Ethical Hacking vs. Cyber Security: Ultimate Comparison Guide

Ethical Hacking vs. Cyber Security: Ultimate Comparison Guide

Many businesses are now becoming cautious about their system’s security. They are giving more attention to building a robust cybersecurity strategy at their workplace. This will ensure high security of the organization’s valuable data and information. Though there are many domains of the cybersecurity industry, ethical hacking is one of those subsets. 

Companies investing in their security infrastructure will surely look for ethical hackers and cybersecurity professionals to deal with their systems or networks. Due to this, job opportunities in this field are more likely to increase at a fast pace. So, if you are interested in these fields or have a relevant background, you too can pursue specific certifications, get into the industry, and boost your career. 

So, are you now deciding which career to choose ethical hacking vs. cyber security? Read this comprehensive guide for better understanding.

Understanding What is Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a process that protects the network, system, and data of any organization against cyber theft or crime. It prevents data breaches, hostile assaults, or any illegal access to the system. 

The cybersecurity field requires experts who have a better understanding of cybersecurity concepts and can prevent any cyber crime or help them maintain robust systems against hackers. Cyber crimes are increasing day by day. 

The hackers use strong encryption codes to enter any system and steal data. They use different forms of cyber attacks like phishing, force entry, malware, ransomware, threatware, viruses, etc. 

All these contribute to the growth of cybercrime; thus, it has become a cyber threat. The cybersecurity field is increasing with the advancement of technology, and thus, every organization will look for the best cybersecurity professionals to help them. 

If you want knowledge and hands-on cybersecurity experience, you can opt for a CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst course. 

Moreover, the cybersecurity field has been classified into different categories:

  • Application security
  • Network security
  • Data security
  • Cloud security
  • Identity security
  • Information security
  • Endpoint security
  • Mobile security

Phases of Cybersecurity

The Cybersecurity field involves knowledge of broad subjects from networking to information security methods. Generally, cybersecurity is broader, including ethical hacking, cloud security, application security, etc. 

Though ethical hacking is a part of the cybersecurity field, there are many differences between ethical hacking vs. cyber security.

However, cybersecurity has 4 major phases in its entire operating cycle: Identify, Protect, Detect, and React. 

  1. Identify

This phase includes a process to recognize and understand different cybersecurity risks on the network, system, and information. Identifying the risk and evaluating its solution is very necessary. 

  1. Protect 

This phase involves implementing proactive measures to secure the data and information of the organization. It helps the organization protect their employee’s or clients’ data privacy and reduce the associated risk. 

  1. Detect 

The other phase is to detect. It is the process where experts identify the cybercrime events, evaluate all the alternatives, and develop various relevant solutions and options. 

  1. React 

As soon as any cyber threat is detected, it becomes essential to implement strategies and actions to address the security incident and protect the organization’s system or network. So, taking appropriate measurable actions at the right time is very important. 

What Does Ethical Hacking Mean?


Ethical hacking is part of cybersecurity, used as an application for security and network controls. Ethical hacking is a type of hacking done for a positive purpose, not to harm anyone. It is also done in response to negative hacking or potential security breaches. 

Ethical hacking, being a subset of cybersecurity, mainly focuses on determining vulnerabilities within the organization’s system or network. It also resolves any malicious activity going on within the system. 

Ethical hacking includes testing and validating processes to identify the weakness or any malicious activity on the system. It informs the organizations about the flaws, and on approval of the organization to develop solution strategies, penetration testing is done. 

So, if your system is facing issues or any malicious attacks, you can hire an ethical hacker expert. Moreover, to become an ethical hacker and earn a higher income, you can take courses like Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) to learn its concepts and practical applications.

Benefits of Ethical Hacking 

There are many benefits of ethical hacking. It is a broad field with a systematic and proactive approach to mitigating risks and eliminating any malicious happenings on the system. 

