all over the world (Wilhelm 2009). Hacking can be in any form from abducting credit card numbers to reading emails and recording videos by the camera of your own devices (Veruggio et al 2016, p.2160). But there is also a good side of hacking known as ethical hacking where white-collar hackers come in that is to say they help people from hacking or people who are suffered by hacking. Security for our systems is vital in protecting data (Yang 2009, p.20). The paper is meant to describe the meaning of hacking, the aims of ethical hacking, how it is trained and how it affects the world IT department, in relation to already written articles (Venter and Eloff 2000, p.15).
The growth of internet has brought many good things such as electronic commerce, e-mail, easy access to vast stores of reference material among others. However, to maintain the relevance of dynamism in the internet, there is need to maintain high levels of security and one of the more effective ways of testing system security is by ethical hacking. Using an ethical hacking technique, activities focus on to identify, and exploit security vulnerabilities and subsequent implementation of corrective measures (Logan and Clarkson 2005). Through the ethical hacking process, organizations are able to evaluate the extent of success or failure of their current security measures and also to prevent criminal hackers who can secretly link the organization’s information to unauthorized parties, putting the company at a danger (Graves 2010). These types of hackers are called black hat hackers, and in order to overcome such major/ alarming issue, another type of hackers came in place and these are the ethical hackers (Hafele 2004).
Various research has been carried out on ethical hackers, their skills and how they go about helping their customers. It is noted that ethical hackers perform the hack as security tests for their systems and this type of hacking is legal and trustworthy. In other terms, ethical hacking is the process of testing for the security level and availing the needs for the improvement of technology (Reddy et al. 2010, p.189). It focuses on securing and protecting the IP systems. According to a research made, understanding an ethical hacker is more complicated than understanding the public itself (Farsole et al 2010, p.15). Technology is ever growing and we are facing tools and gadgets that are beneficial to people depending on their usage, and on the other side, they are more vulnerable to hacking. This is where ethical hacking comes in as a preventive step in ensuring the information safety (Krutz and Vines 2007). It constitutes tools that can find and exploit a security weakness. Ethical hackers use the same tools and techniques of hackers to test and evaluate system security. It is an effective tool that can assist companies, people and government to protect data against hackers if used ethically well.
Aims of Ethical Hacking
This therefore brings as to the point that, information security holds an important place in information technology and information system as a whole. Computers and systems use as many updates as new technologies come up day after day some of which include; cloud computing, virtualization among others to be able to deal with security issues (Johnson 2017). Ethical hackers must think and work carefully, that is the reason why all the academic curriculum has the "attacker" and "defender” perspective for students to know how a hacker thinks and performs attacks and how to defend them by adjusting their systems, policies, and architecture accordingly (Engebretson 2013). With keeping all of the above in mind, ethical hacking has become talk of the town. Students are being taught hacking at schools, organizations have been setup providing hacking courses and certifications for individuals which has led to increase in the number of hackers in down side towns and they are mostly trained to aid in the prevention of cybercrimes and hacking (Graves 2007). Questions are being raised such as is ethical hacking solving our problems or creating new ones? Ethics form a core part of any activity as breaking the ethics or not having any may cause damage instead of benefit. Logan and Chatzidakis and Mitussis (2007) found that a course in information and security should emphasize the ethical responsibility of the security professional who are entrusted to protect data assets. So, ethical hacking is an assessment to check and test an information technological environment for possible links and vulnerabilities. It describes the process of hacking a network in an ethical way.
Then another question may arise of what generally is ethical hacking? It can be defined as breaking into a computer system with an aim of securing an information environment. Ethical comes in to put a positive touch and explain something normal and legal because it is assumed that hacking is illegal so ethical comes in to legalize it (Harper et al 2011). Hacking describes the process of attacking computer systems and get access to certain information. Ethical hacking can be categorized as an assessment of security, a kind of evaluating, or a test of security of an information technology environment. An ethical hack shows the risk an IT environment is facing and actions that can be taken to reduce this risk. Ethical hacking therefore perfectly fit in the security life cycle which includes planning, policy enforcement or implications, monitoring and managing, intrusion detection, security assessment, threat analysis, and security policy creation. As the name ethical hacking tells, the idea has something to do with hacking which refers to the profession of working with computers by breaking into it (Tavani 2011).
