Demand for IT security professionals is expected to rise to 6 million globally by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million*

In his address to the nation during the inauguration of ‘Digital India Week’ Our Honorable Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, stressed the threat to Cyber security globally and urged the nation to play a leading role in dealing with it.
With the recent attacks and leaks of user information of the apps and websites like Ola, Zomato and Gaana.com, it has come to light that companies and startups operating in India are vulnerable and need stronger security safety measures.
The root cause is the severe talent crunch in the number of skilled and trained professionals in the field. Ideally, a firm must have a dedicated team of ‘white hat’ hackers working to continuously test and improve the organization’s network.
Dedicated must be emphasized because have been incidents where hired consultants have gone rogue and elope with money bags due to sheer amount of money involved. This leaves no other option for the firms but to look into developing and training such professionals and encouraging it as a mainstream line of profession.
The age of inventing followed by networking is in the past. The current age is of protection and security. However, it must be understood that Cyber Security is a process and not a product. There is no website that is hack proof. Given enough time and effort anything and anyone can be hacked. Ethical hackers work with government and private firms to test their networks for vulnerabilities, loopholes and bugs to prevent an actual criminal from encroaching upon the network.

So how does one become an Ethical Hacker?

To begin with, it is a must to be well versed with writing programs in various programming languages like C++, C#, Perl, Ruby and Python. Familiarity with web applications like .NET and PHP is also essential. Furthermore, knowledge of assembly language is also a plus. One must also be knowledgeable about the different operating systems as well. Apart from this one should also have a basic understanding of TCP/IP protocols such as HTTP, SMTP and ICMP. On the hardware side, one must be familiar with network devices such as switches, routers, firewalls as well. Besides the technical side, a hacker needs to have good soft skills as well.
It is recommended that one undergo a brief certification course to cover all the important aspects of Ethical Hacking from code analyzing to know cyber laws. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and EC-Council Certified Secure Programmer (ECSP), Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) are some of the courses that students can pursue. There are plenty of options available to choose from. However, one must research the quality and return expected before investing his time and money into it.

Why should one opt to be a hacker?

There has never been a better time enter into the Cyber Security field since the current demand is booming and is expected to surge as more startups and business go online. According to the recent data, India needs 4.7 lakh cyber security professionals by 2015* for protection of IT infrastructure in the country as well as to serve the export market. The industry of Ethical hacking is growing at a tremendous pace and offers a plethora of lucrative job opportunities due to the burgeoning demand of such professionals.

What are the career prospects?

Internet security and Networking are the two fastest-growing industries where ethical hackers can find employment. Ethical hackers are hired to find out any vulnerability that might exist in their network and to find out how to fix them. They can join the government as well as private organisations as cyber security experts. IT firms are the main recruiters of ethical hackers.
However, it is not limited only to IT companies but such experts are also required by financial service providers, airlines, retail chains, hotels and several government agencies. Government agencies such as military and law enforcement agencies, defence organisations, forensic laboratories, detective companies, investigative services offers challenging roles for ethical hackers. Some skilled hackers work for investigation agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Information. Some large organisations employ security testers and others use contractors to audit their systems.
Graduates can set up their own companies offering ethical hacking services. Companies such as Wipro, Infosys, IBM, TCS, Tech Mahindra, HCL, Airtel, Reliance and many more are also looking for good ethical hackers. The designations one can be employed as are those of Network Security Systems Manager, Network Security Administrator, Systems/Applications, Security Executive, Web Security Administrator, Web Security Manager etc.

What sort of salary can one expect?

A fresher may work as an intern for a couple of months and can start with a minimum of Rs. 2.5 lakh per annum. With one year of experience, one can expect up to Rs. 4.5 lakh per annum. Those with work experience five years or more can rake in anything between 10-12 lakh per annum.
Sources: NASSCOM*