Some of the major benefits of ethical hacking are:

  • Ethical hacking helps provide a solution for any vulnerabilities happening in the system or network of an organization. 
  • It protects the data and valuable information of an organization from being stolen or lost due to cyber theft or cyber-attacks. 
  • Regular assessments are done to track the current security control status. 
  • Penetration testing is followed to resolve any vulnerability and further build a strong security system. 
  • It prevents potential attackers from drawing meaningful insights into the security posture of the organization. 

To get further in-depth learning and knowledge of ethical hacking, you can join this Certified Ethical Hacker | CEH course. This will help you explore more ethical hacking and penetration testing. The learning modules and hands-on projects allow you to become a white ethical hacker expert. 

Different Types of Ethical Hackers

Ethical hackers do ethical hacking. They are popularly known as white hat hackers, “the good guys.” 


Some of the major types of ethical hackers are:

  1. White hat hacker: White hat hackers have knowledge of extensive computer networks and operating systems. Their work is to do hacking and prevent hacking of the system or network of private or government organizations. They seek to protect businesses and support them by providing solutions. 
  2. Black hat hackers: These types of hackers are cybercriminals who violate the cyber law and enter forcefully into other’s computer networks using inappropriate methods like phishing, SQL injection, etc. 
  3. Grey hat hacker: Such types of hackers break into any IT network without owners’ consent and follow malicious activities. 
  4. Blue hat hacker: This type of hacker mainly targets security firms that have been in contact with businesses to check their cyber and security systems. Sometimes, they are also motivated by any kind of revenge or desire to seek into others’ systems for any personal or professional gain.
  5. Red hat hackers: Red hat hackers are very skilled ones who government agencies mostly hire to support them and protect them against black hat hackers.

A Comparison Table: Ethical Hacking vs. Cyber Security

ParametersEthical Hacking Cyber Security 
Basic conceptEthical hacking is done to identify vulnerabilities by performing penetration testing and determining weaknesses within the system. Cybersecurity uses technology and methods to protect the system against cyber attacks, breaches, and cyber assaults. 
Role of workIt is an offensive role.It is more like a defensive role.
PurposeIts main purpose is to find vulnerabilities and solve them using different hacking forms. Its purpose is to protect data and systems against any malicious activities by identifying any security issues. 
Professional opportunity Penetration TesterSecurity ManagerVulnerability AssessorCertified Ethical HackerOther hacker roles Cybersecurity AnalystCybersecurity EngineerInformation Security AnalystNetwork Engineer Security ConsultantSecurity Architect 
ResponsibilityIts responsibility is to prepare reports on vulnerabilities and how the hacking was performed. It has the responsibility to develop access control on the system. 
Regular checkRegular testing is done on the system and networks to identify if there is any vulnerability present. Regular maintenance is carried out to ensure that the organization’s system is properly updated. 
Methods usedPhishingSQL injectionCryptographySocial engineeringSniffingSession hijackingEnumeration Encryption toolsFirewall toolsWeb vulnerability scanning toolsPenetration testingNetwork security monitoring toolsPacket sniffers 
Are the terms interchangeable? All ethical hackers can be  cybersecurity professionals All cybersecurity professionals cannot be ethical hackers, as this is a broad term. 
Salary $80,000 to $196,000$62,000 to $146,000

Differences Between Ethical Hacking vs. Cyber Security


To further understand how ethical hacking vs. cyber security differs on a wider scale, have a look at the following points to get a better idea. 

1. Work Responsibility

Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacker’s key responsibilities are:

  • Performance evaluation of the system. 
  • Tests the network and security system of the organization. 
  • Follow penetration testing if required. 
  • Suggest insights and solutions to improve security systems. 
  • Inform the owner in case any malicious activity is confirmed. 
  • Identifies weaknesses of the system. 
  • Use different modes of hacking to prevent security control. 
  • Generate reports of all the vulnerabilities found in the system.

Cyber Security 

Cybersecurity professionals monitor, detect, analyze, and respond to the security system. They protect security systems by evaluating risks and threats happening within the system. 

Following are some key responsibilities: 

  • Enhances the security system. 
  • Work with the IT team to manage the integrity of the network and data in the organization. 
  • Analyzes security control and gives suggestions in those regards. 
  • Updates security systems regularly. 