Training in Ethical Hacking
Ethical hacking has been a vital topic given the contribution of information technology in the society. There has been a lot of arguments as on if it is actually ethical or not due to the incidents in the past, of misusing the same tools used for a good purpose for accomplishing illegal intentions (Harvey 2004.). As intentions of people cannot be determined to understand the motives of each ethical hacker, and it’s quite difficult Issue pertaining to it (Harvey 2004). It has been highlighted in the media and there have been reports that over 90% of the attacks happen on the inside. There is a question that has ethical hacking reduced problems or has it created new ones? Research has been done in this report to find out if hacking should be taught to students, and should it be legalized or not. Logan and Clarkson said intention of the person may depend if he wants to use it for good or bad (Veruggio and Bekey 2016, p.2160). Questions like should faculties teach ethical hacking to students? Should the students be screened before them sign-up for a course in hacking? And many others have been posed already, The response received showed a clear picture but was limited to few aspects such as should it be made mandatory for all computer science students to learn at least one aspect of hacking which might help in giving them a little grasp of the subject and should they be authorized to take actions? And other questions plus arguments were raised (Foulger et al. 2009, p.10). The aim of this research proposal is to address the above questions and other main questions like;
Does really ethical hacking follow the ethics?
Should ethical hacking be legalized?
Should it be taught to young students?
Is there an impact brought by ethical hacking to the modern society?
How has ethical hacking contributed to the development of the information technology environment?
How is the ethical hacking process developed?
Getting the response to these questions will help in understanding and focusing on the real underlying issue of ethical hacking being used as a defensive tool for securing our systems. As earlier referred to, Logan and Clarkson added that a deep insight in the background of the student might help in identifying if he is eligible for studying ethical hacking (Graves 2010).
To obtain answers for the critical questions above, an assessment was made for our research proposal in the form of an online survey technique and consultations of different articles based on qualitative research analysis.
Research on Ethical Hacking
In our results/ analysis, we found out that Ethical hacking has been in existence and it has been a very curtail tool used by almost the entire major organizations for advancing their security tactics. The first ever ethical hacking team formed was back in 1950 called Tiger team which helped in securing the system. Another famous incident in 2011 where about 77 million Sony PlayStation accounts were compromised by a hacking group known as Lulzsec which made all the PlayStation services to go down and led to heavy loss of data and made people think that there was always a possibility of attack (Nelson 2014, p.520).
Jami and Khan (2011) describes the case of Morris, a student at MIT who developed the Morris worm which caused severe crashing of about 2000 PCs in only a duration of few hours, experts were able to stop the worm immediately by putting a great effort. The case of Morris worm shows that ethical hacking was supposed to be a defensive mechanism but its wrongful use made its teaching doubtful. Morris was a high distinctive student, who had knowledge of security but the questions comes what made him do such an activity, these kind of incidents lead us to doubt if hacking is actually ethical or not and the say that every ethical hacker has his or her intentions
In our review of Ethical Hacking and penetration Guide, Rafay (2013) justifies that Ethical hacking follows ethics because it is recommended since it does not generate any log of presence on the target system. The best example of this is to use Linked in, Facebook, among other social networks to get information from the employees and to know their interests. This is vital when performing phishing, key logging, browser exploitation, and other client side attacks on the employees.
According to Reddy (2010), the hacking process is planned in advance; all the technical management and strategically issues must be considered. Planning is crucial for any amount of testing from a simple password test to all penetration test on a web application. Backup data must be ensured, if not the testing may be called off unexpectedly if someone claims they never authorized for the tests and the process involves specific systems to be tested, risks that involves, test preparation schedule, gather and explore knowledge among others
On the other side, Harper et al (2011) gives a brief statement of a young hacker from the UK Hutchins who stopped the world’s biggest hacking attack in the history, by finding a kill switch in the attack script. This type of incident shows the bright side of ethical hacking. Through keeping these things in mind, it is said that, regulated use of hacking will be under ethics and leads us to further investigation about the topic.
