In today’s highly digital and connected world, guarding against cyber attacks is increasingly crucial. One way to do this is to let ethical hackers show off their skills at live hacking events. Here’s a closer look at how these efforts work.
So what is live hacking? How it works?
What is ethical hacking?
Ethical hacking, or white hat hacking, occurs when cybersecurity officials gain permission to try to break into an online infrastructure or connected device, and then search for vulnerabilities to exploit.
The participating parties operate under the direction of their clients and they compile data for later inclusion in a scorecard. It breaks down client performance and recommends what to do to prevent malicious attacks.
What is live hacking?
Live hacking events require participants to discover vulnerabilities and take specific actions that help them earn points, usually by working as a team. These gatherings take place in person or online, and they require people to work quickly and under pressure to uncover problems with a system.
Policymakers from many of the world’s top tech brands often view these competitions as essential to preserving their reputation and results. Indeed, these ethical hacker gatherings can expose serious cybersecurity issues before apps, websites and connected products are released on a large scale.
For example, in 2019, Ericsson gave more than 80 ethical hackers from 10 countries a day to find security issues with its new 5G equipment. Participants looked for problems with products already on the market and items not yet released. They received cash prizes based on their results.
How do live hacking games work?
People who study learning often conclude that gamification is a great way to increase engagement. For example, the popular language learning app Duolingo gives people points for completing learning modules and encourages them to earn at least a specific number per day.
However, gamification also applies to live hack gatherings or other types of events. Take, for example, if a person earned points for networking with other cybersecurity enthusiasts; this approach reduces the discomfort when meeting new people, especially if the event takes place in a virtual setting.
Other opportunities to earn points could include registering for the hacking competition and showing up on the day of the event. That’s all before the main action begins.
Dr Alexandros Kapravelos is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at NC State and an academic advisor to HackPack, the college’s student hacking and cybersecurity club. He explained how his organization applies gamification to hacking competitions:
“[We host] security competitions which have been designed to roughly gamify hacking and provide a series of different security challenges where students are basically to create new attacks on systems, hack them, gain information and earn points in the game .
What are the advantages of live hacking?
Cyber security suffers from a skills shortage. A 2021 study found that 95% of responding organizations said the problem had not improved over the past few years.
Then 44% thought the problem had worsened. Additionally, 62% of those surveyed said the shortage resulted in a heavier workload for cybersecurity team members, and 38% said this resulted in unfilled positions.
Live hacking events alone are not the solution to the skills crisis. However, they could be essential in getting people interested in cybersecurity and giving them fun ways to hone their skills and gain the attention of potential employers.
In one instance, Trend Micro and Tesla co-sponsored a hacking event in which attendees competed for price points as they attempted to break into the connected systems of a Tesla Model 3. More hacks complexes have won people bigger prizes in cash and even cars.
Ethical hacking is also a career development hobby that prepares cybersecurity enthusiasts for the job market.
And this has similar benefits for businesses that may not have large in-house cybersecurity teams. For example, Bug Crowd hosts its Bug Bash live hack events that would generate 80-100 vulnerability reports per day, three-quarters of which are valid issues.
Live hacking is mutually beneficial
People who are unfamiliar with the definition of live hacking may think it sounds like something scary. However, it helps ethical hackers continually improve their skills while providing businesses with relevant resources to curb future cyberattacks.
Whether you are passionate about cybersecurity or work for a company where executives want to improve the organization’s cyber resilience, live hacking can help.
To learn ethical hacking you have to hack like a criminal but be smart about it. Start with those websites that you can legally hack.
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