Do Hackers Really Need Coding Skills? Let’s Understand . . .

D3athCod3
3 min readJul 2, 2024

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When I was working last week, one of my friend asked me if, as a hacker, he should learn programming or not. Some of my old students and other community members have asked me this question before too. It was a long conversation, and I told him why or why not a hacker needs to learn any programming languages. This question might come to your mind too when you start your hacking career or are planning to start your career as a hacker. So let’s understand if a hacker needs coding skills or not.

Understanding Hacking

You all have heard or seen in some movies a shady character sitting in front of computer and doing lots of shady work in just a few clicks. That’s not a hacker, you know :) That’s not how hacking works in the real world. Performing a single task can take a lot of skills and time.

In simple terms, a hacker is someone who uses their knowledge and skills to explore, understand, and manipulate computer systems, networks, and software. This can involve finding and fixing security weaknesses, creating or modifying software and scripts, and sometimes breaking into systems to test their defenses.

Role Of Programming in Hacking

So, let’s start with the main topic of this article: what’s the role of programming in hacking and where a hacker needs to use their coding skills? Or what if a hacker doesn’t have coding skills?

Where Hackers Use Their Programming Skills

  • Creating Custom Tools: There are many free and paid tools available for security tasks, but they can be noisy and easy for defenders to detect. With programming skills, you can create your own quiet, effective tools to bypass security.
  • Automating Repetitive Tasks: During hacking, you’ll often encounter repetitive tasks that take a lot of time if done manually. Programming skills let you automate these tasks, saving you time and reducing stress.
  • Reviewing Code: Some hacking tasks involve looking at thousands of lines of code to understand how a program works and find weaknesses. Without programming skills, this task can be very difficult.
  • Developing Exploits: Hackers sometimes need to create code to exploit software vulnerabilities. To do this, knowing a programming language is essential.
  • Solving Unique Challenges: Programming skills allow hackers to create solutions for unique or new security problems that existing tools can’t solve.

Above are some main ways a hacker uses their coding skills to handle security tasks. Hackers also use coding for many other tasks, like reverse engineering software, cracking encryption, or solving cryptography challenges etc.

Don’t be a Script Kiddie!

Many students believe that using existing tools or copying someone else’s code can improve their hacking skills. But does it really work? Just running code without understanding how it works won’t make you a hacker. If you don’t grasp what the tool does behind the scenes, you’ll miss out on crucial knowledge that could cause problems later on.

For instance, take the scanning tool Nmap, widely used for tasks like checking open ports on a network. If you don’t know how Nmap determines which ports are open or closed, simply running its commands won’t make you a skilled hacker.

Conclusion

I recommend all students pursuing a career in hacking to learn a programming language if you haven’t already. You’ll appreciate it later. Python is a good choice — it’s easy to learn and can handle all the tasks mentioned if you don’t want to deep dive in low level languages. I’m also writing a free series called Offensive Rust For Hackers if you’re interested in learning Rust.

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D3athCod3

D3athCod3 is a CTF team dedicated to honing and showcasing top-tier cybersecurity skills.