3 Scripting Languages Cybersecurity Professionals Must Know  

Not all cybersecurity jobs require employees to have a programming and scripting background. For many entry-level positions, a high level of knowledge in these fields are not required until they progress to a higher level of their career. Nevertheless, it is important for everyone working in the cybersecurity field to have a background understanding of programming and scripting as this allows employees to stay on top of hackers and newly developing exploitative tactics.  

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to equip readers new to scripting languages the foundational level of knowledge. This way, you will hopefully be aware of the basics and be able to decide which scripting language will be best for you to begin with. 

Scripting languages are something all cybersecurity professionals need to understand as this is important for conducting analysis of software for underlying vulnerabilities, security flaws and hidden malicious programs.  

What Exactly are Scripting Languages? 

Scripting languages are necessary components for creating online platforms to handle applications and for adding further advancements to a website. 

Scripting languages consist of instructions being written for a run-time environment to embed new functions and connect with other intricate systems or other programming languages.   

Uses of Scripting Languages  

Scripting languages are highly important and are used for multiple reasons such as: 

  • Web applications – Both server side and client side. 
  • System administration. 
  • Games application and multimedia.  
  • Creation of plugins and extensions for other applications and online platforms.  

Types of Scripting Language  

The two main types of scripting language are server-side and client-side. The two differ in terms of where exactly the code is run as this can affect the performance of the code, their effectiveness and the actual scripting language chosen. 

Server-Side Scripting Language  

Scripting languages which fall under this branch refer to those that are performed of a web server. These are carried out from back-end side and are invisible to the web users. For these reasons, scripting languages under this category are considered to be more secure. Examples of these languages include PHP, Python, Node.js, Perl and Ruby.  

The functions of these languages include creating: 

  • Websites and other online platforms. 
  • Platforms to handle user queries. 
  • Data to be shared with other users and devices. 

Client-Side Scripting Language  

Client-side scripting languages run of the user’s browser. Languages under this category are performed front-end and therefore, can be seen by the users. The use of these languages includes creating user interfaces and easier functionality.  

As these languages are run locally, the performance provided by them tend to be better. As a result of this, these languages are less straining for the server. Examples of these languages include HTML, CSS, jQuery and JavaScript.  

Scripting Languages vs Programming Languages  

Platform Specific vs Cross Platform   

Scripting languages are platform specific in contrast to programming languages which are platform agnostic or in other words, cross platform. Both can execute its functions by themselves.   

Interpreted vs Compiled  

Scripting languages are for the most part interpreted unlike programming languages, which are compiled. There are some scripting languages that need to be both compiled and interpreted.  

Compiled in this aspect means that a programming language is entered into its own compiler to be translated into a machine code before it is run by the device.  Scripting languages are interpreted by the interpreter of the platform, line by line. 

Running Time

Due to the differing methods of implementation, programming languages tend to function at a faster rate than scripting languages. This is because programming languages do not need to be compiled in real time. With interpretation, pauses are frequent as each line is assessed and performed.  

Code Intensiveness  

Programming languages tend to be more code intensive as they require manual input and interaction. Scripting language requires less code to be written.  

Features of Scripting Languages  

As previously mentioned, scripting languages do not need to be translated by a compiler into binary code for it to function.  

Instead, the program it is entered into is called an interpreter, which interprets the source code top to bottom and then produces and runs the binary code, line by line.  

What counts as Scripting Languages? 

Sometimes, coding languages can be mistaken as scripting languages. You cannot however, script with them. The following highlights some of these confusions which in fact, fall under the scripting language category: 

  • Languages such as HTML and XML are still classified as JavaScript callbacks. 
  • Stylesheet languages for example, CSS (used for displaying markup languages such as HTML) and LESS (extension for CSS).  
  • Any style of framework applied on top of other scripting languages such as jQuery, PostCSS, React, Vue, Angular, Rails, WordPress and more.  
  • Languages that are translated into scripting language such as TypeScript and CoffeeScript. 
  • SQL which are domain specific languages used to manage data in relational database management systems. 

Languages Which Cybersecurity Professionals Must Know 

Each scripting languages listed previously all have their own particular advantages. The following three however are the best to choose from if you are more concerned with cybersecurity as they offer a higher level of security and are less time consuming to use.  

  1. Python is one of the best scripting languages to use for cybersecurity related reasons as its interface is easy to navigate and use. It is a server-side scripting language which provides numerous white spaces for beginners’ ease and can be used for numerous projects as it is created for general purposes. Python is highly trusted to the point that NASA, Google and Reddit use it. 
  1. PHP is a language that is highly important for cybersecurity experts to know due to its numerous uses and increased popularity in modern times. It is a language which enables cybersecurity teams to monitor, secure and mitigate underlying vulnerabilities found in desktop operations, mobile apps and more. PHP however, does have a few security flaws that cybersecurity professionals need to be aware off. 
  1. JavaScript although questionable for security reasons is nonetheless a language cybersecurity professionals must know. One of the most common security flaws JavaScript is recognised for is its likelihood to increase the chance of a cross-site scripting attack. However, this language is something cybersecurity professionals must be familiar with to carry out penetration tests of web systems and bug bounty hunting.  

One of the main purposes behind scripting languages is to create dynamic web pages embedded with new functions. Multiple scripting languages are available for use however, if you are looking to progress your career in the cybersecurity field, the three scripting languages listed above are crucial for you to understand and become familiar with. These three languages are regarded with extensive popularity in recent times however, they come with flaws that every cybersecurity professional must keep up to date with.  

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