A Penetration Tester (A.K.A Ethical Hacker) probes for and exploits security vulnerabilities in web-based applications, networks & systems.
In other words, you get paid to legally hack. In this “cool kid” job, you'll use a series of penetration tools — some predetermined, some that you simply design yourself — to simulate real-life cyber attacks. Your ultimate aim is to assist a firm to improve its security.
While it's possible to seek out employment as a penetration tester based solely on having the proper set of skills, most employers like better to hire penetration testers who have previous relevant work experience. Some employers want employees who have at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, employers may require that penetration testers have certification in ethical hacking and other IT security areas.
Most Pen Testers don’t hold a specialized degree. Since ethical hacking is more about skills than course credits, a bachelor's or master’s degree in cybersecurity makes no sense if you've got appropriate job experience.Hone your hacking skills by attending Security Conferences , earn some Certifications, look into SANS courses, set up a pen testing lab , learn from other pen testers, read and read more.
Overall, employers appear to be looking for 2–4 years of security-related experience with practice in penetration testing and vulnerability assessments. The range for Senior Penetration Testers is more variable. It may be as low as 3 and as high as 7–10 years of experience.
In addition to education, penetration testers are required to possess certain skills. They must have excellent computer skills to be able to attempt hacking systems. Most importantly, penetration testers must have exceptional problem-solving skills to be able to determine the best course of action when resolving issues and protecting networks from potential threats or breaches.
Pen testers conduct security audits, develop code, automate processes, reverse engineer binaries — the list goes on. So attempt and learn as much as you can about OS(linux, windows etc), software, communication and network protocols.
Here are technical skills we have seen employers favoring:
There is no master list of preferred certifications for pen testing. Although it’s popular within the IT industry, CEH is fairly loose. We recommend you ask colleagues about the pluses and minuses of accreditations like CPT/CEPT, GPEN and — especially — OSCP.
Penetration testers seek to identify security vulnerabilities in an organization’s networks, and then resolve them, sometimes creating new or improved security protocols. This involves many responsibilities and tasks.
As A Penetration Tester, You Will Likely Be Required To:
While the above are typical responsibilities for a penetration tester, you may have additional duties depending on the organization you work for. Sometimes there is overlap in IT positions, so it is important to be flexible and to work as part of a cohesive team.
During the penetration test, you will typically focus on exploiting vulnerabilities (e.g. making it a goal to break part of a system). But as Daniel Miessler points out in The Difference Between a Vulnerability Assessment and a Penetration Test, you don’t have to go all the way to prove your point:
“A penetration testing team may be able to simply take pictures standing next to the open safe, or to show they have full access to a database, etc., without actually taking the complete set of actions that a criminal could.”
A typical day for one penetration tester may look a lot different from another’s depending on the organization they work for. For some, there may be travel required between different sites, they may be required to work evenings or weekends to not disrupt the work flow of the company, or they may be able to perform some duties remotely or by telecommuting. But, the heart of the penetration tester position is identifying security system vulnerabilities by attempting to exploit them and then coming up with solutions to resolve the weaknesses to keep their organization’s information safe.
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