Top 10 Best Ethical Hacking Courses For Beginners
Ethical hacking is the process of attempting to penetrate computer systems and networks with the intention of locating weaknesses and vulnerabilities..
Ethical hacking is the process of attempting to penetrate computer systems and networks with the intention of locating weaknesses and vulnerabilities (real and potential) that could be exploited by malicious hackers. Any information uncovered is then used to improve the system’s security and plug loopholes. Sound interesting? Then an online ethical hacking course is for you.
Ethical hacking is sometimes referred to as penetration testing, intrusion testing, or red teaming. There are many types of hackers, and ethical hackers are usually referred to as white hat hackers. This skill is in high demand and a white hat hacking course can jumpstart your cybersecurity career.
Who Is An Ethical Hacker
Hacking is the process of finding vulnerabilities in the system and exploiting them to gain access to the information in the system. Needless to say, hacking is illegal and is punishable with serious fines amounts and prison time.
On the other side, ethical hacking refers to hacking carried out with the system owner’s consent. Many large corporations employ ethical hackers to break into their systems, identify their flaws, and offer suggested remedies. Ethical hacking is a defense against real malicious hacking by actors acting in bad faith online.
Fact Check: According to the report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, listings for Cybersecurity jobs have increased by a whopping 75% in the last 5 years alone and are supposed to increase by 28% in the coming years by 2026. This has resulted in making a lot of unfulfilled positions, and a great demand for cybersecurity professionals, especially Ethical Hackers.
Reasons why you should learn Ethical Hacking
1. Understand A Hackers Mindset
Learning ethical hacking has the ability to enhance and inform how a company network is protected, which is the most evident advantage. A black hat hacker is the main threat to the cyber security of any organization. Defenders can identify and rank possible threats by understanding how they function. In reality, a network cannot be completely free of attacks. However, with ethical hacking abilities, cyber security experts will be able to lessen the impact of the possible threat and allocate constrained resources that lower the likelihood of an attack being successful. Network defenders who receive ethical hacking training may find it easier to adopt this way of thinking.
2. Know Hidden Techniques and Explore Better Ways
By ethical hacking into the system, you can learn about ample security options, which otherwise might have resulted in security breaches. With the right approach, you can know about the best security practices to be followed and new concepts like:
- Hacking Mobile Phone
- Windows and Linux
- ART of Hacking
- Testing Web Application Security
Learning all these concepts would not only be used in your professional career but also when you decide to change your platform.
3. Helps with Development and Quality Assurance
Due to lack of time, stakeholders frequently skip security testing while creating new products, which might occasionally leave the program open to theft and hacking. However, with an ethical hacker on staff, security testing may be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and according to best standards. The study of tools developed by hackers and quality assurance testers to hasten the correction of common vulnerabilities is another benefit of understanding ethical hacking. Additionally, by being aware of these tools, developers can learn about common code mistakes.
4. Good salary package
According to INFOSEC Institute, the average salary for a Certified Ethical Hacker is $71,331 per annum. If you learn Ethical Hacking, your chances of securing a career in Cyber Security will increase, an industry that will be recruiting 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021. On top of it, the demand for Cyber Security professionals is more than the supply. And that’s perhaps the reason why the companies are readily paying a handsome salary to recruit for their Cyber Security team to protect their information from black hat hackers.
5. The world is your Oyster
As an ethical hacker, you have the liberty to work for whichever industry you want. You can work for one of the Fortune 500 or even start a small venture on your own. Moreover, for those who aspire to travel the world, ethical hacking might be the right start. The reason is that on the global scale, Cyber attacks are on an all-time ride and are outpacing the supply of ethical hackers. Thus, there are plenty of opportunities for cybersecurity professionals.
Just remember this: the hacking practice that you are indulging in is ethical and is for the greater good. Whenever finding a system is vulnerable to some attacks, you will be reporting it to the higher authorities, rather than finding any malicious personal monetary gain out of it. With this, you will not only protect your organization but also experience the adrenaline rush of successfully hacking into somebody else’s system.
