10 Best Programming Languages For Ethical Hacking In 2023

ethical hacking languages

Want to know more about the best programming languages for ethical hacking?

Okay, read along and you will find out exactly what these languages are. Be honest, when you talk about hacking, I know that the first thing that pops into your mind is probably clicking one button and hacking in to the entire internet. Right?

Get this, hackers actually spend a lot of time behind a computer working on various codes.

These codes then allow them to penetrate into the different fields that they want to hack. So, the most important step of becoming an ethical hacker is to learn the various programming languages.

Anyway, to be able to protect something, you must first learn what it is made up of. That is why in this article, I have collected the 10 best programming languages for ethical hacking that will help you be a great ethical hacker.

Along the way, we will also look at why different programming languages are an essential resource to an ethical hacker.

Now, let’s jump right in. First off, let’s start by defining what ethical hacking and hacking is.

What Is The Difference Between Hacking And Ethical Hacking?

Basically, hacking is the process where you find loopholes and vulnerabilities in a system, and you try to use them in completing a vicious intention.

While on the other hand, ethical hacking is the process performed by an organization to identify any potential threats that might be facing the computer systems… or the network. But, you could also say that hacking is performed for evil deeds while ethical hacking is done for the benefit of a certain organization.

So now that you know the difference between ethical hacking and hacking, let’s explore why different programming languages are an essential resource for an ethical hacker.

Why Are Different Programming Languages An Essential Resource For An Ethical Hacker?

1. Target System Working Nature

Believe it or not, before carrying out any exploit, you need to understand the working nature of the target system or the application.

Look at it this way, if the victim is a web system that was developed with Html, Javascript, or Python, prior knowledge of the three would be excellent. This will enable you to know just exactly what to look for and the type of exploits to execute.

2. Scripting 

Look, you will be writing scripts or malware which you will use on your victim.

Though there are scripts out there that perform attacks, you might need to also apply the skills you have just in case you find a script that doesn’t meet your expectations or requirements. Additionally, you might need to modify these scripts before you can actually use them.

Now, let’s get into the top programming languages used in ethical hacking.

1. Python

I’ll admit it.

It’s not a surprise that Python tops this list.

Python which is also referred to as the defacto hacking programming language is a dynamic, general-purpose programming language. Python is used for different purposes such as testing the integrity of corporate servers and writing automation scripts.

Well, the fact is that among all the programming languages used in ethical hacking, Python is that one programming language that will make you socially active amongst your other hacker friends. 

This is due to the fact that Python is popular.

First off, you should know that Python’s main feature is simplicity in syntax. Secondly, Python has a lot of ready-made modules that are readily available to you. For example, if you want to target the native OS, Python has a ready-made operating system that you could use.

Finally, Python is very popular, this means that it has a huge community. Now, this helps you in case you get stuck because you just have to ask and you will get the solution pretty easily.

For it’s worth, if you are a novice getting started with hacking, consider Python. If you want to learn Python, you should check out my article on the best Python courses on Coursera.

2. Java

Currently, Java is one of the most widely used programming languages that runs over so many devices, probably running even yours.

The slogan “write once, run everywhere” is used to show its cross-platform capabilities. Since Java is present everywhere, it’s not a surprise that it is used widely in hacking. Java is a class-based, object-oriented programming language that is designed to have a LOW implementation dependency.

Now, did you know that if you get a grip of Java, you can actually use it to reverse any application written by it?

Have you ever wondered how people could hack into your phone and read confidential information like messages, contacts, call logs, and even send messages via your phone? Well, most of these are Java payloads installed into a victim’s phone through social engineering.

Here is an example of an attack that was performed using Java.

The 2013 zero-day attack was on the internet explorer which targeted the zero-day vulnerability. Even though this was a reconnaissance step, it was actually intended to compromise the host in the future.

3. SQL

The Standard Query Language is a programming language that is used to organize, add, retrieve, remove, edit data in a database.

You can already see why SQL is one of the top programming languages for ethical hacking.

Learning SQL is very important because it is used for managing data in a database management system… or for stream processing in a data stream management system. Additionally, having excellent skills in SQL lets you understand the structure of a database and how it works.

With such information, your work will be simplified as you will know exactly what scripts or tools to deploy. But, you should also note that even though SQL is a programming language for hacking, it also acts as the doorkeeper that grants access to the database.

So you should learn the fundamentals of SQL or else you won’t be able to manipulate or steal data. To do this, you should check out my article on the best SQL courses on PluralSight so that you can learn more about SQL.

4. C++

Now, this is a high-level programming language that is widely used to hack or for reverse-engineering corporate software.

So if you have ever thought of cracking a corporate software, you should invest your time in having a good knowledge of C++. Just like the C programming language, this language gives you low-level access to system resources and analyzes the machine code of such software. With C++ you can bypass the activation scheme embedded in these applications.

Look, if you are into exploiting desktop software and reverse engineering them, C++ would be of great advantage to you.

