Best Programming Languages for Cyber Security 

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Programming is used in cyber security, and it will totally depend on the kind of position  you are going to pursue. Depending on the type of position you are seeking,  programming may be required or necessary to learn. Cyber security positions such as  the Security Code Auditor or a Security Software Developer will be working with code  every day. It is going to require a strong base as both of these job titles will require  you to work directly with programs every day, ensuring that proper security measures  and controls are set into place to make the system more secure overall. Understanding  how to search for vulnerable code or vulnerably written programs and replace them  with more secure programming practices and methods will be core responsibility in  these jobs.  

So, knowing how to program is very important. Now, Security Code Auditors or  Security Software Developers positions are not the only types of jobs or positions that  are going to be required or necessary to learn to program. Even job positions and titles  such as penetration tester or a security engineer may need to have an excellent  foundational base in programming because they will be defending or attacking or  implementing a system’s overall security, and programming may come in handy for  positions like these. 

How important is it to learn programming for cyber security? 

There are a lot of people who often ask how important it is to learn to program for  cyber security, and most of the time, my answer is, “well it depends”. Because just  starting off, there are many roles that do not really require you to code, and based on  how advanced you want to get, programming may be essential for you. 

Just about all the tools you use in cyber security are written in code, and programming  lets you write tools. So, the important questions to answer first are: what are tools, and  what is the value in knowing how to build them? On a conceptual level, tools extend  your ability to change the environment around you, whether in the physical or digital  world. Combined with intent, they let you create action and change. So, the more 

advanced your tools are, the more leverage you have and the broader range of  activities and change you can achieve. Knowing how to program lets you modify  existing software or craft something more custom to solve specialized cyber security  problems.  

Now that you know programming is important for Cyber security, let me share a list of  the best programming languages for Cyber security. 

Best Programming Languages for Cyber Security Python 

Python is one of the most versatile languages out there today. Not only it lets you work  from IDE, but it also lets you work from the command line, which gives you the ability  to run Python scripts on the fly. In cyber security, when you want to test a script real  quick, you don’t want to have to necessarily throw it into an IDE and debug it and deal  with all that process of the formal programming concepts write a simple python script  and execute it. According to Python’s website, Python is a programming language that  lets you work quickly and integrate systems more effectively. Python is probably one  of the easiest languages to actually understand and learn. So, if you have no  programming experience and you are thinking of analyzing a Python script, well, it’s  actually not that difficult. You can probably figure out what most general Python scripts  are doing, the syntax is very readable and easy to understand. 

A lot of cyber security and hacking tools have been written in Python. You can simply  run them from the command line with various parameters for whatever task you are  trying to accomplish. So just because a tool is written in a certain language does not  actually mean that you have to be an expert on it, you simply need to know how to use  the functionality that the tool’s developer intended to provide. I think it is probably the  most popular language right now and likely will continue to be for several years to  come in cyber security.

JavaScript 

It is probably one of the most important languages you as a security professional need  to know. I know Python is perhaps everyone’s favorite, but the sheer abundance and  availability, and uses of JavaScript just make it extremely important in today’s cyber  security world. So, JavaScript is primarily used on the web. You may encounter it when  you are navigating on a website or attempting to use some fancy feature on a website,  but along with HTML and CSS, it is truly one of the core languages that powers the  internet, I mean websites and web applications. And if you are coming from a security  role you probably know that web applications are extremely important to know how to  use and test. So as a security professional, let’s say you are performing an  assessment on a web application and the client or the customer wants you to test the  functionality on a specific web application that is written in JavaScript, then you will  need to know this programming language in order to assess that web application. You  need to understand JavaScript well because, as a security professional, especially  when it comes to web application assessments, JavaScript is on nearly every website  these days.  

Let’s say you are charged with conducting a penetration test against a small  organization. They have a couple of workstations and a couple of servers, but they  also have a web server that hosts their business application. They have a web  application essentially on this server that is hosting their primary business revenue.  For this particular test, if you don’t understand the JavaScript on that page, how can  you legitimately feel comfortable in running commands or attempting to do some type  of input validation. Not understanding the code that you are attempting to work with  can be truly dangerous. So, if you work with web applications or web servers in the  cybersecurity domain, knowing JavaScript is a must. 

PHP 

PHP is one of the best server-side programming languages in the industry. But it is  also one of the widely used programming languages by hackers to hack websites. So,  having knowledge of PHP will obviously help you in protecting systems against  attackers. If you know PHP well, you will be able to eliminate a lot of vulnerabilities in 

a code. A security-focused PHP developer is responsible for writing server-side web  application logic that should not have any vulnerabilities. It also helps in identifying  faulty websites and taking them down. PHP knowledge allows cyber security  professionals to secure web applications by implementing robust solutions. You can  mitigate frequent cyberattacks by integrating cyber security methods and PHP tools.  RIPS is a very popular tool that performs automated security analysis for PHP  applications. 

Assembly 

Assembly programming language is the closest to machine code. It is a low-level  programming language that is not recognizable by a human. Assembly language gives  you an insane amount of control of any hardware by interacting with memory locations  and computer registries. There are obvious reasons why you should know assembly  programming language if you are in cyber security domain. Imagine if a hacker is able  to manipulate the system you are defending on the byte level, it would be terrifying.  But if you have an in-depth understanding of this language, you will be capable enough  to defend it. A lot of malware is created in this language by hackers. As a Cyber  security engineer, having knowledge of assembly will help you reverse engineer the  working of a malware and understand how to defend them. So, Assembly language  can be used in creating mitigation techniques for malware attacks. 

C and C++ 

If you are interested in learning to exploit development, then you will need to learn C  and C++ because both are very powerful programming languages that give us low level access to the system resources. C and C++ make it easy for us to manipulate  and access the system memory and other resources, which is why it is very good for  exploiting development. This doesn’t mean that you can’t access these resources with  other programming languages, but it just means that C and C++ are the best when it  comes to memory.

If you want to develop operating system exploits for penetration testing or research, C  and C++ would be the best choice. A lot of the operating systems like Microsoft  Windows, Linux have a strong influence of C and C++, and that is going to help you  understand memory and other operating system concepts that you can use for  creating exploits. 

Ruby 

Ruby is another great language for cyber security. It is very easy to use and is excellent  for building hacking tools. You have the whole Metasploit framework, which is built on  Ruby. It is a huge framework for hacking and if you learn it, you will be able to fix lot  of bugs with it if there are any. You will be able to extend it and build and add more  features to it and even write your own Metasploit modules, Metasploit exploits and  Metasploit post exploitation modules. 

Final Thoughts 

I hope you have the clarity now if knowing a programming language in Cyber security is required or not. And I have shared my list of the best programming languages for  Cyber security. Knowing any of these programming languages will surely help in  finding vulnerabilities and exploits in the system. The Cyber security developers tend  to be some of the best cyber practitioners you will meet in the field and are hard to  come by, depending on the team you are on. In terms of overall ability, you will find  that people who can chain tools together or write custom-built code have increasing  expertise levels. And I tend to find that those with programming backgrounds tend to  progress faster and deeper in their Cyber security learning journeys than those who  do not.

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