Cybersecurity engineers are permitted to test the system’s defenses in this manner by the firm that controls the system or network. In contrast to malevolent hacking, this procedure is planned, authorized, and, most crucially, lawful.

Yes, VPN’s is utilized by ethical hackers for keeping their IP addresses hidden. Furthermore, it is also used by black hat hackers to hack people without letting their IP addresses be compromised.

This article will elaborate on and explain how ethical hackers use VPNs. Furthermore, the use of VPNs by unethical hackers and their possible advantages and disadvantages will also be discussed in detail.

What Is The Definition Of Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is the permitted practice of identifying flaws in a program, system, or organization’s infrastructure and circumventing system security in order to uncover possible data breaches and network threats. 

Ethical hackers seek to identify weak places in a system or network that malevolent hackers may exploit and destroy. They can increase the security perimeter to better resist or deter assaults.

Ethical hackers seek to identify weak places in a system or network that malevolent hackers may exploit and destroy. They gather and evaluate the data to determine how to enhance the system/network/applications’ security. 

By doing so, they can increase the security footprint’s ability to withstand or deter assaults. Organizations engage ethical hackers to assess the weaknesses of their networks and systems or implement preventative measures against data breaches. 

Consider it a technological variation of the proverb “It takes a robber to catch a thief.”

What Are The Functions Of Such An Ethical Hacker?

Ethical hackers must adhere to specific criteria in order to engage in lawful hacking. A competent hacker is aware of his or her responsibilities and follows all ethical norms. The following are the most essential Ethical Hacking rules:

  • An ethical hacker should obtain permission from the system owner’s organization. Before undertaking any system or network security evaluation, hackers should have full authorization.
  • Determine the extent of their evaluation and inform the organization of their strategy. This is called the scope.
  • Report any security vulnerabilities and breaches discovered in the network or system.
  • Maintain their discoveries’ secrecy. Since their goal is to safeguard the system or network, cybersecurity professionals must sign and adhere to their non-disclosure agreement.
  • After determining a system’s vulnerability, erase all evidence of the hack. It stops malevolent hackers from exploiting the system’s recognized vulnerabilities. This is crucial as the techniques and tools that ehtical hackers use are the same ones that criminals use.

Competencies Needed To Be An Ethical Hacker

For efficient hacking, an ethical hacker must have an in-depth understanding of all systems, networks, program codes, security procedures, etc. Among these abilities are:

  • Programming expertise is necessary for security staff who work in software security.
  • Knowledge of scripting is necessary for professionals who deal with network-based and host-based threats.
  • Networking expertise – This is a vital skill because most threats come from networks. You should be aware of all network devices, their connectivity, and how to determine whether they have been breached or how to breach their defenses.
  • Understanding databases – The majority of attacks target databases. Knowledge of management systems for databases like SQL will enable you to efficiently inspect database processes and exploit the query language.
  • Multiple platform expertise, including Windows, Ubuntu, Unix, etc.
  • The capacity to utilize many market-available and open-source hacking hardware and software tools.
  • A strong familiarity with browsers, web applications, and servers.

The fact that malicious actors frequently route their communications through the legendary “seven proxies” is a big obstacle to fighting against attackers and conducting correct attribution. 

Frequently, defenders spend countless hours finding the source of bad traffic, only to discover that the perpetrator has hacked the web service of an unconnected victim on the Network and also is routing all of their traffic through this foothold. 

The elimination of the attack source might provide logistical and legal obstacles. If the IP address getting routed through is banned by the defending firewalls, an attacker may frequently switch to a different compromised server fast, evading attempts to block the attacker’s IP address.

Whenever an ethical hacker as well as a penetrating tester is engaged to replicate such assaults and give remedial recommendations to a company, it is imperative that they have access to tools comparable to those used by actual threat actors. 

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In order to test network defenses and evaluate security posture, they must be able to route their information from practically anywhere in the globe and modify the IP address on just the fly. This helps them emulate an attacker’s movements as in a real attack, a malicious hacker will use VPN’s, proxies, and other anonymity techniques.

In addition, they must be able to perform simulated attacks without alerting their actual Internet service provider, which could identify the traffic as malicious and terminate their connection.

These issues may be resolved by employing a mature, contemporary VPN service. As exploit test traffic leaves the penetration tester’s network, it is tunneled over a VPN so that the ISP is not alerted. 

During such encounters, if this is a team exercise, the Blue Team, or defensive team, may determine it is necessary to block the IP address from whence the assault originated by the attacker team or Red Team. Now on a side note, it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between a red teamer and a penetration tester.