2. Main Objective

Ethical hacking vs. cyber security differs majorly based on their objectives. 

Ethical Hacking

  • The main aim of the ethical hacker is to improve the network safety and security systems of the organization. 
  • They do so by ensuring that all the vulnerabilities are addressed properly while testing. 
  • They use many methods and tools to enhance the security system against the access of unauthorized users. 


  • Cybersecurity professionals protect sensitive data and information of the organization against any data breach or cyber theft. 
  • It focuses on protecting system and computer networks from any intrusion or unauthenticated access.

3. Methods Used 

Ethical hacking vs. cyber security use different methods and techniques to carry out their operations. 

Ethical Hacking 

Ethical hackers use the following techniques to do their daily responsibilities. 

  • Phishing
  • SQL injection
  • Cryptography
  • Social engineering
  • Sniffing
  • Session hijacking
  • Enumeration
  • Footprinting


The following are some methods used by cybersecurity professionals: 

  • Cybersecurity critical infrastructure
  • Cloud Security
  • Application security 
  • Network security
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Encryption tools
  • Firewall tools
  • Web vulnerability scanning tools
  • Penetration testing
  • Network security monitoring tools
  • Packet sniffers

4. Process

Both ethical hacking vs. cyber security undergo a certain process and have a clear roadmap. 

Ethical Hacking

The ethical hacking process is about finding and leveraging vulnerabilities for organizations’ benefit. An ethical hacker follows different stages: 


  • Reconnaissance – Collects information about networks and systems. 
  • Scanning – The system applies all the collected information to find weaknesses. Basically, scanning is done with the help of obtained data. 
  • Acquiring access – At this stage, hacking starts. Ethical hackers target and attack to enter the system. After getting access, they try to manage the information and modify the codings.
  • Maintaining access – Access is maintained for a long time. The re-enter code is set to make it accessible in the future, too. 
  • Clears the track – To prevent detection, hackers need to cover all their tracks and modify the codes. 
  • Reporting – After successfully stimulating the cyber attack, ethical hackers prepare a report on vulnerabilities and problems addressed during the process. 


  • Determines the problem on the network or system 
  • Take measures to secure the system 
  • Monitors regularly to identify any cyber threat 
  • Resolves and handles incidents 
  • Recover data in case there is a data breach due to cyber attacks 

Importance of Certifications in the Cybersecurity vs. Ethical Hacking Industry

Ethical hacking vs. cyber security are complex processes that require extensive training and in-depth knowledge. Certifications give authentication and authority to the person about their skills and knowledge. It acts as a proof for hiring managers to hire a certified ethical hacker or cybersecurity professional. 

Today, the need for training and certification has increased as the competition is increasing with the advancement of technology. Everyone is in a rush to get high-earning positions and get hired for dream jobs. 

But having such a position requires an extra mile, i.e., certification. With certification, you will be recognized globally and have high growth potential in the future. 

  • An accredited institution or platform can offer you the best certification course, which will help you gain hands-on experience along with the theory knowledge. 
  • To crack the certification exam, you can take any certification course on cybersecurity or ethical hacking (whichever you wish) to guide you better. 
  • You can also prepare yourself with valuable resources and with the guidance of professionals in various online communities. 
  • Many books are available, which you can refer to if you have a fundamental knowledge of concepts.

Certifications Required for Cybersecurity vs. Ethical Hacking Domains

Nowadays, many certifications are available to opt for. You can get these certificates and give your career a boost. 

Certifications for Ethical Hacking 

Certifications for Cybersecurity 

Career Paths and Opportunities in Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking

As the cybercrimes are increasing, the need for ethical hacking and cybersecurity professionals is increasing at a fast rate. Today, in every industry you will find these experts as the companies today are becoming more cautious regarding their internal cyber security. 

In the coming future, it is ascertained that cybersecurity experts and ethical hackers will be of great asset to the companies. If you want to have a secure career option and get high-earning jobs in the future, you can get into this industry.