Plus, with C++, you can perform the following functions:

  • Building your own malware that leaves no signature
  • Exploiting programs more efficiently
  • Build viruses 
  • Create your own exploits 

5. C

C programming which is also referred to as the mother of all programming languages is also a viral language in the hacking community.

Did you know that most of the operating systems that we have today run on a foundation of C language? Well, from Windows, Linux, to Unix kernel and its distributions, all run on a foundation of C language.

Even though C is a low-level programming language, it has the ability to easily manipulate and access hardware components such as RAM. This low-level nature gives it an added advantage over most languages. Now, you should note that C is known for writing extremely faster exploits that execute at a lower level of the system.

Apart from that, it is also known for getting access to resources like memory and system processes after performing an attack and compromising a system.

You also want to note that, C programming is an excellent resource in reverse engineering of software and applications. This enables hackers to understand the working nature of a system or an application.

6. JavaScript

What would you do if you had the ability to manipulate any type of web application?


Understanding Javascript is essential in your hacking journey. Now, for quite some time, Javascript was a client-side scripting language. But with the release of Node.js, javascript now supports back-end development and posing stiff competition to PHP.

But what does this mean to hackers?

Well, for you as a hacker, this means a broader field of exploitation.

Javascript is a widely-used programming language and is the most ideal language to build a web application. This language can help you explore both the front-end and back-end components of a web application, as some security experts use it for building both the front-end and the back-end.

Now, as a hacker, you can use javascript to:

  • Snoop the typed words
  • Track browsing history
  • Inject malicious code

Additionally, you can also use Javascript to spread and reproduce viruses and malware easily using XSS. An interesting example is when Twitter got infected with the stalkdaily worm. Well, this was possible by exploiting XSS.

7. PHP

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is an HTML embedded server-side scripting language designed to develop websites.

PHP is a dynamic programming language upon which CMS like WordPress and Drupal have been built. Since WordPress powers a huge number of websites, having a deep knowledge of PHP can help you protect or compromise these websites.

PHP can help perform object injection, which is an application-level vulnerability that gives you the authority to perform various tasks. 

Some of these malicious tasks include:

  1. SQL Injection: When you enter SQL in the web URL of the form fields, it affects the execution of SQL statements. 
  2. XSS: Cross-Site Scripting is an attack executed by entering some data to your website that includes client-side scripting.

8. Ruby

This is one of the best programming languages that has been used for exploitation for a very long time now.

Ruby is a web-focused programming language that is synthetically similar to Python and is amongst the top languages for hacking multi-purpose corporate systems. With Ruby, you can easily automate programs, and it also offers superior flexibility while writing exploits.

Some of the advantages of using Ruby include:

  • It is easier to write functional like codes and to chain commands.
  • Consistent Object Orientation
  • You can open a class with ease and simply add a method to it while having less coding and more clarity. 
  • Every method implicitly supports passing in an anonymous block.

Get this, one of the popular hacking tools that we have is the Metasploit penetration testing framework, that is actually founded by Ruby.

9. Perl

Even though Perl has lost the fame it once held, it still holds a functional space in the hacker community.

It is a family of two high-level, interpreted, and dynamic programming languages that were designed primarily for text editing. This language is like an old rusty weapon and still has a large sum of corporate tools occupied despite losing its charm.

Perl has integrated web-databases. So you can easily break into them if you are able to master it.

Perl being a generic language made for beginners, can signify two things: first, it results in the users having the ability to insert anything in it without any restrictions. Second, beginners can quickly start with the real work but that’s not to say that experts do not benefit from diving deep into Perl

10. Bash

Now, this programming language couldn’t miss in this list of the best programming languages for ethical hacking because it is a default command shell for Unix and all Linux distributions.

With that said, keep in mind that Linux powers most servers on the internet. Look, you can use bash with other programming languages like Python to enhance the functionality of your exploits or payloads.

For instance, you could write a Python code that wraps a Bash script. And once the Python code is run on a victim’s computer, it executes the Bash script automatically

Once you have gained access to a system, you will need to navigate through the different directories and even perform configurations to elevate your privileges on the network. And for this, you will require Bash knowledge.

Best Forensics Courses


If you want to become a professional ethical hacker, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one programming language

Surprisingly enough, hacking is more of an art than a science. And the simplest truth is that you need to have a good understanding of computer technology from networking, databases, etc. 

This is because different systems require different attack vectors and exploits.

I hope this article on the best programming languages for ethical hacking has given you insight into what different programming languages offer. And now you can decide which suits your hacking niche or the attack you want to carry out.

Finally, you should also be aware of the terms that ethical hackers use, for this head on to my other article and learn some of the most commonly used ethical hacking terminologies.

Have you used any of these programming languages to hack before?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lerma Gray

Lerma is our expert in online education with over a decade of experience. Specializing in e-learning and e-courses. She has reviewed several online training courses and enjoys reviewing e-learning platforms for individuals and organizations.

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