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Introduction

The modern era is continually evolving with numerous technologies surrounding our daily lives. The impact of the technologies has not eluded the business sectors. Today, many of the services by enterprises are offered online to connect to a broader customer base.

While the online platform is advantageous in many ways, the downside is the vulnerabilities to a wide range of malicious programs, hackers continually trying to crack the passwords or penetrate the network defenses of an organization to gain unauthorized access. Such factors led to increasing demand for ethical hacking provisions instilled in the organizations.

Ethical hacking is also known as penetration testing. It is the process of legally breaking into the organization’s devices, networks, and computers for testing purposes.

Ethical hacking enables determining an organization’s defense against any potential cybersecurity threat, thereby allowing the defense to upgrade as per the suggested solutions to have robust and secure security solutions.

With a growing number of business offerings on the technical platform, ethical hacking has become inevitable as hacker expertise and skills are top-notch.  Therefore, the organization’s safe keeping of critical information revolves around ethical hackers’ penetration testing. Thus, such professionals’ demand is increasing in the job market with tremendous opportunities for career growth.

The aspirants and professionals looking for a career switch must be well-equipped with the concepts and practical experience to succeed. The article lists some of the best courses for upskilling oneself to succeed as an ethical hacking professional.

1. CEH v11- Certified Ethical Hacking Course – Simplilearn

Simplilearn provides the ethical hacking course in collaboration with the well-known EC Council. In this course, the learners will be introduced to advanced concepts and processes of the virtual hacking environment.

Additionally, the learners will master the advanced network packet analysis and system penetration testing techniques to ensure an organization’s network security.

At the end of the course, the learners can develop core network security skills and build knowledge about hacking and hacking tools. The course offers additional study materials by EC Council, six months’ free access to CEHv11 ilabs, 20 current security domain use cases, and a total of 40 hours of applied learning. Some of the key concepts that are covered are:

  • Trojan backdoors and countermeasures
  • IDS Firewalls and honeypots
  • Advanced hacking concepts
  • Network packet analysis
  • Mobile and web technologies
  • Advanced log management

The course modules are listed as follows:

Module 1- Introduction to Ethical Hacking

  • Information Security Overview
  • Information Security Threats and Attack Vectors
  • Penetration Testing Concepts
  • Hacking Concepts
  • Ethical Hacking Concepts
  • Information Security Controls
  • Information Security Laws and Standards

Module 2- Footprints and Reconnaissance

  • Footprinting Concepts
  • Footprinting through Search Engines
  • Footprinting through Web Services
  • Footprinting through Social Networking Sites
  • Website Footprinting
  • Email Footprinting
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Whois Footprinting
  • DNS Footprinting
  • Network Footprinting
  • Footprinting through Social Engineering
  • Footprinting Tools
  • Countermeasures
  • Footprinting Pen Testing
  • Module 3- Scanning Networks
  • Module 4- Enumeration
  • Module 5- Vulnerability Analysis
  • Module 6- System Hacking
  • Module 7- Malware Threats
  • Module 8- Sniffing
  • Module 9- Social Engineering
  • Module 10- Denial of Service
  • Module 11- Session Hijacking
  • Module 12- Evading IDS, Firewalls, and Honeypots
  • Module 13- Hacking Web Servers
  • Module 14- Hacking Web Applications
  • Module 15- SQL Injection
  • Module 16- Hacking Wireless Networks
  • Module 17- Hacking Mobile Platforms
  • Module 18- IoT Hacking
  • Module 19- Cloud Computing
  • Module 20- Cryptography

Instructor: Dean Pompilio

Level: Intermediate/ Advanced

Video Lectures: 231 Video Lectures

User Review: 4.6/5

Price: $547 Approximately

2. Learn Ethical Hacking from Scratch – Udemy

Learn Ethical Hacking from Scratch – Udemy

The course is a bestseller among the ethical hacking certification courses on the Udemy platform. This course assures to introduce all the essential ethical hacking concepts. Additionally, the course emphasizes the practical aspects of ethical hacking.