The penetration tester has been hired by a client to perform a security asssessment on their assets in exchange for money. This is an ethical hacking scenario. With a red team engagement, it is an organized team event in which there are defending and attacking teams. A pre-built scenario has been developed with certain objectives. This is a skill based scenario as opposed to penetration testing, which is a business/client based scenario.

The Red Team, or a team of ethical hackers, may then use the VPN product’s ability to alter its IP address as necessary. In the end, this enables a more accurate penetration test and a more relevant report on how to fix vulnerabilities and enhance defenses. 

Faced with this form of simulation, the Blue Team will be challenged to go beyond typical IP address-blocking strategies. 

They may find themselves switching to techniques that operate at a greater network level or just attentively watching the attack’s originating IP address to discover more about its nature.

How Do Ethical Hackers Operate?

Ethical hackers include cybersecurity professionals that evaluate the security of their client’s systems by infiltrating them and discovering weaknesses. This method is also known as penetration testing. 

While unethical and black-hat hackers exploit networks for harmful purposes including financial gain, violence, or even other disturbances, ethical hackers employ the same techniques to assist their targets (clients) in remaining secure.

Black hats and white hats frequently employ the same techniques, hence there are several instances of back-hat to white-hat conversion. Occasionally, the sufferers of black hats recruit them as their cybersecurity specialists in the future.

Similar to black hats, cybersecurity professionals follow a sequence of processes to complete their tasks. These are given as:

1. Reconnaissance

In this step, the hacker collects information on the victim. Active or passive reconnaissance can be conducted. Active is when a hacker connects directly with the target to collect information, whereas passive is when he or she does it covertly or indirectly through web searches or social media. Collecting publicly available information on a target is called open source intelligence or OSINT.

2. Enumeration

The hacker utilizes the data acquired during the discovery process and selects the hacking tools. This phase consists of gathering information about the target’s vulnerable services, software, frameworks, and hardware. This phase is very very involved and a lot of ethical hackers rush through this.

Some other things that enumeration will yield are:

  • Services running on ports
  • Open, filtered, or closed ports
  • Software and operating system versions
  • Certficiate issuers
  • SSH and RSA keys
  • DNS entries
  • FTP usernames

3. Gaining Entry

This is the stage in which the entry into the system occurs. Here, the hacker uses their tools and collected information to gain access to the system, get the necessary rights, and seize control of it.

4. Maintaining Access

This is also called persistence. An ethical ahcker will want to test the system to see if they can remain there indefintely. This can pose huge benefits to an attacker such as providing a bot to use in a botnet for attacks or cryptomining, ability to “check-in” and see if any new logs or databases have been generated or assigned to the device, or to grab key logged information (via spyware).

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After infiltrating a system, hackers attempt to preserve access for future assaults and prevent their targets from detecting their presence. In addition, they deploy other tools (such as trojans and other malware) to launch even more attacks.

5. Covering Actions

In this last step, hackers attempt to conceal their actions so that security workers and law enforcement do not discover the assault.

Selecting A VPN Solution

When selecting a VPN solution, penetration testers must also examine if they may need to tunnel C2 (command-and-control) traffic via the VPN. If a penetration tester’s C2 is discovered by defenders, this one is referred to as burning your C2.

If a VPN solution supports port forwarding, this capability may be utilized rather efficiently to set up a Payload that is listening across the VPN for computers infected by a payload given by the legitimate user.

This implies that their C2’s genuine IP address may stay concealed, while if their VPN-based IP address gets prohibited, they can switch to another one. 

If the VPN solution permits the user to select a VPN node in a certain geographic location, the penetration tester can also benefit. If they select a VPN node that is geographically close to the destination, they could be able to lower latency and improve performance. 

Or, in other instances, the penetration tester might wish to determine whether they can purposefully alert defenders by routing communications through an unanticipated geographic location or nation. 

This sort of exercise may occur late in a program, whenever the Red Team already has achieved full compromise while remaining undetected. In order to evaluate detection capabilities, they may opt to make their attack as loud as feasible. 

If they can accomplish full penetration a second or third time against that target business that solely serves Atlanta-based consumers, for example, while routing the assault through Istanbul, the defense team may have a lot of work ahead of it.

In addition, an ethical hacker must buy a VPN that is suitable for the operating system that would use to conduct assaults. It is crucial that the VPN service supports OpenVPN, as it may come pre-installed with Kali Linux.

Even though the VPN solution is compatible with both Linux and Windows, it is essential to resolve any complications using penetration test operating systems such as Kali Linux. 

