The Programming Languages That Every Hacker Should Know in 2023

In 2022, cyber risks such as ransomware attacks, data breaches and IT outages are a major concern for businesses globally, with sectors such as education, research, healthcare, communications and government being particularly hard hit.

This has led to a rising demand for ethical hackers, also known as information security analysts, who play a crucial role in protecting businesses from cyberattacks by using the same programming languages and methods as malicious hackers.

Research and Data

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for these professionals is expected to increase by 33% between 2020 and 2030.

A bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology can be helpful, but learning and practicing specific programming languages and security tools can also be a great way to start a career as an ethical hacker.

Programming Languages Intro

Programming languages allow people to communicate with computers by providing sets of instructions for the computer to execute.

These languages are used to create a wide range of technology, including software, mobile apps, and complex systems in automobiles and satellites.

There are five main categories of programming languages: functional, logic, object-oriented, procedural, and scripting.

However, with over 300 programming languages, many of them overlap categories. For example, C is a procedural language, C++ is an extension of C, and C# is an object-oriented language also based on C.

What is Ethical Hacking

Ethical hacking, much like preventive medicine, is a proactive approach to security.

While both criminal hackers and ethical hackers identify weaknesses in computer network systems, the latter use their skills to strengthen security and prevent cyber attacks, malware downloads, and data breaches.

Ethical hackers are responsible for testing for vulnerabilities and weaknesses and using that information to improve the system’s security.

To be effective in this role, they must stay informed about the latest technology and hacking trends while maintaining a strong sense of integrity.

List of Programming Languages

In order to be successful as an ethical hacker, it is important to have a solid understanding of various programming languages.

These languages empower ethical hackers to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in computer systems and to develop effective solutions to strengthen security.

Here is a list of some of the most popular and useful programming languages for ethical hacking:

1. Bash

The UNIX and Linux operating systems come equipped with Shell (SH) and the Bourne Again Shell (Bash) as a standard feature.

These shells offer a series of commands that can be used by hackers to access data. Bash is known for its interactive line editing and job control capabilities, and it offers similar features to those found in C Shell (C SH). B

ash is ideal for automating repetitive tasks, navigating through directories for network configurations, and controlling jobs on supported architectures.

Those new to Bash can take advantage of free online courses that cover the basics of automating repetitive processes using reusable scripts.

Another option is to enroll in a coding bootcamp that specifically covers Shell scripting.

2. C 

C programming language is a powerful low-level language that is useful for hacking into hardware components and writing efficient programming scripts.

Developed in the early 1970s for the Bell Labs’ UNIX operating system, it is one of the oldest programming languages. C is used to build operating systems, databases, and compilers by developers.

For ethical hackers, C programming language is useful as it allows access to memory and system processes.

Ethical hackers use C to reverse engineer, simulate a cyber-attack and gain access to the system as if a breach occurred.

C is a popular language that students can study online through tutorials, workshops or cyber security-focused coding bootcamps.

3. Python

Python is a widely used general-purpose programming language that plays a crucial role in exploit writing within the field of hacking.

It is essential in creating hacking scripts, exploits, and malicious programs. One of the key advantages of using Python for hacking is the availability of ready-made modules.

These modules are designed for specific tasks such as OS modules, socket modules, and more, which make hacking easier.

Python socket programming can also be used to identify vulnerabilities in a system.

4. C++

C++ is an enhanced version of the C programming language, supporting functional, procedural, and object-oriented programming methods.

It is a popular choice for creating advanced computations, browsers, database software, games, graphics, and operating systems.

Ethical hackers often use C++ as a low-level programming language to gain access to hardware and system processes.

To become an ethical hacker with C++ skills, employers may prefer a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity with a solid background in computer science.

5. JavaScript

JavaScript is a valuable programming language for hacking web applications, allowing hackers to find vulnerabilities and perform web exploitation.

It’s widely used in web applications and its libraries. JavaScript is also used to develop cross-site scripting programs for hacking, spread and reproduce malware quickly.

With the release of Node.js, JavaScript now also supports backend development, expanding the field of exploitation for hackers to snoop typed words, inject malicious code and track browsing history.

5. PHP

PHP is a server-side programming language that is widely used to build websites. Understanding PHP can help ethical hackers understand web hacking techniques better.

It’s used in server-side scripting to create custom applications that can alter a web server and make it vulnerable to attacks.

Being one of the most widely used server-side languages in web domains, learning PHP can help you defend against malicious attackers.

Many popular Content Management Systems are built on PHP, so understanding it can help you protect or compromise websites.

6. SQL

SQL is an important programming language for ethical hackers, as it allows for understanding and interacting with databases.

Having a strong knowledge of SQL enables hackers to comprehend the structure of a database and determine which scripts or tools to use.

SQL is particularly useful for hacking large databases, and it is essential for counteracting database attacks.

Additionally, hackers can use SQL to perform SQL injection attacks, which allow them to view and modify confidential information from databases.

7. Perl

Perl is a scripting language that offers a vast network of 108,000 downloadable open-source modules.

Each module contains a collection of related functions in a library file, enabling programmers to conduct network routing operations.

Criminal hackers often use Perl to access servers, other network sources, enhance existing scripts, and steal data.

On the other hand, ethical hackers use Perl to develop exploits and tools for penetration testing, mimicking real-world attacks to identify vulnerabilities in apps, networks, or systems.

Perl has a learning center on its website that provides the language download, resources, and best practices for learning the language.

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