Ethical Hacking in Information Security
Training students to be ethical professionals should begin with an instructor as quoted by Logan & Clarkson (2005) by finding an ethical solution to the problem which may help in regulating its use and demonstrating legal practice which will certainly aid in the betterment of ethical behavior of students guidelines and punishment for inappropriate computer morals, among other items. Pastel (2006) quoted that it is still necessary for the documentation of guidelines and punishment for inappropriate computer behavior, among other items.
Kaupins and Park (2011) found out that protecting current system and networks requires a wide understanding of the strategies which may attack and affect the system and should have depth knowledge of the hacker’s tactics, tools and motivations. He went on and clarifies that effective ethical hacking is based on the knowledge of the system network, equipment, user intention, interaction policies, procedures, physical security and business culture. Furthermore, the increasing use of social engineering attack methodologies calls for each tester as aware of the organization and habits of its information technology users (Kaupins and Park 2011, p.92).
According to Regalado et al (2010), the important of ethical hacking is to test the resources for a good cause and for the betterment of the technology. Technically it is penetration testing which is focused on securing and protecting IT systems. It scans the computer’s networks or the application and looks for potential weakness that could be used by the attackers to accomplish their aims. It also magnifies the system by sending specific data to target the network and based on its analysis of response received from the aim or target, it may be able to determine many things such as open ports, services, operating system vulnerabilities among others.
Tiller (2004) starts with an overview of ethical hacking and the role of the ethical hacker. She reviews the kinds of threats networks face, and introduces the five phases of ethical hacking, from reconnaissance to covering your tracks. She also covers penetration-testing techniques and tools. The materials map directly to the "Introduction to Ethical Hacking" competency from the CEH Body of Knowledge, and provide an excellent jumping off point for the next courses in this series. She also says that Ethical hacking is a key in strengthening network security, and it's one of the most desired skills for any IT security professional when you're interested in becoming an ethical hacker, or getting started to securing your own network. Therefore it has played a big role in developing the information technology modern environment users
This is a secondary research which will cover a world wide scope by consulting already written research in different articles and online survey to get the response to the proposed research questions and carrying out different activities in the specific time period. The paper will evaluate the concept of ethical hacking as to why it is developed, its roles to the IT environment and the consequences (Palmer 2001). The documentation will vary depending on the area where the scope covers and the amount of resources dedicated to data collection. The research will also update the coverage of some documents, by establishing the existing gaps and identifying/ adding new information to the topic area (Kaupins and Park 2011, p.92).
The main question being answered in this research proposal is generally “is ethical hacking really ethical?” In other words, how does ethical hacking operates? And does it follow ethics?
This is a single guess that tentatively express good hunches, expected relationship between independent and dependent variables. In our research proposal, we are expecting to get firsthand information from our proposed resources which is expected to be an easy and quick process and mainly our topic of ethical hacking will be fully analyzed. Individuals in our group who don’t know this method of data collection shall be trained by technical experts and they are expected to have the ability to gather relevant information (Nelson 2014, p.515).
For this research, our hypothesis will be “ethical hacking is ethical”
And from the hypothesis, an analysis and evaluation will be carried out basing on the outcome of the research reports.
In our research the methodology used to get data was qualitative research methodology based on both primary secondary research which is the analysis of the available literature and collecting of firsthand information through online respectively. Secondary research is the collection of data that was gathered earlier by other researchers, institutions, and Non-government organization, extra. In our research, data was undertaken with care and diligence to provide a cost-effective way of gaining a broad understanding of our research questions. This research methodology provided a baseline in which we came to compare our collection results which were got depending obviously on the focus of our study topic (Foulger et al. 2009, p.10). We used this methodology to collect data from the following sources;
Scholarly journals; these contains of reports of original research and experimentation written by experts in different fields. Articles undergo a peer review where other experts in the same field review the same article for relevance and originality. Therefore by second hand analysis, we will manage to review some articles in some of the scholarly journals written by experts which are related to our topic of study (Logan and Clarkson 2005, p.157).
Reference books; by the above method of data collection, we referred to different books in order to get a summary of the answer to our research questions for example handbooks, manuals, encyclopedias, and dictionaries, plus other technical reports (Pike 2013, p.4).