The learners will have a thorough understanding of hacking techniques with appropriate exposure to the hacking environment with the necessary tools.

The course begins with the ethical hacking fundamentals followed by different penetration testing fields and installation procedures.

All of the concepts are covered with examples to gain deeper insights into a particular topic. The course is divided into four sections covering penetration testing or a hacking field each of the sections. The concepts of target systems and their weaknesses and the necessary practical implementation to exploit the areas to hack into such systems.

The primary sections of the course are:

Network Hacking

The section covers the critical concepts of testing the security for wired and wireless networks. The basics, the communication between networks, and how they work are key concepts covered in this section. Furthermore, pre-connection attacks and post connection attack concepts are explored in detail.

Some of the topics include the number of attacks that can be executed without being connected to a target network and without a password. Also, gathering information about the networks and the connected devices and control connections related to such networks are covered.

The critical areas to crack the key to gain access to the password of the target network and the powerful techniques that allow a hacker to gather comprehensive information of the devices include login information, passwords, URLs visited, and images and videos, are covered in-depth. 

Finally, the injection of malicious codes in the loaded pages and creating fake Wi-Fi network concepts are covered in-depth.

Gaining Access

The section covers the vital concepts of gaining complete control of a computer system. The learners will understand how server-side attacks and client-server attacks work in a hacking environment.

The learners will understand the concepts of how to gather information from a target computer and its operating system, opening ports and installed services, which can be used to discover the vulnerabilities of the system to gain complete control. Also, the scanning of servers for such attacks and generating reports with the discoveries are explored in-depth.

For situations where the target systems don’t possess weakness, the backdoors are used to attack such systems. These concepts are shown with examples along with the concepts of social engineering.

Post Exploitation

The module covers the crucial concepts on system interaction that are compromised. Also, the learners will understand how to access the file system.

Website Hacking

The final module covers the fundamental concepts of website hacking and how to gather information from a target website. Additional concepts that are covered in this section include:

  • File Upload.
  • Code Execution.
  • Local File Inclusion.
  • Remote File Inclusion.
  • SQL Injection.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).

By the end of the course, the learners will be well-equipped with each hacking technique’s mechanism and how to hack into target systems. Finally, the modification of the techniques to launch powerful attacks and adopt them for different scenarios is explored.

Instructor: Zaid Sabih and ZSecurity

Level: Beginner/ Intermediate

Video Lectures: 138 Video Lectures

User Review: 4.6/5

Price: $6.2 (Varies according to region)

3. Ethical Hacking: Understanding Ethical Hacking – Pluralsight

The course is offered on the Pluralsight platform. The course aims to build the knowledge of hacking and introduce essential ethical hacking concepts. The learners will understand how to scan for attacks to maintain network security. The motivation of a malicious attacker and the terminologies that are used in a hacking environment.

Finally, the difference between hacking and ethical hacking is covered in-depth. The learners will also understand the various types of attacks on a system and the crucial skills needed to tackle such scenarios. Besides, the course also provides insights into the types of security policies available in the cybersecurity space. The course curriculum includes the following:

 

The truth about living in a technology world

  • Introduction
  • How protected do you feel?

Overview of CEH Certification program

  • What the certification bring you?
  • Series
  • What are the expectations?
  • Review of CCA

How to build a lab to hack safely?

  • Overview
  • The host machine
  • Installing the host machine
  • Installing Hyper
  • Configure
  • Using VMware
  • Summary

Installing and Configuring your Windows Server VMs

  • Introduction and Virtual machine server 2012R2 and 2008R2

Information Security Overview

  • Introduction
  • Hacking vs. Ethical Hacking
  • Fundamentals
  • Speak like a Hacker
  • The technology triangle

Security Threats and Attack Vendors

  • Hosts
  • Natural and Physical
  • Applications
  • Host: Human
  • Networks
  • Attack Vectors
  • IPv6
  • Where do threats come from?
  • Hacking Concepts
  • Hacking Phases
  • Attack Types
  • Information Security Controls
  • How to Prepare for the Certified Ethical Hacker Exam?

