Top Programming Languages for Hacking

by Awais Yaseen
best programming languages for hacking

Jump into the world of hacking and you’ll quickly realize that the key to success lies in mastering the right programming languages. As a budding hacker, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of coding technologies out there, each claiming to be the best for security breaches.

But fear not, this comprehensive guide will walk you through all the languages that are essential for cracking. Whether you’re looking to exploit vulnerabilities, reverse-engineer software, or penetrate networks, knowing the best language can make all the difference.

best programming languages for hacking

Most Popular Programming Languages for Hacking

Not all coding technologies are created equal when it comes to System manipulation. Some languages are better equipped for penetrating tasks due to their flexibility, power, and expansive libraries. Below is the hacking language list and detailed analysis.

Which Programming language is best for hacking?

According to ResearchGate, Python is the most popular language used by hackers. It was the most widely used tech stack in 2021.

1. Python

As a powerful scripting language, Python allows you to write concise and efficient code, making it ideal for creating hacking tools and automating various tasks.

Its extensive standard library provides ready-made modules for handling tasks such as networking, encryption, and web scraping, making it a go-to language for cyberpunks. The scripting capabilities enable them to automate repetitive tasks and conduct efficient penetration testing.

It can be integrated with other languages, allowing ethical geeks to use specialized tools or modules written in different languages. Its strong community support and abundance of third-party libraries, such as Scapy for network packet manipulation and Requests for HTTP requests, further enhance its suitability for system manipulation-related activities.

Although there are some disadvantages to using Python for cracking like compared to lower-level languages like C or C++, it may have slightly lower performance, which can be a consideration for certain resource-intensive tasks. Its code is relatively easy to read, which might be not a good thing when attempting to obfuscate code for security purposes.

/* simple Python script demonstrates a basic port scanning tool */

import socket

def scan_ports(target_ip, start_port, end_port):
    for port in range(start_port, end_port + 1):
        sock = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
        sock.settimeout(1)
        result = sock.connect_ex((target_ip, port))
        if result == 0:
           print(f"Port {port} is open")
        sock.close()

# Example usage:
target_ip = "192.168.1.1"
start_port = 1
end_port = 1024


scan_ports(target_ip, start_port, end_port)

2. JavaScript

Primarily known as a front-end web development language, its role in hacking should not be overlooked. JavaScript has become increasingly important in the security landscape, particularly in the context of web application security.

The Node.js runtime allows JavaScript to be used for server-side scripting, enabling attackers to manipulate servers and execute malicious code.

Potential Uses

  • Web Application Security: Can be employed to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in web applications. Ethical crackers may use JS to test for cross-site scripting (XSS) or other client-side security issues.
  • Browser Exploitation: In some cases, it might be used to create proof-of-concept exploits for browser vulnerabilities or analyze the security of browser extensions.
  • Security Research: Useful for studying and understanding vulnerabilities in JavaScript-based technologies, such as Node.js or Electron.

Advantages

  • Widespread Adoption: Relevant for testing and securing web applications, which are common targets for penetration testing.
  • Dynamic Analysis: It allows for dynamic analysis of web pages, making it possible to manipulate the Document Object Model (DOM) and analyze responses from web servers.

Disadvantages

  • Client-Side Limitation: Primarily operates on the client side, which limits its capabilities for network-level attacks that ethical geeks may need to perform.
  • Limited Access to System Resources: JS in a web browser operates in a sandboxed environment, restricting direct access to system resources for security reasons.
/* Simple Attack */

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<head>

  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <title>Sample Website</title>

</head>

<body>

<h1>Welcome to our website!</h1>
<p id="targetElement">This is a vulnerable website.</p>

<script>
  // Example of a simple XSS attack
  var maliciousCode = '<script>alert("XSS Attack!");</script>';
  document.getElementById('targetElement').innerHTML = maliciousCode;
</script>

</body>
</html>

3. C and C++

If you’re looking to delve into low-level programming and exploit system vulnerabilities, C and C++ are indispensable. These languages offer direct memory access and allow for fine-grained control over hardware, making them well-suited for creating rootkits, writing buffer overflow exploits, and conducting reverse engineering activities.

