Programming Languages for Ethical Hacking Ethical or “white hat” hacking is the process of identifying vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks and then using that information to secure them. As new technologies are developed, so too are new ways to exploit them; and with the ubiquity of technology in our everyday lives (think the Internet of Things), it’s no surprise that ethical hacking has become a popular way to make a living.
To stay ahead of the curve, ethical hackers need to be able to adapt and learn new programming languages quickly. But what are the most effective programming languages for ethical hacking? In this article, we’ll take a look at the top three languages that are most commonly used by ethical hackers. We’ll also provide some resources to help you get started with each language.
What Is a Programming Language?
A programming language is a set of instructions that a computer can understand and execute. There are many different programming languages, each with their own syntax and semantics. Some programming languages are designed for specific tasks (such as SQL for databases), while others are more general-purpose (such as C or Python).
The three most common types of programming languages are:
- Machine code. This is the native code that a computer can understand and execute. It’s usually specific to a certain type of processor or hardware architecture.
- Assembly code. This is a low-level code that’s specific to a certain type of processor or hardware architecture. It’s usually written in mnemonic form, which makes it easier for humans to read and write.
- High-level languages. These are more abstract than machine code or assembly code, and they aren’t tied to any particular hardware architecture. This makes them more portable and easier to write and read.
Why Do Hackers Need Programming Skills?
Programming skills are essential for ethical hacking, because they allow hackers to automate tasks, create their own tools to test systems for vulnerabilities, and understand how systems work. Without these skills, hackers would be limit to using only the tools that are available to them.
In addition, programming languages provide a common language that ethical hackers can use to communicate with each other. By learning a few common languages, ethical hackers can quickly share information and ideas with each other, which helps them stay ahead of the curve.
So if you’re interest in becoming an ethical hacker, or if you’re already one and you want to stay ahead of the curve, then learning a few programming languages is a good place to start.
Top Programming Languages for Hackers
The best language for you will depend on your level of experience, the type of hacking you’re interest in, and the operating system you’re using.
That said, there are some languages that are more popular among ethical hackers than others. Here are five of the most popular programming languages for hacking, along with a brief description of each.
Ethical Hacking C and C++
C and C++ are two of the most popular programming languages among ethical hackers. They’re both powerful languages that can be use to create a wide range of hacking tools.
C (ISO standard, Wikipedia) is a low-level language, which means it’s closer to machine code than high-level languages like Python. This makes C a good choice for writing system-level software, such as operating systems and network drivers. It’s also relatively easy to learn if you have a background in another programming language.
C++ (official site, Wikipedia) is an extension of the C programming language. It was design to provide object-orient programming features, such as classes and inheritance. C++ is a complex language, but it can be use to write very efficient code.
C and C++ are thus two fundamental languages that every hacker should learn. They will give you a good understanding of how computers work and provide a solid foundation on which to build more specific hacking tools.
This Assembly (Wikipedia) is a low-level programming language that’s use to write code for a specific type of processor. Assembly code is convert into machine code, which can be run on any computer that has a compatible processor.
Different processors have their own specific assembly languages, which makes it difficult to write code that can be run on multiple processors.
Assembly is a difficult language to learn, but it’s very powerful. It’s often use to write exploits, reverse engineering tools, and low-level system software.
If you’re interest in learning assembly, we recommend checking out the book The Art of Assembly Language Programming by Randall Hyde, consider to be one of the best resources for learning this complex language.
Ethical Hacking with Python
Python (official site, Wikipedia, SitePoint) is a high-level programming language that’s widely use in the hacking community. It’s easy to learn, and it has a wide range of libraries that can be use for tasks such as network analysis, web scraping, and database manipulation.
Python is also a good choice for writing tools that need to be automate. For example, you can write a script that will automatically log in to a website and fill out a form.
Unlike C or Assembly, Python is also portable, which means you can write code on one platform and then run it on another without having to recompile it. This makes Python a good choice for writing cross-platform tools.
In short, Python is a versatile language that can be use for a wide range of tasks, making it a good choice for ethical hackers who are just starting out.
It’s worth checking out the book The Python Apprentice, by Austin Bingham and Robert Smallshire.
ThisBash programming language (official site, Wikipedia) is a Unix shell, which is a type of program that provides an interface for running other programs. Bash is commonly use as a command-line interpreter (CLI), which means it can be use to execute commands enter by the user.
Similar to Window’s PowerShell, Bash can be use to launch programs, such as shell commands, and it can also be use to execute other Bash scripts.
It also has a programming language built-in — with features such as loops and conditionals — which can be use to write scripts. These scripts can automate tasks, such as setting up a development environment or deploying a web application.
Since Bash is available on all Unix-based systems — such as Linux and macOS — it’s a good choice for writing cross-platform tools. It’s also quite easy to learn and a fundamental part of many ethical hackers’ toolkits.
Check out the book Learn Bash the Hard Way, by Ian Miell, to learn both core principles and advanced shell scripting. Also take a look at Linux Bible, 10th Edition, by Christopher Negus, to further delve into Unix-based systems.
Ethical Hacking with SQL
SQL, or Structured Query Language (ISO standard, Wikipedia). Is a database query language that’s use to manipulate data store in databases. SQL can be use to add, remove, and update data in a database. It can also be use to query data from a database, which is useful for tasks such as data analysis.
While it might not be the first language that comes to mind when you think of hacking, SQL can be use to launch attacks against web and mobile applications. For example, an attacker could use SQL injection to insert malicious code into a database. Which would then be execute by the application when it retrieves data from the database.
SQL is also useful for ethical hacking tasks such as database security testing and performance testing. For example, an ethical hacker could use SQL to generate a large number. Of queries to a database in order to test its performance under load.
SQL is thus a powerful tool that every ethical hacker should learn. And it’s not as difficult to learn as some of the other languages on this list.
A great place to start learning SQL is through Simply SQL, by Rudy Limeback.