Instructor: Dale Meredith

Level: Beginner

Video Lectures: 79 Video Lectures

User Review: 4.8/5

Price: 10-Day Free Trial (Charges apply after trial period. Prices available on sign up)

4. Ethical Hacking: Social Engineering – Pluralsight

The ethical hacking training program is available on the Pluralsight platform. The critical concepts of social engineering are covered in detail. As the technology controls are essential components of security defense for a system, they can be bypassed when people operating them are compromised. Such concepts are crucial for an ethical hacker to understand. Therefore, these concepts are covered in-depth.

The learners will understand the social engineering concepts and the techniques used by hackers to coerce people into performing certain actions that give an added advantage to a malicious attacker. The learners will also explore the computer-based and behavior-based tools that can help defend against such risks. The course modules are:

  • Overview
  • Social Engineering through the ages
  • The soft center that social engineering exploit
  • Human weakness enabling social engineering
  • Computer-based vs. human-based social engineering
  • Social engineering at home
  • Case Study
  • Establishing authority and creating fear
  • Executing the social engineering attack
  • Demonstrating authenticity
  • Creating a debt
  • Monetizing
  • Understanding OSINIT
  • Organizational Reconnaissance
  • Identifying targets within an organization
  • Identity reconnaissance with PiPL
  • Shoulder surfing and tailgating
  • Mail theft
  • Data breaches
  • Phishing Attacks
  • Social engineering countermeasures

Instructor: Troy Hunt

Level: Beginner

Video Lectures: 43 Video Lectures

User Review: 4.8/5

Price: 10-Day Free Trial (Charges apply after trial period. Prices available on sign up)

5. Ethical Hacking: An Introduction by Coventry University – FutureLearn

Ethical Hacking- An Introduction by Coventry University – FutureLearn

The course is offered by Coventry University in collaboration with the Institute of Coding on the Futurelearn platform. Although the course is a part of the MSc in Cyber Security program by Coventry University on the same platform, this course can be enrolled separately. The learning outcomes of the course include:

  • A thorough understanding of the legal requirements and the scope of ethical hacking.
  • Mastery with the tools used for penetration testing and its methodologies.
  • Build upon the practical experience required to operate in an ethical hacking environment.
  • To conduct an ethnically based system penetration test using appropriate techniques to explore the weakness of the target system.
  • Evaluate and report a penetration test of a system with professional standards and specify the countermeasures.

The course curriculum includes:

Ethical Hacking: An Introduction

The learners will get introduced to the ethical hacking fundamentals and get insights into the principles and methods of ethical hacking and penetration testing. The legal aspects are covered in-depth, along with the methodologies that exist in the ethical hacking environment.

Intelligence Gathering and Scanning

The key concepts on understanding the people, processes, and the technologies behind maximizing the chances of a successful attack are introduced in this module.

The takeaways from this module include Google hacking concepts, open-source intelligence gathering techniques, exploring the process of getting information from the physical structure of a target network, port scanning and fingerprinting automated vulnerability audit tools, and collecting and analyzing information to determine the attack vectors.

Exploitation

The learners will gain expertise on exploiting the vulnerabilities identified for penetrating the target system. Additionally, the learners will understand how to escalate the privilege and move to high-value targets.

Some of the key topics covered are exploitation, Metasploit, penetration, priv escalation, moving laterally, and exfiltration. 

At the end of the module, the learners will have mastery of how to explore remote shells, knowledge of payloads, investigate the frameworks, and assess vulnerabilities of remote systems.

