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.
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 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 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.
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.