Top 7 Programming Languages for Ethical Hacking

Cyber security risks are on the rise for businesses globally, including IT outages, data breaches, ransomware attacks, malware attacks, phishing, and so on. Almost every industry is getting hit by cyber attacks, causing huge losses for businesses. 

With the situation getting more severe with each passing year, demands for security analysts and ethical hackers are increasing in every industry. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a 35% increase in demand for these professionals between 2021 and 2031. 

You will be surprised to know that ethical hacking programming languages are the same as those used by malicious hackers. Ethical hackers must know the latest IT security methods and any programming language used by hackers and attackers. They also need to know some particular ethical hacking language to make a successful career as an ethical hacker.

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Understanding what is ethical hacking

Before we discuss ethical hacking programming languages, it is crucial to know and understand what ethical hacking is in the first place. In simple terms, ethical hacking is a kind of preventive medicine that is proactive by nature. 

Both ethical hacking and malicious hacking bring out weaknesses in a system’s network. With strong programming and coding skills, cybercriminals steal and change confidential information, break safety protocols and wreak havoc overall. 

While malicious hackers unethically access systems, Ethical hackers, on the contrary, look for vulnerabilities and weaknesses through system intrusion so that they can make the system more secure and safe. It is possible to prevent cyber attacks, data breaches, and malicious software downloads with ethical hacking. 

The Importance of Ethical Hacking Languages for Ethical Hacking

It is imperative for ethical hackers to have a thorough knowledge of various programming languages for analyzing different codes and making necessary modifications. The languages help in error identification in applications and automate time-consuming jobs. 

The programming language used by hackers for ethical hacking will depend on the target platforms and computer systems. Ethical hacking programming languages are platform-dependent and used for specific operating systems. However, some languages, like JavaScript, are cross-platform and can be used on different systems. 

Ethical hackers must actively participate in various hacking forums to keep up with the latest ethical hacking trends. Learning to develop open-source programs is also an added advantage for professionals. 

Top 7 ethical hacking programming languages that ethical hackers must know

Did you know that the best ethical hacking languages are the ones that cyber criminals use? Though this might stun you, it is true!

Let us take a look at the best programming language used by hackers for ethical hacking:

1. SQL

SQL is a favourite programming language among ethical hackers. Relational databases use SQL to insert, query, delete and update information. Malicious hackers use this programming language to steal sensitive data, restrict queries and assist web-based attacks. For instance, SQL injection is a common database-related attack. Understanding SQL helps database administrators and developers can significantly help prevent database attacks. 

Malicious hackers exploit SQL injection vulnerabilities to access data by bypassing app security like login, etc. An expert and experienced, the ethical hacker knows to use different solutions like whitelisting input validation, binding variables and escaping. 

2. Python 

When it comes to the most popular ethical hacking programming languages, Python tops the list without a doubt. One of the biggest advantages of Python is that it is dynamic, easy to learn, and easy to use. Python is a general-purpose language for writing automation scripts and testing corporate servers’ integrity. The language also powers Scapy, a popular and robust cybersecurity tool. 

Ethical hackers use Python extensively for malware analysis, reverse engineering and forensics, along with easily available disassemblers, debuggers and hex editors. Prominent reasons contributing to Python’s popularity include syntax simplicity and the many ready-made modules. Moreover, Python has a huge community to which ethical hackers can refer in case they get stuck somewhere. 


By default, Linux and UNIX operating systems come with Bourne Again Shell (BASH) and Shell (SH). These shells offer a list of commands for hackers to gain access to data. Bash lets hackers carry out job control and interactive line editing, with similarity in features with C Shell. 

Bash helps with navigation through various directories for performing network configurations, automating repetitive jobs and job control on supporting architectures. This programming language used by hackers helps in manipulating the system for good. Ethical hackers can make their way through complicated and complex systems with strong security through this programming language. 

Using some ethical hacking tools like NMAP, Armitage, and Metasploit needs a solid knowledge of Bash. 