Web Apps Penetration Testing

In this module, the learners will explore the key technologies used by web applications and the potential security issues. The learners will understand the concepts of how to assess and access web-based systems and data.

By the end of the module, the learners will understand the core web technologies and security issues, understand OWASP, manual and automated web attacks, vulnerability assessment tools for web applications, and secure web-based services.

Advanced Exploits and Reporting

The advanced hacking topics and reporting and clean-up concepts are covered in-depth. At the end of the course, the learners will have a complete understanding of advanced exploits and reverse engineering, buffer overflows and techniques for program behavior modification, shellcode generation, social engineering techniques, and presenting the finds and recommendations of a penetration test.

Instructor: Christo Panchev, Daniel Goldsmith, and Antal Goldschmidt

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Video Lectures: NA

User Review: NA

Price: Price Available on Sign Up

6. Ethical Hacking: The Complete Malware Analysis Process – LinkedIn Learning

Ethical Hacking- The Complete Malware Analysis Process – LinkedIn Learning

The course is offered on the LinkedIn learning platform. The course covers a wide range of topics concerning the malware analysis process. The learners can understand the attacks and how to defend against them, and various types of malware used to exploit a target system.

Also, the malicious programs such as viruses and worms that can propagate into the system through media or networks are covered in-depth.

The learners will have a clear idea about Trojans and backdoors and where the malware resides. Finally, the learners will understand how to reverse engineer malware to understand its operation and how they create malware using different malware construction kits. Besides, the learners can gain mastery of the malware analysis tools for a cybersecurity framework. The course modules include:

Introduction

Introduction to Malware

  • Types of Malware
  • The Evolution
  • How Malware Works?
  • How Malware Achieves Persistence?
  • Digging into Rootkits
  • Automatic Malware with Botnets
  • Virus Construction Kits
  • Contemporary Malware
  • The MITRE ATT&CK Repository

Malware Detection

  • Indicators of Compromise
  • Checking of Anomalous Behavior
  • Sandboxing Malware

Advanced Techniques

  • Hiding Malware
  • Malware that Changes its Spots
  • Polymorphic Malware
  • Using Cryptography in Malware
  • Understanding Advanced Persistent Threats
  • Analyzing Win32.Sodin
  • Analyzing Black and Grey Energy

Reverse Engineering Malware

  • Using Reverse Engineering to Understand Code
  • Considering Malware in Families
  • Automated Malware Analysis
  • Analyzing Packers
  • Disassembly with Ghidra
  • Conclusion

Instructor: Malcom Shore

Level: Intermediate

Video Lectures: 29 Video Lectures

User Review: NA

Price: 1-Month Free Trial ($22 Approximately after the trial period ends)

7. Penetration Testing- Discovering Vulnerabilities by NYU – edX

Penetration Testing- Discovering Vulnerabilities by NYU – edX

NYU offers the course on the edX platform. The course covers the fundamentals of penetrating testing and an introduction to penetration testing methodologies. Also, the learners will grasp the concepts of recognizance and enumeration testing for vulnerabilities and scanning. The learning outcomes of the course include:

  • Scope a penetration test
  • Collect information about a possible target
  • Identify potential target systems
  • Identify possible entry points into a tested system
  • Configure vulnerability scanners to identify weaknesses
  • Analyze the results of vulnerability scans
  • The course curriculum includes the following:
  • Week 1 – Introduction to Penetration Testing Methodologies
  • Week 2 – Reconnaissance and Enumeration for Pen Testers
  • Week 3 – Scanning
  • Week 4 – Vulnerability Enumeration
  • Week 5 – Final Exam

Instructor: Aspen Olmsted

Level: Intermediate

Video Lectures: NA

User Review: NA

Price: Free Enrollment (Additional $165 for certification)

