Education Pathway to Become an Ethical Hacker in Malaysia
ABOUT 50% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Malaysia suffered a cyber incident in the last 12 months, according to a report titled Cybersecurity for SMBs: Asia Pacific Businesses Prepare for Digital Defence by Cisco Systems Inc.
The report revealed that 67% of Malaysian businesses also lost their customer information to the hands of malicious actors as a result of these accidents.
The report also highlighted that nearly four in 10 (39%) SMBs in Malaysia suffering a cyberattack noted that cybersecurity solutions not being adequate to detect or prevent the attack as the number one reason for these incidents.
Twenty-seven percent of them attributed not having cybersecurity solutions in place as the top factor.
According to Cisco, these incidents are having a tangible impact on business.
About 32% of Malaysian SMBs that suffered cyber incidents in the past 12 months said these cost the business US$500,000 (RM2.11 million) or more, with 6% saying that the cost was US$1 million or more.
Besides the loss of customer data, SMBs in Malaysia that suffered a cyber incident also lost internal emails (65%), employee data (59%), intellectual property (53%), sensitive business information (45%) and financial information (44%).
In 2019, around 13,000 cybercrime cases were reported, involving total losses of RM539 million. The number rose to 17,000 cases in 2020. In 2021, the number of cases increased to more than 20,000, with total losses of RM560 million.
Up to February of 2022, there were 3,273 cases reported involving losses of RM114 million.
With the rise in cyber attacks in Malaysia incurring huge losses to companies, demand will increase for Ethical Hackers.
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What is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking is the imitation of harmful attackers’ methods and actions. This method aids in the detection of security flaws that can be fixed before malicious hackers exploit them.
Ethical hacking, also known as penetration testing, is legally breaking into computers and devices to test an organization’s defenses. It’s among the most exciting computing jobs Malaysian students can be involved in. Ethical Hackers are paid to keep up with the latest technology and attempt to break into computers without the threat of being arrested. Companies engage ethical hackers to identify vulnerabilities in their systems.
The title ‘white-hat hacker’ refers to the good guys who assess the weaknesses of existing computer systems and ensure that sensitive information is protected from malicious intruders.
The purpose of ethical hacking is to improve the security of the network or systems by fixing the vulnerabilities found during testing. Ethical hackers may use the same methods and tools used by the malicious hackers but with the permission of the authorized person for the purpose of improving the security and defending the systems from attacks by malicious users.
Ethical hackers are expected to report all the vulnerabilities and weakness found during the process to the management.
What do Ethical Hackers do?
An ethical hacker is a professional who penetrates systems and networks using the same knowledge and tools as malicious hackers but without any malicious intent. Ethical hacking is vital because it allows businesses to identify potential threats in their system before they become an actual problem.
What Qualification do you need to Become an Ethical Hacker in Malaysia?
The first step to becoming an Ethical Hacker in Malaysia is to pursue a degree in Cybersecurity, Computer Science or Software Engineering.
Obtaining a degree can help a candidate stand out and demonstrate key qualities an employer is looking for, including discipline, critical thinking, good time management and determination.
In addition, those looking to become ethical hackers will need to have a strong knowledge of ethical hacking principles. They will also need to obtain the proper certifications, which are part of what is known as an ethical hacking security suite.
This includes being a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Advanced Penetration Testing Specialist, or EC-Council Licensed Security Analyst (ECSA).
- Cyber Security
- Computer science
- Software engineering
Certifications – ICT security certifications
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Information Security Certification (GIAC)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH))
- Advanced Penetration Testing Specialist
- EC-Council Licensed Security Analyst (ECSA
- Certified Digital Forensic for First Responder (CDFFR)
- Certified Information Security Management System: Internal Auditor (CISMS)
- Certified Penetration Tester (CPT)
- Certified Secure Application Professional (CSAP)
- Certified Information Security Awareness Manager (CISAM)
What is the Education Pathway to Become an Ethical Hacker?
Students after SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels interested in a career in Ethical Hacking can go for the 1-year Foundation in Computing or Information Technology (IT) programmes at top private universities in Malaysia. The Foundation in Information Technology (IT) programmes are cheaper and generally easier than the external Pre-University programmes.
Alternatively, with 3 credits in SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels including Maths, students may go for the 2-year Diploma in Information Technology (IT), Diploma in Computer Studies or Diploma in Software Engineering and then enter into Year 2 of the Cyber Security or Computer Science degree.
Pre-University students with the relevant results in STPM, A-Levels, SAM, CPU, AUSMAT, etc. can enter directly into Year 1 of the Cyber Security or Computer Science degree at the best university in Malaysia. Foundation in Science programmes from premier private universities in Malaysia are also accepted for entry.
What is the Required knowledge to Become an Ethical Hacker?
To become an Ethical Hacker, students will need to gain in-depth knowledge in the following areas:
- Web technologies – (AJAX, SOAP, XML etc)
- Operating systems (Linux, UNIX, Solaris, OS X, Windows etc)
- Network security, HTTP proxying tools (Burp, Charles, Fiddler, WebScarab etc)
- Web server and application software (IIS, Apache Tomcat, WebLogic, WebSphere etc)
- Application and vulnerability scanning tools (AppScan, ClickToSecure, Sentinel, WebInspect etc),
What Skills do Ethical Hackers Need?
Research skills are the most important soft skill. Threat actors are constantly evolving their techniques and targets to evade detection, monetize on attacks and cause the widest disruption possible. Therefore, ethical hackers will need to be as equally up to date to protect their clients or organizations.
Collaboration is also key; ethical hackers won’t be in it alone and they’ll likely be working with internal security professionals or colleagues to consult on how to improve systems and/or networks.
Soft skills can be just as important as your security and computer knowledge. Employers will likely be asking about your personal life here to get an idea if you are well suited to the role. So, make sure you can bring up some relevant real-life examples to demonstrate your soft skills.
What are the Roles and Responsibilities?
Ethical hackers use their extensive software knowledge to hack into their employers’ and clients’ computer systems the same way regular hackers do, in search of loopholes. They then implement security measures to prevent future unauthorised intrusions.
What It Takes
Many working hackers are self-taught so you do not necessarily need formal qualifications to land the job. However, due to the extensive knowledge required for the job, a university education and professional certifications will certainly be of great help in preparing you for a career in the field. Work experience in various areas of ICT is also highly advantageous.
Plenty of self-learning is required to stay abreast on all things software, network, virus and malware related. You will also need lots of patience, trustworthiness, professionalism, and excellent problem-solving and analytical skills.
Who Should Study Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hackers are data-focused, detail-oriented problem-solvers and critical thinkers. They aim to find and fix problems and loopholes in systems, networks and/or applications. Ethical hackers are responsible for outsmarting malicious hackers and protecting highly valuable information from potential attacks. They work well in teams, love solving puzzles, and have a keen curiosity about how things operate.
Where do Ethical Hackers Work?
As an ethical hacker, you will be working for big companies, government agencies, security firms or other organisations who will hire you to keep their information safe and secure. These clients will require you to legally hack into company networks to look at network security, find and fix potential dangers, and create solutions to patch serious security risks or fight off harmful attackers
Work opportunities are also available at commercial organisations, IT security companies, ICT consultancies, the government etc.