4. Java 

Java is regarded as the most common ethical hacking language that ethical hackers use. In fact, it is also one of the most widely used programming languages globally. Java is an object-oriented, class-based programming language for enterprise software, application development and scientific computing applications. Extensive use of Java is evident in programming hardware devices, data analytics, server-side technologies, etc. 

The programming language is highly reliable for ethical hacking and tracking future risks, making it a leading one. Since it is a cross-platform programming language, ethical hackers deploy Java on different operating systems, including Linux, Windows and Mac. For developing hacking programmes for Android, having knowledge of Java is mandatory. 

5. PHP

Ethical hackers find PHP one of the most helpful programming languages for combating malicious hacking practices. PHP is a server-side scripting language where the codes impact the server and do not build doubts or hints for the host. PHP is widely used for website building. But today, many ethical hackers are using this straightforward, open-source language for ethical hacking.

Some attributes of PHP which help ethical hackers work on security systems easily are that this programming language is procedural, functional imperative, multi-paradigm and object-oriented. PHP programming language makes server hacking programmes easier. Ethical hackers can easily spot errors and malfunctioning websites and work on them accordingly. 

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6. Perl

Perl has developed as a promising programming language used by hackers to assist the ethical bunch. Initially designed for text manipulation, Perl now offers many benefits. The dynamic approach of Perl enables exploit-writing. The programming language aids in manipulating Linux text files and creating tools and exploits. Perl helps in creating tools like onesixtyone, snmpenum, Nikto and fierce.

Ethical hackers use Perl to create tools and exploits for mimicking real-world attacks and penetration testing. These tests play a role in identifying the various ways in which malicious hackers breach security by locating the vulnerable areas of the network, system or app. 

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7. C

C is the programming language you go to when you target the RAM or similar low-level components in the system. This programming language digs into the security systems offering protection to hardware and other resources. It is also a great language for creating fast socket-programming scripts. 

C simulates a library hijacking attack, a successful attack by an ethical hacker. C is the base for learning LINUX or UNIX platforms. This general-purpose language helps in accessing hardware data and also creates shellcodes. C is useful in ethical hacking for its amazing speed. Ethical hackers can access, evaluate and rectify the problems in the system with C programming language. 

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Hacking is a complex process where a single strategy doesn’t work for all situations. Ethical hackers who know ethical hacking programming languages can help tackle myriad hacking issues. With knowledge and implementation of the proper ethical hacking language, it is possible to prevent hacking attacks and protect the systems and networks from further damage. To become a successful professional, ethical hacker, it is essential to have in-depth knowledge of the programming language used by hackers

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The cyber security industry is growing significantly across the globe. If you want to gain a foothold in the industry, it is important to take a professional course. upGrad offers Advanced Certificate Programme in Cyber Security under IIIT-B to transform learners into cybersecurity experts. The course’s cutting-edge curriculum helps you gain theoretical and practical knowledge of in-demand skills. Designed for working professionals, this course offers one-to-one career mentorship sessions with experienced and eminent cybersecurity experts. 

The top subjects the course covers include Data Secrecy, Network Security, Application Security, Cryptography, and so on. The course also covers various libraries, programming languages and tools like Radar, KaliLinux, Owaspwa, Wire Shark, Snort, etc. 

Candidates learn through assignments, case studies, and real-life industry projects. 

Apply now for the online course and make a great career as an ethical hacker! 

Is Python popular among ethical hacking programming languages?

Yes, Python is one of the ethical hackers' most popular programming languages. Ethical hackers test security assessment processes like malware analysis and other vulnerabilities with this language. This ethical hacking language is excellent for expediting scripting, data analysis, scanning process and task automation.

Why do ethical hackers need to know programming languages?

Professionals who do ethical hacking must have the mindset and the skills of a malicious hacker. Therefore it becomes imperative that ethical hackers must know the programming languages used by hackers. Along with knowledge of programming languages, an ethical hacker should know about various security tools too.

What are the job opportunities after completing the Advanced Certificate Programme in Cyber Security?

On completing the Advanced Certificate Programme in Cyber Security, you can grab job roles including - a. Cyber Security Engineer, b. Cyber Security Expert, c. Application Security Engineer, d. Cybersecurity Analyst, e. Network Security Engineer, etc.

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