C and C++ are commonly used in writing security tools and frameworks due to their speed and efficiency, making them essential for advanced Network exploitation operations.

However, memory management complexity and the learning curve make them a little difficult choice.

/* Buffer Overflow Vulnerability */

#include <stdio.h>

#include <string.h>

void vulnerable_function(char *input) {

    char buffer[50];
    strcpy(buffer, input);
    printf("Input received: %s\n", buffer);

}

int main(int argc, char **argv) {

    if (argc != 2) {
       printf("Usage: %s <input>\n", argv[0]);
       return 1;

}

vulnerable_function(argv[1]);

return 0;

}

Web-Centric Languages for Hacking

To effectively hack into web systems, it is essential to have a good understanding of web-centric coding tech stacks and their potential security implications. Let’s explore the security aspects of PHP and SQL, and how they can be manipulated for hacking purposes.

1. PHP

PHP is a server-side scripting language that is widely used for web development. It is known for its flexibility and ease of integration with web applications. However, from a security standpoint, PHP can be vulnerable to several attacks, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and remote code execution. Its scripts can be created to automate penetration tests, checking for common vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in web servers and applications.

To mitigate these security risks, it is important to always validate and sanitize user inputs, use prepared statements for database queries, and keep the PHP version up to date to patch any known security vulnerabilities.

Advantages of PHP

  • Web-Focused: Well-suited for assessing and securing web applications, making it a valuable tool for focusing on web security.
  • Rapid Development: Allows for quick development and testing of scripts, which can be beneficial for time-sensitive black hat hacking tasks.

Disadvantages of PHP

  • Limited to Web Applications: Primarily designed for web development, so its application in other areas of white hat hacking may be limited.
  • Not Ideal for Low-Level Exploits: It may not be the best choice for developing low-level exploits or tools requiring direct system access.
<?php

// Example of a PHP script with a SQL injection vulnerability

$userid = $_GET['userid']; // User-supplied input (vulnerable)

// Simulate a SQL query with inadequate input validation

$query = "SELECT * FROM users WHERE userid = '$userid'";
$result = mysqli_query($conn, $query);

// Process the query result (not shown for brevity)

?>

2. SQL

SQL is a standard language for accessing and manipulating databases. Crackers use SQL injection techniques to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in web applications by manipulating SQL queries. It is used to assess the security of databases by checking for misconfigurations, weak authentication, and other vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers may use it to extract sensitive information from databases as part of security assessments.

To prevent SQL injection, it is important to use parameterized queries, input validation, and proper error handling. Additionally, implementing proper access controls and minimizing the use of dynamic SQL queries can help reduce the risk of SQL injection attacks.

Advantages of SQL

  • Common Web Vulnerability: SQL injection is a prevalent web vulnerability, making it valuable for assessing web application security.
  • Powerful Query Language: Provides a powerful and standardized language for interacting with relational databases.

Disadvantages of SQL

  • Legal and Ethical Considerations: Unauthorized or malicious use of SQL injection techniques can lead to legal consequences and ethical concerns.
  • Limited Scope: Mainly applicable to database-related security testing and may not cover other aspects of social engineering.
<?php

// Example of a PHP script with a SQL injection vulnerability in a login form

if ($_SERVER["REQUEST_METHOD"] == "POST") {

    $username = $_POST['username']; // User-supplied input (vulnerable)
    $password = $_POST['password']; // User-supplied input (vulnerable)

    // Simulate a SQL query with inadequate input validation in a login scenario

    $query = "SELECT * FROM users WHERE username = '$username' AND password = '$password'";
    $result = mysqli_query($conn, $query);

    // Check if the query returned a matching user

   if (mysqli_num_rows($result) > 0) {
       echo "Login successful!";
   } else {
       echo "Login failed. Please check your username and password.";
   }
}
?> */

Scripting Languages for Hacking

Let’s take a look at some scripting technologies that can be incredibly useful for cracking and penetration testing. These languages are specifically designed to automate tasks and interact with system processes, making them an essential tool for cyberpunks.