If you are a penetration tester searching for methods to replicate covert assaults, employing a VPN solution in this manner might be of substantial use. 

If you are a defender, talk with your vulnerability scanning provider if they offer comprehensive attack simulations that obscure the origin IP address, and be careful to select a firm whose methodology can be adapted to your needs. 

The more real a penetration testing effort is, the more valuable information it will yield. The computer world is rife with surprises that are always being added. Consequently, more users are drawn to it. 

The most fascinating issues in this sector are those pertaining to hackers, who are highly appealing to a variety of audiences, and about whom consumers are eager to learn more and more.

As you already know, hackers are really current. Suppose you wish to remain competitive in the computer and Internet-based environment. 

In this situation, you should constantly pay close attention to new items released about such individuals, since customers are typically interested in learning more about the software and technologies utilized by these really competent computer professionals.

What Do Hackers Consider While Selecting A VPN?

Among the most essential considerations for hackers is that the data they access via VPN cannot be monitored by its creators.

They are unable to obtain this information, thus hackers may utilize them with ease and have complete control of the situation.  

Another scenario seems to be the Kill-switch option, which implies that various people cannot determine the hacker’s identity; since, as you are aware, these individuals do not wish for their work to be made public.

As you are aware, there are several versions of these tools, a few of which are freeware. Some are paid, and the paid versions get more features than free ones, so these are what these individuals seek. 

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However, the most essential aspect is the ability to pay for services using Bitcoin and other hidden cryptocurrencies. 

Another thing they evaluate is that they have a strong data encryption level since Internet service providers will not be able to observe what online activities offenders are engaging in.

What VPN Do Hackers Employ?

Hackers also consider the DNS-Leak protection element, which prevents their IP and DNS from being disclosed to their internet service provider. The following are VPNs utilized by hackers:

1. Nord VPN

One of the most famous VPNs among cybercriminals is Nord VPN, which offers numerous features like as the Kill Switch, Onion Via VPN, Double encryption keys, and many more, each of which has contributed to a growth in the number of downloads of this VPN.

As you are aware, there are several sorts of hackers that may utilize this item, therefore it can be employed both on the side of the law and against the law.

This instance has various advantages and disadvantages that we have discussed to some degree, but the most significant disadvantage is that it is pricey, which may pose an issue for novice hackers.

2. Express VPN

Express VPN boasts some of the most significant parts and ranks among the most renowned VPN services. We might note the importance of ultrafast servers, Broadband speeds, and limitless bandwidth.

Other elements of this instance include the ability to connect up to five devices, which is also crucial so that a hacker may join between the first and five gadgets to a robust VPN and exploit its security. 

It is interoperable with the most popular operating systems, such as Windows, iOS, Mac, Android, and Linux. It is also compatible with open-source routers and other devices.

3. CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN likewise has a great deal of popularity among hackers.  Suppose you wish to determine the cause of its popularity. 

In that case, we should say that it has numerous positive features, the most notable of which do an Automatic kill toggle, DNS leak safeguards, Bitcoin payment assistance for complete anonymity, etc. 

This VPN can offer this option for them, as it is capable of not capturing its users’ actions on documents, and it doesn’t store them. As with the preceding cases, this one has problems in addition to its positives, including a lack of customization choices. 

One of the great aspects that attract numerous enthusiasts is that it does not keep any information about a user of Private Internet Access VPN, which is extremely significant and ensures that hackers’ identities will never be disclosed.

A further reason for its appeal is the ability to buy with Bitcoin, which is available not only to hackers but also to regular users and can be done simply. However, as with previous cases, there isn’t a DNS Leak Protection function, which, as you are aware, is essential for hackers.

4. PureVPN

The ability to use high-speed Internet is one of the most significant factors for all users; Pure VPN can enable hackers to connect to high-speed, high-bandwidth Internet and have a nice Internet experience. This disadvantage is that it overly pricey, which might be problematic for rookie hackers.

5. AirVPN

One of the characteristics of AirVPN is how it protects the identities of its users and prevents untrustworthy sources from simply disclosing the identities of its users.

It has a similar purpose as the Kill Switch, which, as you are aware, is vital. Among the bad aspects of this instance, just a handful of computers can be mentioned, which is also crucial.

Conclusion

It can be conclusively said that ethical hackers in specific and hackers in general utilize VPN services. They use different types of VPNs available depending on their features and benefits. This is not a VPN review article and some of the above VPN’s are not reccomended for consumer use for several reasons. To learn more about VPN’s check out the “How do I choose a VPN?” article!