A Guide to Coding for Cybersecurity

A Guide to Coding for Cybersecurity

Many people are drawn to the exciting field of cybersecurity as a new generation enters the high-tech workplace.

The prospect of being at the forefront of today’s war on cybercriminals, combined with the industry’s overall skills shortage, attracts some of the best and brightest.

This industry’s relatively high pay also contributes to its success. Because of the fierce competition for these cybersecurity jobs, newcomers must arrive with the most up-to-date technological skills. To remain active in their professions, industry veterans must also continue their education.

According to a study released in April 2019 by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), 93 percent of cybersecurity professionals agree that “Cybersecurity professionals must keep up with their skills or their organizations will be at a major disadvantage against today’s cyber-adversaries.” A lack of skillset would make it difficult to find and hold the most sought-after cybersecurity positions.

“For the third year in a row, a majority (63 percent) of ISSA members do not believe their employer provides the cybersecurity team with the appropriate level of training,” according to the same survey. This is a clear sign that developing and retaining applicable cybersecurity skills must be done at one’s own time and expense.

Computer programming is a fundamental component of the field of computer science. Data security is built on the basis of computer science.

If you’re training for a job as a SOC analyst, network engineer, malware analyst, threat intelligence expert, network security architect, or some other cybersecurity role, you’ll need to know how to program.

The secrets of how a machine hack operates can be unraveled with knowledge of a programming language. A security professional would frequently need to review the digital evidence left behind in order to figure out how an intruder successfully compromised a device. Understanding the terminology used to produce the weapon in question is required to make sense of this proof.

At least one object-oriented programming language should be learned by cybersecurity practitioners. While mastering several languages is preferable, a strong understanding of one will help in the comprehension of many others.

There are an estimated 250 common computer programming languages in use worldwide, with up to 700 total. The ten most important computer programming languages for cybersecurity professionals are listed below.

Since these are the languages most widely used by cybercriminals, having a clear understanding of them would give security professionals who are fluent in one or more of them a major advantage over those who are not. This list and the details that go with it should be used by cybersecurity practitioners to see if their programming skills are up to date and to plot a path for further education.

The popularity of a programming language, especially among bad actors, is a good indicator of whether a security professional should spend time and money studying it.

The TIOBE Index for December 2019 includes nine of the ten programming languages mentioned in this guide as being especially useful for cybersecurity professionals. The TIOBE Programming Community Index is a measure of programming language popularity. These languages are listed below in order of popularity as compared to one another.

It’s worth noting that this guide covers both C and C++, while the TIOBE popularity index did not. Lisp is the only language not included in the index’s top 20 list of common languages.

Understanding Java

Java, as the most widely used programming language for programmers in general, has a lot to offer cybersecurity programmers. If a coder’s emphasis is on computer or mobile device software creation rather than web applications, learning and retaining knowledge of the Java programming language is likely to increase their employability. Java is a general-purpose programming language with a low number of implementation dependencies. The concept is to allow developers to write once and run anywhere (WORA). Java code that has been compiled can run on any platform that supports Java without the need to recompile it. It’s one of the most common programming languages today, and it’s structured similarly to C and C++.

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Despite past and current legal battles between Oracle (the self-proclaimed steward of Java technology) and Google, Java is an important component of the Android mobile operating system (main contributor and commercial marketer of Android).

Since Java is so commonly used, it is crucial for security professionals. According to various industry reports, Java is installed on over 95% of corporate desktops and 88 percent of all computers in the United States.

The similarities between C/C++ and Java make it a natural proficiency to add for those already experienced in the former. A C/C++ programmer who wants to improve their cybersecurity resume should also learn Java.

C/C++

Dennis Ritchie designed the C programming language at Bell Labs between 1972 and 1973, and it is currently one of the most important programming languages for cybersecurity professionals to learn. Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++ as an extension of the C programming language. It is basically an update to the C programming language, which is often referred to as “C with Classes.” The C or C++ programming languages are used by millions, if not billions, of computers around the world, including those running Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems. C++ is sometimes referred to as a single language, C/C++, since it is an extension of C.

The historical popularity of these languages drives the market for security professionals who are fluent in them. Since most malware is written in the C/C++ programming languages, it is widely agreed that knowing them is a must-have skill for cybersecurity professionals.

Since C/C++ is a lower-level language than Python or Java, it is more versatile in certain ways while also being more difficult to learn. Low-level programming languages have direct access to low-level infrastructures such as RAM and device processes. C/C++ is appealing to cybercriminals because of its low-level access, which makes it especially dangerous in their possession.

It’s worth noting that inexperienced adversaries, also known as script kids, seldom use C/C++. It can take years to learn these languages. Hackers with a good understanding of C/C++ and assembly language have a lot of insight into programs and how they handle memory.

C/C++ is also essential for reading and comprehending open source code, which often supports low-level system programs that are vital operating system components. For their operations, many black hats use and depend on open source code.

Learning Python

Python, a high-level scripting language, is gaining popularity among security professionals and hackers alike. It can be used to build desktop graphical user interface (GUI) apps, blogs, and web applications. Aficionados of the language maintain that, due to its large audience, it is the best option for inexperienced bad actors. The logic is that quick access to online support from a group of users will inevitably result in methods for a wide variety of exploitation that can be used for nefarious purposes.

Python is not comparable to C/C++ in terms of strength, information, and hardware exposure because it is a high-level language. The readability of the text, on the other hand, may provide a clear sense of the intended intent for Python code. Understanding this vocabulary is also beneficial to cybersecurity professionals.

Security teams can use Python to perform malware analysis, build intrusion detection systems, and submit TCP packets to machines without the use of third-party software thanks to an increasing number of libraries. This implies that they can efficiently create programs and automate work.

