In between news of security breaches and demands for better personal data protection, one thing is for sure – any cyber security professional would benefit from knowing a programming language or two.
But, as you might have heard, no language is necessarily good or bad; they have different purposes. When your purpose revolves around digital security, some languages are better suited than others.
This article will give you an overview of languages that fit cybersecurity needs best. But first, let’s explore a bit more why programming is important in cyber security.
Why Learning to Code Is Essential for Cybersecurity
If you want to create solutions like VPN or secure payment systems, learning to code is a given. But even though jobs in cybersecurity analytics, database management, cryptography, and cyber forensics don’t require programming knowledge per se, you still need the skill. It benefits your career in multiple ways, such as the following:
- Knowing how code is written and what it means can help you better understand the threats coming from hackers.
- Understanding the logic behind malicious code can help you recognize the causes of threats and identify their symptoms.
- You’ll start recognizing malicious code.
- It can help you recognize vulnerabilities in your system and how a cyber criminal could exploit them, so you can find ways to prevent that.
After all, hackers and cybercriminals often use programming languages for their malicious ways. So let’s explore what languages can help you acquire the above mentioned benefits.
Top Languages for Cybersecurity to Consider in 2022
Cyber criminals use high-level languages, so it’s good to learn at least one such technology. Best if more. So here are six top choices with their pros and cons.
Java has many applications in its arsenal, and cybersecurity is one of them. And this may be because Java’s versatility attracts hackers who target mobile and web applications based on the language and exploit their vulnerabilities.
The language is also beginner-friendly and relatively easy to start learning. This is due to excellent community support and some well-made courses that focus on developing practical skills.
For example, you can learn Java on CodeGym, which offers a good balance of practical and theoretical tasks for developing the skills. The platform also gives you access to a blog and an active community.
Pros of Java:
- It’s beginner-friendly and acquaints you with object-oriented programming fundamentals.
- It facilitates cross-platform development and has minor limitations in this respect.
- Java withstood the test of time and has a strong community of beginner and expert developers.
- You don’t need a commercial license for personal use.
- There’s a high demand for Java developers if you decide to pursue a coding career instead.
- It’s a verbose language that might over complicate the readability of the code, though it can also be an advantage by making it more understandable in the long run.
- Java applications can consume a lot of memory since they run on the Java Virtual Machine.
Python is a general-purpose language like Java, but it is more commonly applied to data science and AI solutions.
Python is technically a scripting language, making it more human-readable – its syntax resembles English. But this also means that Python is not machine-readable and requires an interpreter to translate it into code.
Pros of Python:
- It allows for simple and productive coding.
- Python comes with a free license.
- There are a lot of pre-built libraries to support and augment the functionality of your apps.
- It’s slower than some other languages like C and C++.
- It’s not the best fit for applications that need to execute two or more processes at a time.
It’s another general-purpose language that many developers learn in conjunction with the C language, as C++ is an extension of C. Learning C++ takes a while. Hence, it’s not the first choice for beginner coders.
Hackers use it to breach RAM and system architecture. This means that C++ may also be useful for cyber experts that deal with hardware.
Pros of C++:
- It’s portable; thus, a C++ application can run on any platform.
- C++ is suitable for different development paradigms.
- It gives complete control over memory management.
- You can develop small apps and scale them.
- Some C++ concepts are challenging to grasp and use, such as pointers.
- Since you have complete control over memory, there’s no automatic garbage collection.
- C++ doesn’t fully support the concept of threads.
Ruby is a general-purpose language that supports several paradigms, including functional and object-oriented. It helps solve complex math issues and allows for secure storage of passwords in the hash.
The language is famous for startup web projects and among hackers. Probably for the same reason – web applications.
Pros of Ruby:
- It allows you to get products to market relatively fast and can be used for prototyping.
- It gives you tools that are handy for software development and testing.
- It has built-in protection from several common hacker attacks, like SQL injection.
- Ruby apps can be considerably slower than some of the other technologies.
- It’s not the best fit for most software other than web solutions.
- It’s not the most popular language in the tech community.
Assembly is the closest to machine language a human-readable code can get. It lies between high-level code and microcontrollers, allowing you to access the hardware.
It’s also essential for cyber security experts, even though it’s a low-level language, because it helps understand how malware functions.
Pros of Assembly:
- It’s fast thanks to the efficient use of memory and resources.
- It allows you to control hardware operations.
- It’s pretty challenging to write in Assembly and maintain the code afterward.
- Allows for limited algorithm design.
You might have heard the term “SQL Injection” – a type of malicious code used for tampering with data. It has to do with SQL (Structured Query Language), which is specific to relational database management.
It’s not exactly a programming language, but it is essential for data storage applications. Hence, it’s also valuable to security experts.
Pros of SQL:
- It’s prompt at processing queries for manipulating data (retrieving, adding, deleting).
- It’s a highly standardized language provided by clear documentation.
- It’s relatively easy to learn as it uses a lot of basic keywords, like INSERT and UPDATE.
- Though it’s easy to learn and understand the keywords, SQL does have a complex interface.
- You only get partial control of a database due to specific business rules.
Knowing a programming language or two is essential for cybersecurity experts. Even if your job description doesn’t state the necessity to code, having the skill will allow you to understand how malware works. It can also help you identify and treat software vulnerabilities before hackers exploit them.
Overall, knowing how to code improves your ability to look at problems and devise solutions.