1. Bash and Shell Scripting

Bash and shell scripting are fundamental to any hacker’s toolkit. The ability to write and execute shell scripts gives you the power to automate repetitive tasks, manipulate files and directories, and even interact with the operating system at a low level. With Bash, you can quickly and efficiently execute commands, chain them together using pipelines, and create complex scripts to automate various tasks.

Use Cases

  1. Automated Scanning and Enumeration: Bash scripts can be used to automate network scanning, service enumeration, and information-gathering tasks.
  2. Exploit Automation: Shell scripts can automate the execution of known exploits or vulnerability assessments, streamlining the exploiting process.
  3. Configuration Management: Shell scripting is valuable for configuring and securing systems, ensuring they meet security standards.

Advantages of Bash and Shell

  • Scripting Flexibility: Bash and shell scripts provide flexibility in automating repetitive tasks, saving time and effort during white hat phishing activities.
  • System Integration: These scripts can integrate with various system commands and utilities, allowing ethical hackers to perform a wide range of operations.

Disadvantages of Bash and Shell

  • Platform Dependencies: Bash and shell scripts may have dependencies on specific platforms, potentially limiting their portability across different operating systems.
  • Limited to System-Level: While powerful for system-level tasks, Bash and shell scripts may not be suitable for high-level application security testing.
#!/bin/bash

# Example Bash script for network scanning

echo "Enter target IP address:"
read target_ip

echo "Scanning target: $target_ip"
nmap -sP $target_ip 

2. Ruby

Known for its simplicity and flexibility. It has a rich set of libraries and frameworks that make it a great choice for hacking and penetration testing. Its clean and readable syntax makes it easy to write and maintain scripts, and its object-oriented nature allows for the creation of sophisticated tools and utilities.

Advantages

  • Readability and Expressiveness: Has a clean and expressive syntax, making it easy to read and write, which can enhance the development speed.
  • Rich Ecosystem: Has a rich ecosystem of libraries and frameworks, making it versatile for different exploitative programming tasks.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Allowing scripts to be executed on different operating systems without major modifications.

Disadvantages

  • Performance: Compared to lower-level languages, Ruby might have performance drawbacks in resource-intensive tasks.
  • Less Prevalent in Certain Areas: May be less commonly used in some specific areas of security breaching compared to languages like Python.
#Example Ruby script for network scanning

puts "Enter target IP address:"
target_ip = gets.chomp

puts "Scanning target: #{target_ip}"
system("nmap -sP #{target_ip}")

Languages for Specialized Hacking Scenarios

Time to delve into the niche languages that cater to specific hacking scenarios:

1. Assembly Language

It is a low-level coding language that directly corresponds to machine code. Fundamental for writing exploits, reverse engineering, and shellcoding. Exploiting scenarios that require intimate control over hardware or software at a very basic level often call for Assembly language.

Advantages

  • Low-Level Control: Provides direct control over the hardware and low-level system resources, making it suitable for certain exploitation scenarios.
  • Efficiency: Its code can be highly efficient in terms of execution speed and memory usage, which is crucial in some specialized information breaching tasks.

 Disadvantages

    • Steep Learning Curve: Has a steep learning curve, and writing and understanding assembly code requires a deep understanding of computer architecture.
    • Platform-Specific: Its code is often platform-specific, and a different version may be required for each architecture, limiting portability.
//example of x86 assembly code that illustrates a buffer overflow vulnerability 

section .data
  buffer db 64 dup(0)    ; Buffer to hold user input

section .text
  global _start

_start:
  ; Read user input into the buffer
  mov eax, 3            ; Syscall number for sys_read
  mov ebx, 0            ; File descriptor 0 (stdin)
  mov ecx, buffer       ; Pointer to the buffer
  mov edx, 64           ; Maximum number of bytes to read
  int 0x80              ; Invoke the system call

  ; Display the user input
  mov eax, 4            ; Syscall number for sys_write
  mov ebx, 1.           ; File descriptor 1 (stdout)
  mov ecx, buffer       ; Pointer to the buffer
  mov edx, 64           ; Number of bytes to write
  int 0x80              ; Invoke the system call
  
  ; Exit the program
  mov eax, 1            ; Syscall number for sys_exit
  xor ebx, ebx          ; Exit code 0
  int 0x80              ; Invoke the system call */

2. Lua

Lua is a lightweight, high-level scripting language that is often used for hacking game engines, writing exploit scripts, and automating tasks in security assessments. Its simplicity and flexibility make it an attractive choice for rapid prototyping and quick exploitation.

