Programming Languages of Choice for Cybersecurity Jobs

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Updated October 21, 2022 · 5 Min Read

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In cybersecurity, a working knowledge of programming languages is essential. Read on to learn more about the best programming languages for cybersecurity jobs.

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Knowledge of programming languages and coding is a must for cybersecurity professionals. Among the programming languages available, several stand out when it comes to cybersecurity.

Statista.com cites JavaScript, Java, Python, and C# as among the top programming languages recruiters and employers look for. Use this article to discover what programming languages are, how they work, and how they can help you get a cybersecurity job.

The Difference Between Programming and Coding

Simply put, coding is one part of programming. Coding involves using programming languages to tell machines what to do, while programming requires a larger pool of knowledge and experience.

Programmers create and develop programs that serve specific purposes. They assess a program's overall function and use frameworks, testing, and code to bring it to fruition. Coding is one essential part of a larger programming project.

How Programming Languages Are Used in Cybersecurity

Hackers create cyberthreats using programming languages. When cybersecurity experts combat those threats, they also use programming languages.

Cybersecurity is part of programming activities like penetration testing and malware analysis. When used to perform cybersecurity functions, programming languages protect computer systems and programs.

Best Programming Languages for Cybersecurity Experts

To protect computers, programs, systems, and networks, cybersecurity professionals need to know the most widespread programming languages. The programming languages below are some of the most useful and in-demand languages in the cybersecurity field.

Python


A general-use object-oriented language, Python is one of the most popular programming languages. Developers, software engineers, and programmers use Python across diverse industries. It finds use in web development, scientific and numbering computing, and business applications.

Notable companies that use Python include Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Dropbox.

Easy to learn and read, Python can help experts analyze cyberthreats. Hackers often use Python, making it a programming language cybersecurity professionals often encounter.

JavaScript


JavaScript is one of the core scripting languages for web development. Front-end developers use JavaScript, and back-end developers use it through Node.JS.

Object-oriented and event-driven, JavaScript enhances HTML webpages and existing online content. Paypal, Uber, and Microsoft all use JavaScript.

JavaScript plays a role in web applications and game development. Its pervasiveness on the internet makes it a key target for exploitation. Knowledge of JavaScript allows cybersecurity professionals to investigate, protect, and resolve security issues associated with applications that use the language.

Java


Widely used for web-based and enterprise-level application development, Java is the core programming language for Android applications. Java also has applicability in finance, retail, and communications.

Many users find Java more difficult to learn than languages like Python. However, its understandable syntax and rules make it popular for developers. Often considered one of the safest programming languages, Java still has vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

SQL


Structured Query Language, or SQL, is a domain-specific programming language. SQL communicates with databases and serves as the standard language for relational database management systems in the United States and around the world.

Large enterprises use SQL to maintain, access, and manipulate data. Hackers can attack any database that uses SQL using an injection attack. SQL's widespread use makes it an essential programming language for cybersecurity professionals.

C and C++


The main difference between C and C++ is the latter's function as a procedural and object-oriented programming language. In contrast, C is a procedural language only. Knowing C can make learning C++ easier. Users often consider C++ a more powerful language.

C and C++ use similar syntax, structure, and keywords, many of which perform the same functions in both languages. Web developers and software engineers use C and C++. C++ finds common use in streaming applications like Spotify and YouTube, along with graphics programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

C++ can help identify vulnerabilities in software and analyze malware.

PHP


As a general-purpose scripting language, PHP makes the internet more dynamic and interactive. Its back-end capabilities make it a common language that companies like Facebook, Slack, and Etsy use. Part of more than 80% of the top 10 million web domains, this powerful language may attract cyberthreats and attacks.

PHP lets software developers integrate logic into a website and manage data. Its extensions interact with databases to extract and store information entered into websites. Because PHP programs involve information exchange, making PHP safe is a necessity when using the programming language.

HTML


A crucial web development language, HTML displays information in web browsers. HTML lacks programming logic, but its fundamental importance to creating, organizing, and maintaining websites makes it a language cybersecurity professionals need to know.

Arguably, hacking or accessing HTML code is not illegal. Still, to keep information secure, anyone who wants to keep their website contents safe should understand its vulnerabilities. Knowledge of how HTML can be used to hack is also essential in cybersecurity.

Which Cybersecurity Programming Language Should You Learn?

The right programming language for cybersecurity jobs depends on your interests, position, and industry. Learning several languages can benefit people entering the cybersecurity field. It can also help current cybersecurity professionals advance their careers.

Research can help you decide which language or languages fit your needs. Resources for learning cybersecurity programming languages include free online courses and traditional degrees. Cybersecurity bootcamps and programming language certifications provide options to learn and hone coding and programming skills.

Resources

FAQ About Programming Languages and Cybersecurity


Do you need to know programming languages for cybersecurity jobs?

You should know programming languages for cybersecurity jobs. To understand the threats posed to devices, programs, and systems, you must know how these threats are written and how to make programs to counter them.

Which programming language should I learn to work in cybersecurity?

The language you should learn to work in cybersecurity depends on your career goals. Top languages for cybersecurity professionals include Python, JavaScript, and PHP.

Can programmers work in cybersecurity?

Programmers can work in cybersecurity. Programmers possess the skills and experience to analyze programs and systems, detect vulnerabilities, and combat attacks effectively.

Is it better to know how to code or program in cybersecurity?

Programming provides the more comprehensive knowledge and skills needed to work in cybersecurity. Coding is one aspect of the larger category of programming.

Reviewed by:

Darnell Kenebrew is a first-generation graduate from San Francisco State University's class of 2020. He graduated with a bachelor's in computer science, which helped him kick off a career in tech and pursue roles within data and engineering.

Currently, he's a data analytics engineer at Meta and an executive captain for COOP Careers — a nonprofit for overcoming underemployment. Kenebrew strongly believes in giving people a chance and that everyone should have an equal opportunity within the job market. He believes that COOP Careers helps this equality materialize.

Kenebrew is passionate about how the industry is shaped with data and how data can be leveraged in many aspects of business decisions to meet goals. In addition, he's passionate about inclusion, community, education, and using data for good. He hopes that he can pivot business decisions to make a positive, meaningful impact and that his work will positively impact end-users, as well as meet business goals.

Darnell Kenebrew is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.


Page last reviewed Aug 3, 2022

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