The Most Useful Programming Languages for Ethical Hacking ONLC Training Centers

Ethical hacking refers to the practice where a skilled computer professional tries to hack into software and security systems. They do so for the purpose of detecting flaws and gaps where unethical hackers could gain access or exploit weak points. This helps strengthen security and is a common practice employed by most organizations as part of their overall security plan.

Ethical hackers use different programming languages while trying to ferret out security holes. There may be different layers that make up a complete software system, so a hacker might have to employ more than one language to thoroughly expose weaknesses in the different layers. Let’s discuss some of the most popular languages used by ethical hackers in their white-hat crusade to thwart the efforts of black-hat hackers.

Assembly Language

This low-level programming language is very complicated. If you want to reverse engineer a piece of software that has already been compiled, Assembly is the tool of choice. Assembly will even let you manipulate hardware through the use of drivers, which are the pieces of code used to give hardware instructions.

This could include printer, display or network drivers as well as peripherals. Think keyloggers, where software can intercept each keystroke at the port where the keyboard is plugged into your computer and then send those messages to an outside source. Anything that gets typed on that keyboard can be used for any number of nefarious purposes.

HTML and Javascript

If you want to be an ethical hacker of web pages and applications, then you will most likely need to know some HTML and JavaScript. HTML governs the appearance and organization of the web page and is considered a markup language rather than a programming language.

However, with Javascript, you can manipulate the HTML to do almost anything from changing the way pages look to making your own AJAX calls behind the scene to gain access to the web server. If you gain access to the web server, then you can gain access to the entire network and the possibilities are endless after that point.

PHP, Java, C# or VB.NET

As mentioned above, HTML and Javascript can be used when trying to hack from the client side of a web-based application. After you gain access to the web server, you might need to know PHP, Java, C#  which are some examples of server-side programming languages.

These languages accept input from the user interface, which is constructed with HTML and Javascript, and then use the data input to do things on the server such as talk to other servers, store the data in a database, or perform a myriad of other functions. Once you get on the server, the sky’s the limit as to the other things you can access and the functions you can perform.

SQL (Structured Query Language)

SQL is used to perform tasks in databases. It’s used to store, retrieve and query data. This is a very important language to learn if you plan on finding exploits that can be carried out at the database level, such as SQL Injection Attacks. Most software is written for the purpose of gathering some type of data. If its purpose isn’t to directly gather data, then at a minimum it will need some type of data to be able to do its job.

Data must be guarded at all costs, so this is one of the most important languages that you can learn. Also, SQL is used by the most popular database software engines in use today such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and MySQL.


System Administrators use Perl for all types of reasons. Perl is a scripting language that can be written to handle a wide range of functionality. It’s used by System Administrators and Network Programmers mainly to perform network routing operations. This language is useful if you hack into a server and then need to find and reach out to other network sources. You can also augment existing scripts to send copies of information to different locations than they were intended to facilitate information theft. Perl is the Swiss Army Knife of programming languages, so it is an important skill to master for hackers.


Python is probably the most popular high-level programming language used by hackers. It is object-oriented, which makes it faster to write. It has a built-in framework that can be used to describe real-world objects. Python has a simple structure that reads very much like normal English, which allows it to be learned very quickly. It is also a strong scripting language, has rich library support, and has a very supportive community of open source developers that evolve and strengthen the language.

All of these languages can be easily learned with the right training from a certified IT training company, like ONLC. At ONLC we have over 300 learning locations around the country offering classes in many different programming languages. Interested in learning more about starting your ethical hacking career or adding to your IT education? Contact us today!

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