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What is JavaScript?

JavaScript (JS) is a high-level, just-in-time compiled, object-oriented programming language that is not to be confused with Java. One of the most important internet technology is JavaScript. It’s used by the vast majority of websites, and most web browsers have a dedicated JavaScript engine for it. Websites can now use animation and be interactive thanks to the use of JS.

Bad actors may use JavaScript to capture user feedback and browser data. Hackers may use JS to monitor data entered into a web form or use cookies to analyze browsing habits. It can be used to duplicate legitimate websites in order to redirect users in a phishing campaign using cross-site scripting.

These types of security flaws are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated. The subtle variations between the legitimate site and the imposter are becoming more difficult for users to spot.

Understanding JavaScript and its legitimate and nefarious applications can increase one’s employability in the field of cybersecurity. If a person’s primary focus is on websites or web applications, they should learn and retain their knowledge of JavaScript.

Understanding PHP

PHP is a popular open-source general-purpose server-side scripting language. Server-side code is used to dynamically view information on many large-scale websites. When data is required, it is retrieved from a server database and sent to the client for display.

The ability to create user-specific website content is perhaps the most notable advantage of server-side code. Dynamic websites highlight more appropriate content based on the user’s tastes and behaviors. It can also make websites more user-friendly by storing personal preferences and information, such as reusing previously stored credit card information to simplify subsequent payments.

PHP is used by millions of websites, including the 75 million or so WordPress blogs. According to some estimates, PHP powers 80% of the internet, including social networks like Facebook, although in a customized version. PHP has grown in popularity as a result of its features that make it simple to update a website. PHP’s user-friendliness also makes it more resistant to outside attacks. As a consequence, PHP is a crucial programming language to learn for those interested in working in cybersecurity.

DDoS (Denial of Service) attacks designed to cripple a website are one of the most popular hacking attempts on PHP-based sites.

PHP can be used by criminals to erase all of the data on a badly designed website. Knowing how to spot and fix these flaws in PHP code will help a company save its entire database.

PHP is likely the best option if a cybersecurity professional can only learn one language and there are no important determining factors, according to many cybersecurity bloggers.

Learning SQL

The Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language that is used to handle databases and extract data from them. A SQL query is a request for a database action to be performed. SQL injection (SQLi) is a common type of security exploit in which an attacker injects SQL code into a web form input box to obtain unauthorized access to resources or modify sensitive data. When properly implemented, an SQLi will reveal proprietary intellectual property, customer personal information, administrative credentials, or confidential business information.

SQL injection attacks can affect any program that uses a SQL database, but websites are the most popular target. MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server are examples of SQL databases. Cybercriminals can use SQL injection to create queries and gain access to almost any data they want. Passwords, bank account information, social security numbers, addresses, and other sensitive information can all be lost as a result of this.

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For cybersecurity professionals, knowing SQL, its legal uses, and how SQL injection is used to manipulate websites is important. One of the most serious risks to web application security is SQLi. The mastery of SQL would be extremely beneficial to both security defenders and pen-testers.

Apple’s Swift

Swift is a compiled programming language for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, Linux, and z/OS developed by Apple Inc. Swift is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language developed by Apple Inc. for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, Linux, and z/OS. It was first shown off at Apple’s 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference and went on sale in September of that year.

Swift is an interactive programming language that blends modern language thinking with Apple’s engineering wisdom and contributions from its open-source community.

Swift programming language is a good candidate for any cybersecurity practitioner to learn because of its rising popularity among legitimate and illegitimate programmers, as well as the fact that mobile devices are the single fastest-growing attack surface. This is particularly true for those working on Apple products and operating systems development and security.

Learning Ruby

Ruby is a high-level, interpreted programming language that can be used for a variety of purposes. Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto of Japan designed and produced it in the mid-1990s. Ruby has a syntax that is very similar to Perl and Python. It was written in the C programming language. Its ease of use and inherent ability to manage massive code projects are praised by frequent users. According to reports, Ruby is commonly used on websites including Airbnb, Hulu, Kickstarter, and Github.

Ruby is appealing to new programmers, and as a result, it is appealing to new hackers.

It’s advertised as being “fun to work with.” It is a very high-level language that handles the majority of the machine’s complicated data, allowing programs to be developed easily and with less code.

This simple-to-use and simple-to-learn programming language may be a useful addition to a cybersecurity resume.

Understanding Perl

Perl is a general-purpose programming language that was created for text manipulation but is now used for a variety of tasks such as system management, web creation, network programming, GUI development, and more. It is an interpreted language, which means that code can be run directly without having to go through a compilation stage, which would result in a non-portable executable program.

Perl is widely regarded as a simple to learn programming language. It borrows syntax from different programming languages, including C, and is not nearly as readable as Python. As a result, it is common among programmers who know those languages.

Perl is especially useful for security practitioners because it was used in a wide range of legacy computer systems. Although it is an older language and is often positioned as a competitor to Python, it is particularly useful for security practitioners because it was used in a wide range of legacy computer systems. Bad actors also threaten these same networks.

Learning Lisp

Lisp is the second-oldest high-level programming language in widespread use today, having been established in 1958. Just Fortran is one year older. Lisp is not a widely-used programming language since it is difficult for programmers to learn. However, it is extremely strong.

Lisp is not normally recommended as a first language for beginner programmers, but it is a good option for a seasoned programmer looking to add a powerful tool to their toolbox.

Legacy techniques like Lisp are considered to be used by advanced adversaries to build and execute complex attack tools. The ability to wield the language’s strength will provide cyber-defenders with the tools they need for defense-in-depth.

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