Career Opportunities in the Cybersecurity Field 

Some of the career opportunities in the cybersecurity field are as follows: 

  • Security Auditor 
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Architect
  • Computer Forensics Investigator
  • Cybersecurity Consultant
  • Cybersecurity Software Developer

Career Opportunities in Ethical Hacking 

Some of the exciting career opportunities in ethical hacking are as follows: 

  • Penetration Tester
  • Cryptographer
  • Incident Responder 
  • Cybersecurity Researcher
  • Ethical Hacking Analyst
  • Security Manager
  • Vulnerability Assessor

The Bottom Line

The Ethical hacking vs. cyber security industry requires a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills. It needs better familiarity with operating systems, networks, and technical tools. The cybersecurity field validates the identity and detects if there is any malicious activity going on. 

Ethical hacking is a part of cybersecurity that goes through various testing and scanning processes to check if there is a vulnerability in the system. Now that you understand both the ethical hacking and cybersecurity field, directly and indirectly, work to protect your organization’s systems and networks. It is necessary to understand its importance and know its future prospects. 

So, if you are interested in any of these fields and have a technical background, you can start preparing for the certification exams using CISSP exam prep courses. It will boost your career path and will offer you training and boot camps for your practical experience. 

To get essential resources and guidance for ethical hacking, you can get the Certified Ethical Hacker | CEH course to get a better position in the organizations after completion of certification.  


Q1: How does Ethical Hacking differ from Cyber Security?

Answer: Ethical Hacking is a specific activity within the broader field of Cyber Security. While Ethical Hacking focuses on simulating attacks to find vulnerabilities, Cyber Security includes a wider range of protective measures such as risk management, data protection, and recovery from attacks.

Q2: What are the main objectives of Ethical Hacking?

Answer: The main objectives of Ethical Hacking are to identify vulnerabilities in a system or network, assess the potential impact of attacks, and help in strengthening the system’s defenses to prevent real cyberattacks.

Q3: What are the key components of Cyber Security?

Answer: Key components of Cyber Security include network security, application security, information security, operational security, disaster recovery, and end-user education. It involves a holistic approach to protecting an organization from various types of cyber threats.

Q4: Who performs Ethical Hacking?

Answer: Ethical Hacking is performed by cybersecurity professionals known as Ethical Hackers or White Hat Hackers. These individuals are usually certified experts who use their skills to improve security, rather than to harm or exploit vulnerabilities.

Q5: What roles are involved in Cyber Security?

Answer: Cyber Security involves various roles including Security Analysts, Security Engineers, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), Network Administrators, and IT Managers. Each role contributes to different aspects of protecting an organization’s digital assets.

Q6: Is Ethical Hacking a part of Cyber Security strategy?

Answer: Yes, Ethical Hacking is an integral part of a comprehensive Cyber Security strategy. It helps organizations proactively identify and address security weaknesses, complementing other security measures.

Q7: What skills are required for Ethical Hacking?

Answer: Skills required for Ethical Hacking include a deep understanding of networking, proficiency in programming languages, knowledge of operating systems, and familiarity with hacking tools and techniques. Ethical Hackers also need strong problem-solving skills and a thorough understanding of cyber laws.

Q8: What are the common tools used in Ethical Hacking?

Answer: Common tools used in Ethical Hacking include network scanners like Nmap, vulnerability scanners like Nessus, penetration testing tools like Metasploit, and various other specialized tools for web application testing, password cracking, and network sniffing.

Q9: How do Ethical Hacking and Cyber Security contribute to an organization’s safety?

Answer: Ethical Hacking helps identify and fix specific vulnerabilities, enhancing an organization’s defense against cyberattacks. Cyber Security provides a broader protective framework, ensuring overall safety from various cyber threats and maintaining data integrity and confidentiality.

Q10: Are there specific certifications for Ethical Hackers and Cyber Security professionals?

Answer: Yes, there are specific certifications. For Ethical Hackers, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a popular certification, while Cyber Security professionals may pursue certifications like Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), CompTIA Security+, and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).