Working in Cybersecurity: Do I Need to Learn to Code?

by | Apr 22, 2021

If you are looking for a career change to cybersecurity, please do not let the lack of coding knowledge keep you from reaching your dream. Even though it is a great asset to portray in your professional profile, it is not a requirement when you are just getting started.

Little is the entry-level roles that ask for coding knowledge. In fact, we can even say that those who require coding abilities are probably looking for the wrong profile.

At CyberWarrior Academy, we want to encourage you to learn to code but do it at a steady and calm rhythm. And if possible, try to keep this as one of your goals for your first years working in cybersecurity. This is one of those skills that will determine how far you will get in your career pathway. The more you develop it, the further and the more opportunities you will get. 

Areas in Cybersecurity that Require Coding 

So far, we have told you that coding will be very useful at some point in your career while necessary to enter the cybersecurity world. But how and where exactly?

  • If you decide to work in penetration testing, coding will help you identify faulty codes and how to fix them. 
  • For those who choose incident response as their specialty, coding will give you the necessary tools to investigate breaches, analyze malware, and reverse engineer attacks. Keep in mind that for you to be successful in this field, you need to learn to think like a hacker, to understand how they create attacks, and to be able to predict their next moves.  
  • If you rather go with risk assessment, then coding will allow you to understand and successfully apply mitigation techniques. 
  • If you choose any cybersecurity job with the word engineer or developer, then coding is a skill that will help you stand out and perform well at your job.  

I Want to Learn to Code: Where Should I Start?  

Now that it is clear what and why coding is important for those who want to become cybersecurity experts, we want to help you figure out how and where to start. The first thing you need to do is choose the language you want to specialize in.

Some programming languages are more famous than others: Java, JavaScript, HTML, C, C++, PHP, Scala, and Python.

Anyone who wants to have a career in cybersecurity must consider Python as their first option. Not because it is the one we teach our Bootcamp, but because it is the one with the design and functionality that will allow you to perform functions such as malware analysis, penetration testing, port scanning, decoding packets, and others. Python is easy to learn and implement, it requires minimal coding to accomplish the task you want to do, and there is an extensive library of modules where you can find cybersecurity tools. 

Once you have made up your mind about the language you want to deep dive into, the next step would be to choose a cybersecurity academy where you can learn from specialized instructors. Do not settle with free online videos. Go further with your education, and get your hands dirty.

We strongly recommend that you: 

  1. Set goals: why do you want to learn Python? What do you want to build with it?
  2. Spend some time, not too much, learning the basic syntax.
  3. Start working on structured projects. The only way to really know if you understand coding is to practice it. There are many options for you: creating a website, a mobile app, making video games, data analysis, building robots, etc.
  4. Work on your own projects. Starting from scratch on your own project gives you confidence and experience, even if it’s a little one. However, do not make the same mistake others have and use an “easy” language thinking that just because of that everything’s going to be faster and effortless because you can and will get frustrated very fast.
  5. Be constantly learning and practicing. Python is evolving every day, to fully understand how it works you must stay on top of it.

When choosing which coding language you want to learn, make sure you check which cybersecurity areas each is used on the most. As we said earlier in this post, we suggest you start with Python, it will help you perform lots of different tasks while not being as hard to learn as many others languages. And more importantly, keep in mind that every skill you add to your résumé will help make it stand out in front of the eyes of recruiters.