- Use computer hacking techniques to help identify and resolve vulnerabilities in computer networks
- This is a growing field with excellent future prospects
- Opportunities to specialise in a particular area and develop in-demand skills
Ethical hackers use the same techniques malicious hackers use to penetrate computer networks, but for a positive purpose. Ethical hackers are sometimes called 'white hat hackers' (i.e. the good guys) as opposed to the 'black hat hackers' who attack networks with disruptive or criminal intent.
Companies and government organisations who want to test the security of their networks use ethical hackers to try to break into their networks and help them find possible bugs or entry points that can then be fixed to make them more secure.
- Assessing network security by attempting to 'break' the system
- Recording your results and working on solutions to any problems or vulnerabilities you discover
As an information security expert, you could work for a single company, an agency providing information security services or as a freelancer.
You'll need excellent IT and network skills, attention to detail and a strong sense of responsibility.
Good subject choices at school include IT, computing, maths and science subjects.
You might then choose to do a degree in a computer science field or gain on-the-job skills and experience by starting an apprenticeship.
Some ethical hackers are self-taught, but many will start out in information security more generally and then specialise in ethical hacking. There is a 'Certified Ethical Hacking' qualification that you could take once you have network and information security experience that will help you gain work in the field.
Testing computer networks to make sure they are un-hackable and safe is an increasingly important field, and cyber-security experts are in high demand.
Many people specialise in this area after starting out in other areas of IT and network development work.