Learn Penetration Testing: The Best Courses and Resources

Penetration testing is the future of all businesses that go online. To safeguard themselves against any potential cyberattacks, businesses need security professionals to devise security strategies. This has made calls to learn penetration testing more important than ever. 

As more businesses shift to cloud, hackers have been crafting more ways to bug systems, applications, and networks. To combat them, companies have started protecting their data and systems by employing expert penetration testers. If you want to become one of them, here’s a guide to get you started on your journey within this cyber security engineering field. 

What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is the practice of testing a computer system, web application, or network for security vulnerabilities. The process goes like this: penetration testers, or pen testers, plan and launch simulated cyberattacks on a target system.

This is meant to identify and resolve the system’s weak spots before any hackers gain access to the system and inflict serious security damage. This is also why penetration testing is sometimes referred to as ethical hacking. The process is conducted manually or by software applications.

Pen testing is a holistic approach that involves the checking of all ranges of networks, applications, and physical security components. This can be conducted manually or by automated tools. When executed properly, businesses can effectively protect their data and systems in the event of a cyberattack.

What Jobs Use Penetration Testing Skills?

The main role of a penetration tester is to establish vulnerabilities within the system of an organization. It is your sole responsibility to be one step ahead of the hackers.

Pen testers can launch careers in various industries, such as: 

  • Finance. Bank institutions are in constant threat from hackers for one obvious reason: to steal money. There’s an incessant need to come up with new ways to protect customer data and their money. As a penetration tester, you can work in any financial institution to identify their system’s security weaknesses.

  • Human Resources. Pen testing is also essential in safeguarding employee information. Many hackers manipulate data from different organizations by modifying a record in the HR system.

  • Technology. Due to intense competition in the industry, many technology-based companies suffer from hacks periodically. The cyberattacks they experience are primarily designed to steal sensitive information that features their current developments. Penetration testers secure the IP of their employer company. 

  • Security. Security companies store a lot of sensitive data about their clients, making them subject to constant attacks. As a pen tester, you’re in charge of identifying the channels hackers may leverage to gain access to their systems and data.

Steps to Learn Penetration Testing

Below are simple steps you can take to learn about penetration testing, including the relevant tools and the best practices.

1. Learn About Pen Testing Tools

Now that you know what penetration testing is, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the available tools. There’s Metasploit, NMap, THC Hydra, WireShark, Kismet, and many more. Read more about these tools online and to know how best you can utilize them. 

2. Take Courses

There are plenty of in-person, online, and free courses to help you become a penetration tester. This guide features 10 of the best available courses to attend to become an industry expert. 

3. Watch Tutorials and Attend Webinars

There are plenty of YouTube tutorials and webinars that can keep you up to date with all things penetration testing. Industry experts and researchers are quick to chime in on the latest tools and hacks for you to establish yourself as a penetration tester. 

4. Practice

The more you practice using industry tools, the better you become. Try as much as possible to interact with different challenges penetration testers experience when playing their role.

The Best Courses to Learn Penetration Testing

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Penetration testing skills can land you a job at your dream company.

There are plenty of penetration testing courses available to you. You can easily obtain new skills by signing up for any of the following classes.

Udemy: Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch

You’ll learn how to analyze malware after attending this course. It’s a great beginner’s course to understand how browsers communicate with websites. You will learn more about servers, technologies, and services on a target website.

This course is also instrumental in discovering and fixing code vulnerabilities. You’ll learn the correct way to write SQL queries to prevent SQL injections. By the end of the course, you’ll be well-versed in hacking and preventing such attacks.

IBM: Penetration Testing, Incident Response, and Forensics

In this course, you’ll learn about the different penetration testing phases and how to gather relevant information using popular security testing tools. You’ll also learn the importance of documentation for incident response reports.

This is an excellent course for anyone who wants to gain a basic understanding of cyber security. You’ll have a working knowledge about penetration testing tools and response techniques, as well as the power of scripting.

IBM: Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate

You’ll learn about the current key compliance and threat intelligence. You will also learn how to develop cyber security analyst tools. Finally, you’ll gain additional skills for incident responses and forensic reports with real-world case studies.

LinkedIn Learning (Lynda): Become an Ethical Hacker

Become an ethical hacker by signing up for this course. This is an excellent opportunity to enhance your skills and knowledge in ethical hacking. It’s recommended for both industry professionals and beginners. 

You’ll learn about the common threats to systems, risk identification, scanning networks, and Kali Linux. You’ll also be able to develop countermeasures for implementation. By the end of the program, you’ll be able to successfully identify and mitigate any risks of attack and unwanted incidents.

MIT’s Cyber Security For Managers: A Playbook

This is an explicit course for business managers and industry executives that seek to significantly improve their skills in a data-sensitive environment. The playbook has a variety of topics from cyber security management, cyber security risk management, and practical implications against privacy and security.

You will have access to different industry techniques for defense mechanisms, ideal for technical and non-technical positions. You’ll be able to efficiently build cyber security frameworks that match industry standards. 

Cybrary: Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking Course

This is an exceptional course that features basic to expert-level topics. It has over 15 modules to help you become an expert in the field. You will learn about:

  • Information gathering
  • Reporting
  • Sniffing traffic exploitation
  • Reconnaissance malware identification
  • Pen test planning

This course will allow you to help private businesses, government agencies, and public organizations in identifying flaws within their systems. It is your responsibility to determine the systems are safe and prevent threats. 

EdX’s Cyber Security Basics: A Hands-on Approach

This specialization will help you learn about:

  • Reverse engineering
  • Cyber security landscape
  • Computer forensics
  • Cyber security attacks
  • Computer forensics

You’ll come out of the course with enough knowledge in preventing cyber security threats and best practices.

Udemy: Specialization in Hacking For Beginners

In this course, you’ll learn everything you need to know about ethical hacking. You’ll have expertise in port scanning, hacking vulnerabilities, setting up a lab practice, and IP address introduction. 

This is a beginner course so there are no prerequisites. You don’t need to have extensive knowledge of Linux or any other programming language.

University of Maryland: Cyber Security Specialization

This course covers all the important aspects of building a secure system and leveraging cryptography. It has a wide range of topics such as software testing, buffer overflow, and SQL injection. You’ll develop a security-oriented understanding by the time you complete this course.

Why Learn Penetration Testing?

According to Payscale, the average penetration tester earns an average of $84,600 annually. Your pay may be higher or lower than this depending on your level of experience, education, and skills. Industries such as the military and finance pay a lot more due to the sensitive nature of their businesses.

Today, more and more hackers are becoming more skilled in penetrating firewalls. Through penetration testing, organizations can identify their vulnerabilities and address them appropriately. 

It is an essential process to maintain the security of their infrastructure or software systems. If you light up at the idea of becoming an essential member of a company’s cyber security team, then learning about penetration testing is your way in.

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