6 Best Programming Languages for Cybersecurity

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Technology

In 2018 there were as many as 80,000 cyberattacks per day; that’s over 30 million attacks per year. But by the beginning of 2021, cybercrime had risen by a staggering 600% – largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So as you can imagine, cybersecurity is a hot topic right now, and businesses are across the globe are doing all they can to protect themselves from an attack.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to an increase in demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals, making this one of the most exciting and lucrative industries you can join right now.

But if you’re thinking about getting started in the industry now or in the future, there are some cybersecurity essentials you must have. And because cybercriminals often use programming languages to carry out an attack or breach, having a good understanding of these languages provides you with a significant advantage.

So, if you want to know more about programming languages and cybersecurity, this guide is for you. Below, we’ve pulled together a list of the six best programming languages you should learn if you’re considering a career in cybersecurity. These are:

1. Python

Python has been a dominant language in cybersecurity for several years now, and its popularity only continues to grow. This is largely because it is a general-purpose language that is used in many (if not most) cybersecurity situations.

For cybersecurity professionals, this is one of the most beneficial languages because it can be used for several important tasks such as detecting malware, penetration testing and analysing cyber threats.

What’s more, Python allows you to automate tasks when needed, and there is an extensive library of scripts readily accessible should you need some extra help. This is why it is one of the most popular and beneficial languages to learn as a cybersecurity professional.

2. JavaScript

Another programming language that is always growing in popularity is JavaScript, and this is because it is the most common programming language used by 95% of websites. This makes it one of the finest and most important programming languages you can master for a career in cybersecurity.

The only issue is, because of the widespread use of the language, applications and systems using it are more likely to be targeted by hackers.

But by understanding JavaScript, cybersecurity professionals can help to fend off attackers. They can also reduce or even remove Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks, exploit event handlers and more.

So, due to its popularity and wide use, we argue that this is one of the best languages you can learn, which is why it is number two on our list.

3. C and C++

C and C++ are both growing in popularity each year, and this includes within the cybersecurity industry. C++ was adapted from the original C coding language, though it does have some of its own distinct features.

One of the key reasons these are so useful for cybersecurity is because using C language in reverse engineering helps with the development of antivirus programs. Not only this, but it allows professionals to disassemble malware to examine how it has been designed and spread, as well as its consequences.

And cybersecurity professionals will benefit from learning C++ as well as C because this language helps them to detect vulnerabilities and security weaknesses by making it easier to recognise security flaws in code.

Plus, another bonus of these languages is that because they are low-level programming languages and they have a fairly simple syntax compared to some of the others on this list, these are much easier to master in just a few months.

4. SQL

SQL stands for Structured Query Language, and with businesses becoming more data-driven, it has now become the most demanded database management programming language.

In fact, most websites will use SQL for their data management activities as it can deal with multiple database systems. This makes it arguably the most straightforward language for handling a database – something which is very important to cybersecurity professionals trying to protect the data stored within.

What’s more, attackers will often choose to use SQL to try and steal or compromise confidential data and execute web-based attacks.

As such, having a good understanding of SQL helps cybersecurity professionals to comprehend the activities of these attackers. This allows them to anticipate and then put steps in place to avoid SQL injections and other database-related attacks.

5. PHP

PHP is one of the most powerful server-side coding languages out there, and it is used in around 80% of the web’s top 10 million domains.

Because of this, understanding PHP will almost certainly help cybersecurity professionals to understand and fend off attackers.

Some of the best features of PHP are that it can perform automated security analysis, and if you’re a security-focused developer, you can write server-side web application logic, handle back-end resources and use your knowledge of PHP to eliminate any vulnerabilities in the code.

So, although this language is more beneficial for professionals who are working as security-focused developers, even just understanding the language gives you a better chance of stopping security breaches no matter what your role.

6. Java

Last on our list is Java. This is one of the first languages to be used in the design of most operating systems and is therefore used across a range of different industries. It can also be used by cybersecurity professionals in lots of different ways, including in reverse-engineering software applications to discover and exploit vulnerabilities.

Similarly, it is used in penetration testing and in the development of sophisticated vulnerability testing programs used by ethical hackers.

This language is highly dynamic when compared to languages like C++, which is why it is so popular amongst cybersecurity professionals and why it is a good language to learn if you want to get into the industry.

Is it time you learnt a programming language?

So, if you’re considering joining the cybersecurity industry, knowing a programming language or two can certainly benefit your career. Some languages are easier to learn than others, but if you’re going to start anywhere, we recommend starting with one of the languages on our list.

And, of course, the more languages you learn, the more employable and skilled you’ll be.