- Ethical Hacking Roadmap – A Beginners Guide
- Ethical Hacking Overview
- Best Hacking App For Android
- 20+ Best Ethical Hacking Books For Beginners
Best ethical hacking courses online
Here is our list of the best ethical hacking courses to learn hacking from scratch:
A quick search will yield a ton of results for an ethical hacking course online, but they aren’t all worth your time. We reveal more about our favorite courses below.
We’ve included a range of course types in our list, but here are some things to think about when deciding on which one to try first:
- Don’t go in over your head. Some courses assume a certain level of background knowledge, while others are targeted at complete beginners. Choose a course that’s at the right level for you.
- Consider minimum requirements. Bear in mind that you’ll need specific software to follow some courses, so be prepared to gather some resources if needed.
- Look for special offers. Paid courses are often of higher quality, but they can get pricey. However, many companies run special offers so you end up paying very little for a superior-quality course.
- Watch out for scammers. Unethical hackers prey on amateurs, so be careful you don’t sign up with unethical hackers who promise to teach you the ropes.
Here is our list of the best ethical hacking courses to learn hacking from scratch:
#1. StationX – The Complete Ethical Hacking Course Bundle (Paid – Beginner)
StationX’s The Complete Ethical Hacking Course Bundle is our top choice for the best ethical hacking course and is really the gold standard for white-hat hacker training. This comprehensive course was developed with beginners in mind and contains everything you need to know about ethical hacking and how to secure systems against attacks.
It starts with basic terminology and shows you how to install the required software, and how to set up a penetration testing lab. Aside from ethical hacking and penetration testing, you’ll also learn about hacking and testing for websites and networks, social engineering, and using Android for testing computer system security.
Your instructor throughout is a computer scientist and ethical hacker Zaid Al Quraishi.
This bundle usually costs $500 but Comparitech readers save 87% and benefit from five courses for just $65.
Courses in the bundle:
- Ethical hacking from scratch
- Website hacking from scratch
- Network hacking from scratch
- Social engineering from scratch
- Hacking using Android
- Basic IT skills
- Wireless adapter
#2. Cybersecurity For Managers: A Playbook (MIT Management Executive Education)
Cybersecurity isn’t simply the hotspot for IT departments or firms, but also a matter of deep concern for departments and organizations operating across the board. This course is specifically designed for managers and entrepreneurs to make them capable of managing their teams and keeping their data safe.
The program takes references from real-life industry examples to offer insights into better management of risk in the field of cybersecurity. Those who manage to complete the course are also rewarded with a verified digital certificate from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
- A verified digital certificate from MIT Sloan School of Management.
- Teaches cybersecurity jargon for easy communication.
- The course teaches the cybersecurity framework for better risk management.
- It also teaches the cybersecurity framework for easy adoption by company executives and decision-makers.
Requirement: Designed specifically for managers and company decision-makers.
Topics covered: Cybersecurity framework of National Institute of Standards and Technology, Defense-in-Depth mechanisms, cybersecurity framework for risk management.
Duration: 6 weeks
#3. Udemy – Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch (Paid – Beginner)
This is a very comprehensive ethical hacking course for absolute beginners with no previous knowledge of hacking or penetration testing. It focuses on the practical side of penetration testing but doesn’t neglect the theory, for example, how devices interact inside a network.
You will first learn how to set up a testing lab on your own machine, and how to install the Kali Linux operating system. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with Linux; you will quickly learn the basic commands you need to interact with the Kali Linux terminal.
Approximately $130, although Udemy offers regular specials so we’ve seen the price as low as $29.99.
TIP: This course is included as part of the StationX Ethical Hacking bundle.
- Network penetration testing
- Gaining access
- Post exploitation
- Web application penetration testing
- 15.5 hours of on-demand video (about 135 videos)
- Basic IT skills
- Wireless adapter
More: Udemy provides an easily navigable portal to a wide range of ethical hacking courses, free and paid. Running a search on “ethical hacking” returns over 800 matches, more than 40 of them free. Some suggestions to get started:
- Start Kali Linux, Ethical Hacking, and Penetration Testing! (Free – Beginner) – Offers a complete tutorial on how to install VirtualBox, including on Windows 8.1, and run Kali Linux in any environment. Learn how to create a virtual environment and the basics of the Linux terminal. All you need is a fast internet connection. (4 hours)
- Kali Linux tutorial for beginners (Paid – Beginner) – Focuses on configuring the Kali Linux operating system to build up Linux targets from scratch to hack. No previous knowledge of Linux is required. You will need to have a basic understanding of networking concepts and of ethical hacking concepts such as port scanning, vulnerability scanning, and so on. (5.5 hours)
#4. Penetration Testing And Ethical Hacking (Cybrary)
This absolutely free-of-cost course is what you need to build a strong career in ethical hacking. It is spearheaded by an ethical hacker himself, who goes by the name Leo Dreier. Leo has many more accomplishments to his credit. It starts with simple easy-to-grasp topics before gradually moving up to more complex levels.
All topics like System hacking, Session hijacking, etc. are covered in a detailed manner, and best of all it is all free of cost. It consists of a total of 19 modules. With Leo to help, students seldom come out of sessions confused or with doubts in mind.
- Free ethical hacking course.
- Topic broken into sections, with each section explained succinctly.
- Beginner level to advanced level coverage.
- 13.5 hours of on-demand video with additional content.
Requirement: A good Internet connection will suffice.
Topics covered: System Hacking, Session Hijacking, Sniffing Traffic, Denial of service, Penetration testing.
Duration: 13.5 hours
#5. Cybrary – The Art of Exploitation (Free – Intermediate)
Buffer Overflow occurs when a program, while writing data to a buffer, overruns the buffer’s boundary and overwrites adjacent memory locations, creating a potential security vulnerability. In this ethical hacking course, you will write a Python script and use it to hack a system affected by Buffer Overflow.
- Vulnerability and exploit
- Buffer overflow
- 3 hours of on-demand video
- Prior coding experience
More: Cybrary courses are totally free and cover a wide range of subjects, but you must pay if you want a certificate of completion, or to access the assessments and exams (approximately $99 per month). The website is well organized with an option to select ethical hacking courses suitable for a specific career path, for example, penetration tester or network engineer, and even create your own syllabus.
You can search for courses by skill type, level, or certification. When you sign up, you will be directed to your dashboard, which displays the courses you’ve completed or are busy with, your certifications, and even posts you’ve published to the Cybrary community. This site is ideal if you want to build up a portfolio of knowledge, keep track of your progress, and ultimately choose one or more certifications.
#6. Learn Ethical Hacking Online–(LinkedIn)
For all likes and preferences, this LinkedIn Ethical Hacking course has plenty to offer. There are a whopping 20 courses available for applicants to take. The course is made to meet your specific needs, regardless of your level of experience in the subject.
Several experts from the field of ethical hacking are personally involved in designing the course to make it even more effective. The course covers topics like Kali Linux, Scanning Networks, etc.
- Free first month to try the course in the trial version.
- Opportunity to learn from various industry experts.
- A plethora of courses is laid out in an orderly manner.
- High ratings and reviews by students.
Requirement: Just a good Internet connection will suffice.
Topics covered: Kali Linux, Scanning networks, footprinting and reconnaissance, Session hijacking.
#7. EH Academy – The Complete Cyber Security & Hacking Course (Free – Beginner to Intermediate)
The fundamentals of white hat hacking are covered in this ethical hacking course, along with a thorough video on how to set up a lab. Additionally, you’ll learn fundamental Windows and Linux commands as well as an introduction to the Nmap and Metasploit tools. It’s a wonderful touch that you may leave comments or ask the teacher or other students questions beneath each video.
- Computer basics and introduction
- Setting up your lab
- Information gathering
- System hacking
- Web server (site) hacking
- 1.5 days
- Reliable internet connection
More: For the advanced hacker, EH Academy offers a wide range of specialized ethical hacking courses, most of them paid (ranging from $50 to $200). Examples are Using Python For Offensive Penetration Testing, Advanced Mobile Application Penetration Testing, iOS Application Penetration Testing Training, Metasploit training for Penetration Testing & Ethical Hacking, and VoIP Hacking & Penetration Testing Training.
#8. Hacking And Patching Certification By University Of Colorado (Coursera)
If hacking Wi-Fi passwords and web apps excites you, then this is your course. The course was created by the University of Colorado and spearheaded by Professor Edward Chow, a professor of computer science. Apart from hacking passwords, the course also takes a practical hands-on approach with their student, which includes penetration tools and hands-on lab scanning.
Although you can get started with the course directly, it is advised to follow the order of the courses to reap maximum benefit.
- The course is divided into 4 parts.
- Topics to hack and patch apps with injection vulnerabilities.
- 20 videos, 12 readings.
- Training on tools like the Kali penetration testing suite and Nessus scanning tool.
Requirement: Basic cybersecurity and computer science knowledge.
Topic covered: App hack and patch, Hack SQL databases, Memory attack, and defenses.
Duration: 12 hours
#9. Offensive Security – Metasploit Unleashed (Free – Intermediate to Advanced)
The in-depth Metasploit Unleashed ethical hacking course is provided for by Offensive Security. The organization’s goal in providing the course is to increase awareness for children in East Africa who are underprivileged. The course assumes you understand some fundamentals, for example, command-line interface commands, and scripts.
- Everything you need to know to get started with Metasploit
- Hands-on practice from information gathering to writing a simple fuzzer
- Reliable internet connection
- A virtual machine (aka Hypervisor) to host your labs
- Minimum 10 gigabytes of storage space
- Sufficient RAM (check under Requirements in the Introduction section to calculate how much you will need)
- The bare-minimum requirement for VMware Player is a 400 MHz or faster processor (500MHz recommended)
- Kali Linux (download under Requirements in the Introduction section)
- A vulnerable VMware virtual machine to scan and attack (download “Metasploitable” under Requirements in the Introduction section)
#10. Coursera – Cryptography (Free – Intermediate)
By the end of this ethical hacking course, provided by the University of Maryland through Coursera, you’ll have a firm grasp of cryptographic primitives in wide use today. You’ll also learn how to combine these to develop modern protocols for secure communication.
- Foundations and practical applications of modern cryptography
- 7 weeks
- Some experience covering discrete mathematics and basic probability
- Prior exposure to algorithms will be helpful
- Familiarity with programming in a C-like language
- Mathematical maturity
More: MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are free online college-level classes open to everyone. They are apparently “more popular than cheese.” They don’t count towards degree credits but will be appreciated by future employers as degree-level training.
Although video is typically the preferred form of education, students can pick the teachers’ brains in chat rooms and on online discussion boards. Depending on the course, different sorts of assessments are available, ranging from official exams to peer evaluations. Most of the courses last six to eight weeks to complete, while some have set schedules.
This free course offered by Mindsmapped is a four-part program. Aimed at beginners, it comprises 35 lectures in total and should take around five hours to complete.
The fours modules are:
- Introduction to Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking (2 lectures)
- Deep-Dive into Ethical Hacking (3 lectures)
- Penetration Testing (6 lectures)
- Ethical Hacking (24 lectures)
You’ll learn the basics of ethical hacking including exactly what it is and its different phases. The course also delves into virtualization and penetration testing, including practical applications of all topics.
Is ethical hacking legal?
Yes. The Librarian of Congress published a variety of exclusions to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 2015, basically permitting white hat hackers to hack software for research and in exchange for exposing any vulnerabilities they may find. This divisive subject is growing increasingly significant as computers are found in more commonplace things, including automobiles.
An ethical hacker must abide by the following (informal) guidelines:
- Get express (written, preferably) permission to attempt to penetrate an organization’s system.
- Be respectful of all the company’s rules and policies.
- Notify the company of all weaknesses and vulnerabilities found.
- Leave the system in the way it was found, that is do not create any weaknesses that could be exploited at a later date.
- Keep a written record of what is done on the system.
- Do not violate the laws of a country by, for example, doing something that breaches copyrights, intellectual property, privacy laws, and so on.
Why take an ethical hacking course?
In accordance with the limitations imposed by the business and national laws, an organization may employ an ethical hacker to attempt to compromise its computer system. An employee may be trained by the organization to carry out this function internally. Sometimes so-called “geeks” who hack on their own time without doing any harm are merely ethical hackers. These kinds of hackers do it “for the fun of it” and, if they’re bounty hunters, even get paid if they find a loophole in an organization’s system.
If you decide to undergo white-hat hacker training, you’ll be in excellent company. For instance, a little-known fact about Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, is that he was a hacker in his early years. According to Investopedia, “As a student at Oxford University, Berners-Lee was banned from using the university computers after he and a friend were caught hacking to gain access to restricted areas.”
One of the most notorious white hat hackers in recent times is Kevin Mitnick, described once by the US Department of Justice, as “the most wanted computer criminal in United States history.” After serving time for unlawful hacking, he reformed and became a paid ethical hacking consultant for numerous Fortune 500 companies, as well as for the FBI.
Ethical hacking can be a very rewarding career. The salary range for certified ethical hackers in 2021 was $45,000 to $129,000 USD, according to InfoSec Institute. According to a poll conducted by Indeed that same year, earnings for ethical hackers ranged from roughly $57,787 for an IT security specialist to $105,973 for a firewall engineer.
The Exabeam 2018 Cyber Security Professionals Salary and Job Report found that 23.7 percent of security professionals surveyed had a CEH certification (more on that below).
Other ethical hacking resources
For on-the-job training in a particular niche, formal ethical hacking courses are ideal. As an alternative, many hackers support independent study. You gain the opportunity to identify your area of special interest as a result. Here are some additional ethical hacking resources, including lessons, practice exercises, and articles.
- Hacking Tutorial – Access this site with care; some of these tips and tricks are questionable, if not downright illegal. The reason we include it is that one of the responsibilities of an ethical hacker is to know what their evil counterpart is up to.
- Hack This Site – A free, safe, and legal training ground for hackers to test and expand their hacking skills. Includes an IRC channel where you can hook up with fellow white hatters and ask questions.
- Exploit Exercises – As the name suggests, see if you can spot code vulnerabilities in a series of advanced hacking challenges.
- Vuln Hub – This site offers a really fun way to practice your skills in hands-on workshops, for example, download a custom VM and then try to obtain root-level access.
- YouTube – Perfect for the lazy ethical hacker; all you need is popcorn. Simply search “ethical hacking course.”
- Tutorials Point – The Ethical Hacking Tutorial provides a good overview for beginners.
- Open Security Training – The Hacking Techniques and Intrusion Detection course are under a Creative Commons License so you can use it to train employees in-house. All the materials are supplied; just add an instructor. The course creator is available for on-site training.
Consider joining an ethical hacking forum or employing an ethical hacker to share their knowledge and experience with you to improve your learning experience. Most hackers provide in-depth tutorials for their software if you’re interested in a specific tool or platform.
Ethical hacking is the new hot career on the block. With many vacancies remaining to be fulfilled, it is also one of the most in-demand career opportunities up for grabs right now. So if you are someone seeking a career in the field, the above courses will give you the boost you need.
The courses were rounded up after gathering tons and tons of student and expert opinions on the same. Most of these courses are fairly affordable and cover the basics of ethical hacking before gradually moving to more advanced stuff.
We advise choosing the “Udemy” course “Ethical hacking for beginners” if you are a newbie with no prior knowledge of the subject. “Ethical Hacking and penetration for beginners and experts (Pluralsight)” should do the trick for you if you have any operating system or TCP/IP experience.
We recommend the Become an ethical hacker course from LinkedIn Learning as it is free and is delivered under the constant tutelage of not one, not two but four of the best in the field.