8. Ethical Hacking: Vulnerability Analysis – LinkedIn Learning

Ethical Hacking- Vulnerability Analysis – LinkedIn Learning,jpg

The course is offered on the LinkedIn learning platform. The course deep dives into the topic of vulnerability scanning, how to find and address the weakness of the systems that malicious attackers might target. Furthermore, the learners will gain insights into managing the organizational risk, vulnerability analysis methodologies, vulnerability assessment tools, and understand the strategies for defending LAN. The course modules are:

  • Introduction
  • Managing Risk
  • What do you need to know?
  • Hacking Ethically: Disclaimer
  • Managing Organizational Risk
  • Risk Threats and Vulnerabilities
  • Common Causes of Vulnerabilities
  • Assessing Vulnerabilities
  • Vulnerability Management Life Cycle
  • Vulnerability Analysis
  • Common Vulnerability Scoring
  • Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures
  • Outsourcing Vulnerability Analysis
  • Bug Bounty White Hat Hacking
  • Vulnerability Assessment Tools
  • Kali Linux VM
  • Assessment Tools
  • Nikto Demo
  • Securing Mobile Devices
  • Fuzz Testing
  • Defend LAN
  • LAN Vulnerability Scanners
  • Updates and Patches
  • Firewalls and HIDS
  • Vulnerability Assessment Reports
  • Conclusion

Instructor: Lisa Bock

Level: Intermediate

Video Lectures: 21 Video Lectures

User Review: NA

Price: 1-Month Free Trial ($15 Approximately after the trial period ends)

Conclusion

The adoption of technologies in the personal space and businesses has risen at an outrageous pace. Today, every enterprise is heavily relying on technologies to gain business value. On the personal front, people rely on technology for social interactions, professional work, and even banking transactions.

While there is a continuous effort to make technology more secure, the accessibility through malicious tasks and tweaking of programs has given attackers the means for easy money.

As the technologies continue to be an integral part of our daily lives, the malicious attackers have become smarter and are well-equipped with the technical know-how and the alteration of various programs to gain unauthorized access.

In recent years, cyber threats have become innovative and complicated, thereby needing professionals to use state-of-the-art technologies to overcome such attacks and ensure a secured network and system.

Several government organizations, ordinary people, and even large enterprises have been continuously targeted, which causes a massive loss in terms of the data breach.

With the increasing number of cases, the industries dealing with the public’s sensitive information, such as the healthcare and finance sectors, are highly targeted by malicious attackers.

As the cyber threats are becoming menacing, there is a need for experts that can think alike with a hacker mindset to tackle such complicated cyber threats and malicious programs that resides deep inside a system. The demand for ethical hackers is on the rise in the job market, which has the experience and tools to swiftly understand the hacking environment and suggest appropriate countermeasures for such cyber threats.

As per Salary.com, the average ethical hacker in the United States is offered an average salary of $100,476. Typically, the salary varies between $89,629 and $114,621 depending on various factors such as education, certification, industry recognition, and hands-on experience to be successful in such an environment.

Additionally, ethical hackers are expected to have in-depth knowledge about the theoretical aspects to build secured networks and systems. Thus, the need for upskilling is required for people looking for a career in ethical hacking.

One must opt for a well-balanced course covering the in-depth theoretical concepts, provide sufficient exposure to the tools, and build practical experience to be successful as an ethical hacker.

As the online platform is expanding, there are numerous courses, but the downside is that all the courses do not meet the expectations and industry standards.

While some courses do not provide the exact content as advertised, some do not provide the appropriate theoretical knowledge or hands-on experience. It is also vital to opt for a course that offers an industry-recognized certificate that can be a valuable addition alongside the skills of a professional. Therefore, the article focused on highlighting some of the top courses for ethical hacking that can help experienced professionals looking to level up and aspirants that can benefit tremendously from these courses.  

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Kaushik Das

Kaushik is an artificial intelligence researcher and a data scientist with expertise in medical image processing, intelligent automation, computer vision, and big data engineering—a technical and a scientific writer by passion. He is also passionate about sports, photography, traveling, and exploring new technologies.

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