Certified Ethical Hacker, or CEH, certification is one of the hottest picks for IT security professionals pursuing a career in penetration testing. However, it’s often overlooked as a viable certification option by most information security pros. Although the certification is a must-have for penetration testers, its benefits are not limited only to this small niche of professionals.
The CEH exam is a relatively new credential in the IT certification industry, but its importance and influence have grown quickly. Provided by EC-Council, the CEH exam was the first certification to bring the so-called dark side of IT into the limelight. Before the CEH exam, there was no certification that taught the methods and tools that hackers use to penetrate computer systems. The CEH exam focuses on how hackers find and exploit vulnerabilities. The course includes everything from the tools of the trade to ethics.
What many security professionals do not yet realize is that the benefits of studying for and achieving this certification stretch beyond the field of penetration testing and into everyday network and application security. In addition to meeting the regulatory standards for employment for many top security positions, you can gain a wealth of knowledge that is otherwise not easy to obtain. Besides your unique, new title, you’ll also get the following benefits, if you decide to get your CEH certification:
Understanding risks and vulnerabilities
The C|EH course is made up of the following task and knowledge domains:
• System development and management
• System analysis and design
• Security testing
These domains are comprehensive and form a solid foundation for understanding how vulnerabilities affect organizations on a day-to-day basis.
Thinking like a hacker
The CEH course gives “white hat” IT professionals a glimpse into the mindset of a typical hacker. The focus of an IT professional is always on keeping bad guys out and maintaining secure systems. Over time, many IT pros develop a reactionary mindset. Battling with the bad guys will always involve reacting to threats and events as they occur, but it’s far more valuable and powerful to understand how the bad guys think and to be able to anticipate their moves. By learning the hacker mindset, you’ll be able to take a more proactive approach and see beyond current security tools and policies to know where and how an attacker might try to gain access to your network.
Learning how exploits evolve
Besides demonstrating the hacker mindset, the CEH course also provides valuable insight into the entire life cycle of an exploit. For many security professionals, the way exploits evolve to take advantage of vulnerabilities is a mystery. While security pros are trained to prevent and respond to known vulnerabilities, little attention is paid to the life cycle of the exploit itself, from its conception to its destructive use in the real world. The level of insight gained by becoming a CEH allows you to look at exploits and vulnerabilities objectively and to spot potential attack vectors and weaknesses before the hackers do.
Learning about the tools of the trade
Another overlooked benefit of the CEH certification is the amount of knowledge you can get regarding the tools of the hacker trade. While most IT pros have experience with at least some of the tools used by a CEH, they often lack the in-depth knowledge that’s required to use these tools for criminal purposes. Learning how malicious attackers use various tools allows you to better secure your networks, applications, and other assets.