Updated June 5, 2023
Introduction to Process of Hacking
Ethical hacking has several different phases. It allows hackers to make an organized hacking attack. Various security training manuals describe ethical hacking in several ways, but the process can be grouped into the following six stages. To sum it all up, this approach is used by an attacker to break the network, while the ethical hacker uses it to protect it.
Ethical Hacking Process
The ethical hacking process is given as follows:
Reconnaissance also called the preparatory phase, is when the attacker obtains information about a target. NMAP, Maltego, Google Dorks, Hping, etc., are the tools that are commonly used in this process.
There are two types of reconnaissance
- Active reconnaissance: To interact with the target to collect information about the target. For example, using the Nmap tool to scan the target
- Passive reconnaissance: Gathering data about the target without accessing the target directly. This includes collecting social media data, public websites, etc.
Dumpster diving is one of the first steps of reconnaissance. The hacker finds useful information during this stage, like, names of important employees and old passwords, and performs active monitoring to know how the organization operates. The hacker completes a process called footprinting to gather security posture data as a next step, decreases the focus area, including identifying unique IP addresses, detects vulnerabilities within the intended system, and ultimately draws a network map to know exactly how the network infrastructure operates to break into it easily. Footprinting gives important information like domain names, TCP and UDP services, device names, and passwords. There are other ways to do footprinting as well. It involves imitating a website by mirroring it using search engines to collect organizational information and current employee information for imitations.
The attacker starts actively testing a target computer or network in this process for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Nessus, NMAP, and Nexposeare the tools used in this process.
There are three types of scanning involved in this process.
- Port Scanning: It includes scanning the target for data such as open ports, services running on the host, live networks, etc.
- Vulnerability Scanning: To check the target for exploitable bugs or vulnerabilities. It involves the use of automated software.
- Network mapping: Find the network topology, firewall servers, routers, and host information and draw a network diagram with the information available.
3. Gaining Access
The vulnerability is found in this step, and the hacker tries to exploit it to get into the system. Metasploit is the main tool used in this process. To track the devices connected to the system, the hacker gains access to the network, device, and software and expands their user privileges.
4. Maintaining Access
This is the process in which the hacker has already accessed a computer. The hacker activates some backdoors after obtaining access to penetrate the device when he wants to access the future of this proprietary system. The preferred method in this phase is Metasploit.
5. Clearing Tracks
An unethical operation conducts this phase. No robber wants to get caught. An excellent hacker always removes all traces so that no one will find any evidence leading to him at a later stage in time. This includes corrupting, modifying, or deleting log values, Removing the cookies and cache, uninstalling all of the applications that he used, closing all the open ports, modifying the registry values, modifying the log files, and deleting all of the folders that he made. This can be done with the help of various ways, which are given as follows
- Reverse HTTP Shells
- ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) Tunnels
- Shredding or clearing Command History
- Build an agile framework for lateral movement
- To stop responders or analysts from keeping up with what is happening, speed up the pace
- Creating a VPN for C2 communication will make it easier to bypass any level of network monitoring
- We should not have too high several infected hosts and continuously update them.
- Busy servers provide the ideal cover for internal hop-points
- For data staging areas, busy file servers
In a nutshell, it removes logs of all the activities occurring during the hacking process.
The last step in completing the ethical hacking process is reporting. An Ethical Hacker gathers a report with their results and the work they have performed in this process, including the instruments used, the rate of performance, vulnerabilities identified, and the processes of exploitation.
This is a guide to Process of Hacking. Here we discuss the introduction and ethical hacking process along with an explanation. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –