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The Certified Ethical Hacker is a professional certification, provided by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council.)
An ethical hacker is usually employed by an organization who trusts him or her to attempt to penetrate networks and/or computer systems, using the same methods as a hacker, for the purpose of finding and fixing computer security vulnerabilities. Unauthorized hacking (i.e., gaining access to computer systems without prior authorization from the owner) is a crime in most countries, but penetration testing done by request of the owner of the victim system(s) or network(s) is not.
A Certified Ethical Hacker has obtained a certification in how to look for the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems and uses the same knowledge and tools as a hacker.
The code for the CEH exam is 312-50. The certification is in Version 8 as of late 2013.
The EC-Council offers another certification, known as Certified Network Defense Architect (C|NDA). This certification is designed for United States Government Agencies, and is available only to members of selected agencies. Other than the name, the content of the course is exactly the same. The exam code for C|NDA is 312-99.
Certification is achieved by taking the CEH examination after having either attended training at an ATC (Accredited Training Center) or done self-study. If a candidate opts for self-study, an application must be filled out and proof submitted of 2 years of relevant information security work experience. In case you do not have two years of information security related work experience, you can send them a request detailing your educational background and request for consideration on a case basis. The current version of the C|EH is V8 uses EC-Council's exam 312-50, as did the earlier versions. Although the new version V8 has recently been launched. This exam has 125 multiple-choice questions, a 4 hour time limit, and requires at least a score of 70% to pass. The earlier v7 had 150 multiple-choice questions and a four hour time limit. The version 7 and version 8 exams costs US$500 for the actual test and US$100 as a nonrefundable fee if you have done self-study only. Prices apply in the United States (prices in other countries may differ), and is administered via computer at an EC-Council Accredited Training Center, Pearson VUE, or Prometric testing center (in the United States).
EC-Council Continuing Education (ECE) points serve to ensure that all certified professionals maintain and further their knowledge. Professionals must meet ECE requirements to avoid revocation of certification. Members holding the C|EH/C|NDA designation (as well as other EC-Council certifications) must recertify under this program every three years for a minimum of 120 credits.
Certain computer security professionals have objected to the term ethical hacker: "There's no such thing as an 'ethical hacker' - that's like saying 'ethical rapist' - it's a contradiction in terms." Part of the controversy may arise from the older, less stigmatized, definition of hacker, which has since become synonymous with computer criminal.
On the other hand, some companies do not seem to mind the association. According to EC-Council, there has been an increase of careers where C|EH and other ethical hacking certifications are preferred or required. Even the US government accepts this association and requires C|EH accreditation for some jobs per DoD 8570.01-M guidelines.