During our research, we expect to acknowledge some limitations which would try to hinder our data collection. These will give us an opportunity to demonstrate that we thought critically about our research problem and that we understood the relevant literature published about it. Limitations also show that we properly assessed the methods chosen for studying the problem because the aim of the research is not only discovering new knowledge but also to explore what we don’t know. Here among others are the challenges that we came across and how they affected our work (Johnson 2017).
Lack of available and reliable data; we did not have enough reliable resources where we could get firsthand information such as journals, articles, among other references. This limited effective data collection since the scope of our study was based on a large size. By this we lacked prior research studies on our topic and limited us to easily understand the research problem that we were investigating on.
Access; since the study was secondary research, we were denied to access some of the resources due to different reasons such as use of complicated languages by some of the authors, access costs extra which hindered us from understanding the language to solve our research problem. Exercise of selectivity; since our research topic covers a large sample area, and needs consultation to many resources, reviewing of the information became overwhelmed by the large volume of the sources available (Reddy et al. 2010). If the selection is not well done would lead us to getting wrong information, it was also often difficult to determine the quality of some of the data in question. More so, since in our sources the data was not collected for the same purpose as the original researcher had his or her own goals, the purpose of the original researcher’s potentially biased our research.
Costs; the research is quite costly and involves some expenditures such as payments to Access to possible instruments to search on some of the research questions like computers for internet, Transport for each person to visit libraries where there are reliable resources such as journals, Subsistence costs for each person such as food and drinks to enable each person to have energy of carrying out the research, Special activities cost such as paying for expert to train some of our group members to know how to carry out secondary research, Monitoring and evaluating costs which involves cost of meeting and end of the research conference, Costs of consultancy services such as asking other people on suitable resources to get firsthand information, among some other small costs. These limited us to access some resources in the period where we had unlimited funds (Khan 2010, p.11).
Measure used to collect data; in the process of the collection of data, sometimes by interpreting the findings, you may discover that the way used to collect the data inhibited the ability to conduct a thorough analysis of the results for example regretting of not including a specific question or including an irrelevant one which could have helped to address a specific area that emerged later in the study. By acknowledging this, we state a need for future researchers to revise a specific method suitable for gathering data (Krutz and Vines 2007).
Secondary research involves a systematic process that being objective and gathering multitude information for analysis so that a researcher can come to the final resolution. Therefore our research was designed to have been finished within a period of one month. Below is our research time frame and the activities carried out.
Identifying the problem; this process includes identification of the problem and developing the research question. A topic was selected basing on what is needful to be addressed.
Reviewing the literature; this step involved learning more about the selected topic. Literature related to the topic was reviewed and knowledge about the problem was analyzed.
Clarifying the problem; since the problem identified on the first day was broad, there was a need to clarify and narrow the scope if it is possible by the use of the knowledge in the literature review.
Defining terms and concepts; the words and phrases used in purpose statement of study need to be specifically defined for the easy and understood report.
Defining the resources; this involved analyzing the focus resources that are used to collect information with reliable data related to our topic of study that will help to easily answer the research problem
Developing a research plan; here there was a determination of who will involve in the data collection according to our group, when and how the data will be collected and the content of the program and the plan contained of numerous decisions and considerations
Data collection; on this date, the real research was set to begin as soon as the research plan was made. This was to be done following critical steps of information gathering according to the methodology that was supposed to be used.
Analyze the data; after all the steps, the data collected need to be analyzed to make a final report. This process involves data recording, processing, and executing the final work
Like any other research proposal, various costs are estimated. Therefore a budget for our research proposal was drafted as follows;
EXPENDITURE amount ($)
Access to possible instruments to search on some of the research questions like computers for internet
Transport for each person to visit libraries where there are reliable resources such as journals.
Subsistence costs for each person such as food and drinks to enable each person to have energy of carrying out the research.
Special activities cost such as paying for expert to train some of our group members to know how to carry out secondary research.
Monitoring and evaluating costs; these involves cost of meeting and end of the research conference.
Costs of consultancy services such as asking other people on suitable resources to get firsthand information.
Drawing an insight from the literature review and the background of ethical hacking, we get to establish that it was meant for legal use and beneficial purposes. However, other people who have gained the experience from the study tend to use the knowledge to fulfil their individual interests which has led to the negative reputation of ethical hacking. The many cases of hacking different systems has drawn a conclusion of hacking as a negative practice.
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