Difference between Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking

Difference between Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking

5 mins read12.4K Views 4 Comments
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on May 6, 2024 15:05 IST

Many organizations today rely on cybersecurity and ethical hacking to protect themselves from falling victim to cyber-attacks. Both cybersecurity and ethical hacking serve similar purposes of improving a company’s security but they differ in a lot of ways. While cyber security is a broader domain, ethical hacking is a part of cybersecurity. It is important for any organization that is investing in a security framework to understand each of these terms. In this blog, we will understand the difference between cyber security and ethical hacking.


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Before we explore the difference between cybersecurity and ethical hacking, let us understand the terms cyber security and ethical hacking.

Definition of Cybersecurity

Cyber security is the practice to defend internet-connected systems, such as hardware, software, programs, and data from damage, malicious attacks, or unauthorized access. It helps prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to data, systems, or networks. Cyber security is a broad subject that includes many security mechanisms, such as data security, ethical hacking, and digital forensics.

Cyber security can be categorized into the following:

  • Application Security
  • Cloud Security
  • Data Security
  • Endpoint Security
  • Information Security
  • Identity Management
  • Mobile Security
  • Network Security

With cyber threats continuing to evolve globally, every organization especially those involved in safeguarding sensitive data needs to take appropriate steps to protect their sensitive information.

To know more about cybersecurity, read our blog – What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity Professional Job Role

Cyber security experts need to have a combination of different cyber security skills and tools to provide a secure environment to the users against any attacks on their data, devices, or programs. They must have a strong understanding of various cybersecurity concepts, tools, and techniques to be able to face challenges such as malware, ransomware, and zero-day exploits.

A cyber security professional is responsible for carrying out many activities. Here are some of the common roles and responsibilities of a cyber security expert:

  • Determining the best ways to protect data, systems, and networks from potential attacks
  • Implementing the most efficient technologies to improve the security system
  • Security assessments & vulnerability tests
  • Guiding and supervising security teams
  • Keeping the security system updated

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Definition of Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacking is a subset of cybersecurity. It refers to the process of testing the system against potential security breaches or data threats and repairing the flaws before any cyber attack happens. Ethical hacking involves finding vulnerabilities and weak points that cybercriminals can exploit.

Ethical hackers are also known as white-hat hackers. White hat hackers work similar to black-hat hackers but with a different intent. White hat hackers use their skills to find the loopholes of the given system with permission from the server/system admin. They do not want to harm anyone with their acts rather they safeguard the systems.

To know more about ethical hacking, read our blog – What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical Hacker Job Role

Ethical hackers hack into the system with the owner’s authorization. After identifying vulnerabilities on bypassing system security, they deliver a report on how they hacked the system. The common roles and responsibilities of ethical hackers include:

  • Testing the security system
  • Evaluating the system’s performance
  • Finding weak points in the security system using appropriate hacking techniques
  • Providing suggestions to enhance the security system
  • Notifying the organization about any malicious attack
  • Generating reports after finding vulnerabilities

Check out the best Ethical Hacking Courses

Difference between Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacking can be viewed as a subset of cybersecurity. Ultimately both focus on data protection. Both cybersecurity professionals and ethical hackers must be aware of the scope and the shared mission to secure their companies. Below table highlights the key differences between cybersecurity and ethical hacking:

Cyber Security Ethical Hacking
Cybersecurity is a broad domain that includes a range of security techniques. Ethical hacking is a subpart of cybersecurity.
It involves safeguarding the system and data from malicious activities by identifying and resolving security issues. It involves finding vulnerabilities and reporting them to the system’s owner.
The focus is on how to protect the system. It is focused on how to attack the system.
Cybersecurity experts protect the system by regularly updating it and implementing all potential safeguards. Ethical hackers hack into the system to find the flaws in the system and keep it safe.
It is a defensive task. Ethical hacking is an offensive strategy.
Regular maintenance is performed to ensure that the security system is up to date. Testing is performed regularly to identify flaws and resolve them.
Popular cybersecurity job roles include security analyst and SOC engineer. Popular ethical hacking job roles include penetration tester and security manager.

Also Read: How to Get Free Cyber Security Courses Online?

Final Thought

This brings us to the end of our blog on the difference between cyber security and ethical hacking. In this blog, we learned that while ethical hacking revolves around identifying vulnerabilities that are open for exploitation well before hackers find them, cyber Security focuses on mitigating risks by using various security controls.

Due to the increasing online data threats and attacks, the cybersecurity and ethical hacking fields are becoming more significant than ever. The demand for cyber security professionals and ethical hackers is increasing rapidly. Enroll in an online course today to keep well-versed on important cybersecurity topics and the latest industry trends.

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Why should I pursue a career in cyber security or ethical hacking?

Due to the increasing cyberattacks and misuse of data, there is a high demand for cyber security experts and ethical hackers. There is a shortage of skilled professionals who can help organizations safeguard their systems, networks, data from malicious attacks. Thus, there is a huge scope in this field if you have the relevant skillset.

What are the skills required to become an ethical hacker?

The skills required to become an ethical hacker include knowledge of the systems, networks, and security measures; knowledge of programming; understanding of databases; networking skills; working knowledge of operating systems such as Windows and Linux; and knowledge of hacking tools and techniques.

Are cyber security and information security the same?

Cybersecurity and information security are often confused with each other. But there is a difference between the two. Cyber security focuses on protecting computer systems from damage, malicious attacks, or unauthorized access. On the other hand, information security is a broader domain that focuses on protecting all information assets, including hard copies and digital forms.

What are the different types of cybersecurity threats?

Some common types of cybersecurity threats include Malware; Phishing; Denial-of-Service (DOS) attacks; SQL Injections; Zero-day exploits; and Man-in-the-middle attacks.

About the Author
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio



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