Hackers are the face of cybercrime, globally cybercrime is a multi billion dollar business. However, the money doesn’t just come from illegal activity. Many hackers can make a good living without ever having to break the law. An ethical hacker otherwise known as a white hat hacker is someone that makes money by helping companies improve their security by actively hacking into the company and then helping them fix the mistake that allowed them to hack into the company in the first place. In order to be a good computer hacker you need to know a lot of things but one of the best things you can learn if you’re interested in hacking computers is how to code. In this article I outline why coding is important for being a good hacker and some of the most important languages that you would want to be familiar with.
Why is coding important for hacking computers?
Firstly, I want to say knowing how to code isn’t a prerequisite for learning how to hack computers. If you’re interested in learning you don’t need to learn how to code before you can get started, however there are many situations where having a solid understanding of coding is useful.
One reason you want to know how to code as a hacker is so you can modify scripts that you will use to hack into different systems. Especially as a beginner you’re mostly going to be using automated tools like nmap, metasploit, burpsuite or programming scripts that were created by other people. This is because most new hackers don’t have the in-depth understanding of how the attacks work and are unable to write their own computer scripts to automate the attacks themselves. Therefore, having a good enough understanding of coding to the point that you can understand and edit other people’s computer scripts is very useful for a beginner. One source if you’re looking for pre made scripts that you can use to get started hacking computers is exploit-db. This is a database maintained by offensive security that has a bunch of pre made scripts for hacking.
The second reason you want to be able to code is so you can create your own custom scripts. Generally, this will be more useful once you have more experience hacking computers, because you’re going to need to understand exactly what you need the computer to do. But once you do have that knowledge at that point it’s useful to know how to create your own scripts that do exactly what you need to do and how you want it done. If you’re interested in learning this, there’s a good course on udemy that gets you started writing scripts in python for hacking computers. In addition to this you can also search on youtube to see other walkthroughs of people writing their own scripts.
What programming languages are typically used by hackers?
There are no set programming languages that can be used when hacking computers, but there are some ones that are more common than others:
Python: This is the most popular all around language for anything related to cybersecurity. It’s a security professionals programming language of choice and a good one to start with.
PHP: This language isn’t as popular as it once was but there are still many applications and scripts that are written in PHP. Therefore, it’s still very useful to be familiar with it. One big example of this wordpress, wordpress is written in PHP and supports millions of websites on the internet. Approximately 40% of all websites run on wordpress, which means they run on a PHP application.
C/C++: This language is very popular for memory based attacks such as a buffer overflow attack. C doesn’t have the same built in controls that other languages have, which means you can use it to perform some unique attacks. A buffer overflow takes advantage of the fact that the language doesn’t have built in memory control and purposely overwrites certain parts of memory in order to perform an attack.
Being able to code is not essential, especially for a beginner. But as you progress it will make it much easier and faster if you’re able to at least read and edit other people’s code. Most good hackers are able to read and write in multiple programming languages and that’s not a coincidence, it makes you much more effective. If you’re interested in learning coding for the reason of hacking I would not recommend you just learn general programming. I would suggest you spend the majority of your time looking up specific tutorials on how to create hacking tools in the programming languages I mentioned above. Obviously, you will need to understand the basics of a programming language but once you’re comfortable with that, start focusing as soon as possible.