Advantages of Lua in Ethical Hacking:

  • Lightweight and Fast: Known for its lightweight design and fast execution, it is suitable for scenarios where resource efficiency is essential.
  • Embeddable: Easy to embed within other applications and systems, allowing it to be integrated into diverse environments.

Disadvantages of Lua in Ethical Hacking:

  • Limited Ecosystem for Security Tools: Compared to languages like Python, it has a smaller ecosystem for security tools and libraries.
  • Not Widely Used in Certain Ethical Hacking Contexts: In many scenarios, other languages may be more prevalent and established, reducing the need for Lua.
-- Example Lua script for network scanning using LuaSocket
-- Load the LuaSocket library

socket = require("socket")


-- List of target IP addresses and ports to scan

targets = {
    {ip = "192.168.1.1", ports = {80, 443}},
    {ip = "192.168.1.2", ports = {22, 8080}}
}

-- Function to perform the network scan

function networkScan(target)
    print("Scanning target: " .. target.ip)

    for _, port in ipairs(target.ports) do
        local client = socket.connect(target.ip, port)
        if client then
            print("Port " .. port .. " is open")
            client:close()
        else
           print("Port " .. port .. " is closed")
           end
        end
end

-- Perform the network scan for each target

for _, target in ipairs(targets) do
    networkScan(target)
end

Modern Languages for Hacking

Staying updated with modern tech stacks is crucial to keep up with the evolving cybersecurity landscape. Modern languages are designed with security in mind, making them ideal for system breaching and penetration testing.

1. Go (Golang)

It has gained popularity in the cybersecurity community due to its efficiency, performance, and strong built-in support for concurrency. The simplicity and focus on readability make it an ideal language for building secure and reliable systems. Its standard library provides comprehensive support for cryptography, making it a preferred choice for developing secure network applications and tools. Go allows for easy cross-compilation, enabling the development of tools that can run on various operating systems.

Advantages of GoLang in Ethical Hacking:

  • Performance: The compiled nature and focus on performance make it suitable for resource-intensive tasks.
  • Conciseness and Readability: Promotes clean and readable code, facilitating maintainability and collaboration in data breaching projects.
  • Static Binaries: Produces statically linked binaries, simplifying the distribution and execution of tools without external dependencies.

Disadvantages of GoLang in Ethical Hacking:

  • Smaller Ecosystem for Security Tools: Ecosystem for security tools may be smaller compared to more established languages like Python.
  • Learning Curve: While it is relatively simple, there may be a learning curve for individuals unfamiliar with its syntax and concepts.
// basic network scanning task in Go

package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "net"
    "os/exec"
    "sync")

func main() {

    // Define the target IP range
    targetRange := "192.168.1.1-10"

   // Perform a TCP port scan on the target range
  fmt.Printf("Scanning ports on %s\n", targetRange)
  
  var wg sync.WaitGroup

  for port := 1; port <= 100; port++ {
      wg.Add(1)
      go func(p int) {
          defer wg.Done()

          address := fmt.Sprintf("%s:%d", targetRange, p)
          conn, err := net.Dial("tcp", address)

          if err == nil {
              fmt.Printf("Port %d is open\n", p)
              conn.Close()
          }
     }(port)
  }

  wg.Wait()
  fmt.Println("Scan complete.")
}

2. Rust

Rust is a systems programming language that focuses on safety, speed, and concurrency. It is known for preventing entire classes of bugs and vulnerabilities at compile time, making it a compelling choice for building secure and resilient software.

The memory safety features, such as ownership and borrowing, make it inherently resistant to memory-related vulnerabilities like buffer overflows and dangling pointers. Its strict compile-time checks ensure that the code is free from common security pitfalls, making it suitable for building secure and robust manipulating tools and exploits.

Advantages

  • Memory Safety: The ownership system ensures memory safety, reducing the likelihood of memory-related vulnerabilities like buffer overflows.
  • Concurrency without Data Races: Ownership system also enables safe concurrency without data races, which can be crucial in security-critical applications.
  • Performance: Offers performance comparable to languages like C and C++, making it suitable for resource-intensive tasks.

Disadvantages

  • Learning Curve: It has a steeper learning curve, especially for those unfamiliar with ownership and borrowing concepts, which might be challenging for beginners.
  • Ecosystem Size: Ecosystem for security tools and libraries may be smaller compared to more established languages in the security breachers community.
##basic network scanning task using the std::net and std::thread modules

use std::net::{TcpStream, SocketAddr};
use std::thread;

fn main() {
    // Define the target IP address and port range
    let target_ip = "192.168.1.1";
    let port_range = 1..=100;

    // Perform a TCP port scan on the target IP
    println!("Scanning ports on {}", target_ip);

    let handles: Vec<_> = port_range.map(|port| {
        let target_ip = target_ip.to_string();
        thread::spawn(move || {
            let address: SocketAddr = format!("{}:{}", target_ip, port).parse().unwrap();
            match TcpStream::connect(address) {
                Ok(_) => println!("Port {} is open", port),
                Err(_) => (),
            }
        })
    }).collect();

    for handle in handles {
        handle.join().unwrap();
    }

    println!("Scan complete.");
}

Roadmap to Become an Expert Hacker

  1. Engage with essential resources and communities.
  2. Utilize books, online courses, and tutorials covering languages like Python and C.
  3. Recommended reads include “The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook” and “Gray Hat Hacking.”
  4. Participate in forums like StackOverflow, GitHub, and Reddit for knowledge exchange.
  5. Explore platforms like Hack Forums and Null Byte for tools and techniques.
  6. Gain credibility with certifications like CEH, OSCP, and CompTIA Security+, as well as specialized programming certifications.
  7. Elevate your skills and stay updated in the vast and dynamic community.

Final Verdict

With this in mind, it’s clear that the ability to effectively hack and protect systems is heavily reliant on the programming languages being used. If you are new to coding and want to become a cyberpunk then go with Python. If you are an experienced programmer then you can choose any language according to your needs and plan.

Keep Learning

Frequently Asked Queries

Why is it important to learn programming languages for hacking?

Learning them is crucial for understanding the underlying systems and networks, as well as for developing tools and scripts to identify and mitigate security vulnerabilities.

Which is the most used programming language by black hat hackers?

It’s challenging to pinpoint a single most-used coding language by black hat hackers, as they may employ a variety of languages based on the specific task. The choice often depends on the target system, the nature of the attack, and the hacker’s expertise in a particular tech stack.

How many programming languages do hackers know?

The number varies widely. Skilled hackers typically have proficiency in multiple languages. The extent of their knowledge depends on their specialization, the nature of their activities, and the systems they target.

What are some recommended coding languages for beginner hackers?

It’s recommended to start with versatile and beginner-friendly computing languages such as:

  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby
  • C and C++

Which programming languages for game hacking?

  1. C++: Widely used for creating game hacks due to its performance and low-level capabilities.
  2. C#: Popular for developing cheats and hacks, especially for games built on the Unity game engine.
  3. Assembly (ASM): Essential for low-level manipulation and understanding game internals.

Is coding enough for hacking?

While proficiency in programming helps hackers understand and exploit vulnerabilities, knowledge of networking, operating systems, cybersecurity principles, and ethical considerations is also essential.

Is hacking hard to learn?

Is HTML important for hacking?

Do hackers use Java?

What are the 7 types of hackers?

Can a 12 year old learn to hack?

Can I learn hacking by myself?