Recently we discussed what cybersecurity professionals do, and today we’ll cover whether or not you need to know how to code to enter the industry.
In this post, we’ll look at which cybersecurity jobs require coding experience, what types of coding languages are most common in the industry, what cybersecurity practices utilize coding, and which approach is best when trying to learn the basics of coding.
Many people believe that being an expert coder is a necessity for becoming a cybersecurity professional, however, that is not always the case. Depending on the organization and type of cybersecurity practice one specializes in, you may not have to have any coding experience whatsoever to be successful in the industry.
In truth, there are many entry-level roles in the cybersecurity industry that don't require extensive coding knowledge, though, the more senior-level positions are almost certain to require at least a basic understanding of key coding principles.
Even if you don’t have any coding experience but want to help an organization protect its technical infrastructure, data, and digital applications, cybersecurity might just be your ideal career.
After you’ve learned everything you need to know about launching a career in cybersecurity, fill out our information request form to receive additional details about our 100% online Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity.
If you’re ready to get started, submit your application today.
Which Cybersecurity Jobs Require Coding?
While some cybersecurity positions won’t require extensive coding and programming knowledge, there are still some highly technical positions that do require individuals to have a strong understanding of various coding languages and concepts.
Some of the most common cybersecurity job titles that require coding knowledge include:
A cybersecurity engineer identifies threats and vulnerabilities in an organization's systems and software to develop sophisticated lines of code that defend against hacking, malware and ransomware, insider threats, and other types of cybercrime.
Software engineers/programmers create new security technologies and make changes to existing applications and programs related to securing a company's digital systems and data. They work with many different coding languages and are often involved in the entire lifecycle of creating cybersecurity-related software.
Software developers create customized software for a specific need within an organization. More specifically, cybersecurity software developers write code and create software to protect an organization from malicious cyber threats.
Ethical Hacker or Penetration Tester
Ethical hackers, which are also known as penetration testers, perform risk assessments and test systems for security-related issues.
These tests are conducted against all possible security breaches, exploits, and vulnerability scenarios that protect organizations from attacks. This position doesn’t necessarily involve writing code, but it does require individuals to understand and read code to determine if a given program is a security threat.
Digital Forensic Analyst
A digital forensic analyst focuses on the recovery and investigation of material found in digital devices and cybercrimes. Digital forensic analysts use various software and coding tools to help uncover evidence and therefore must have at least a basic understanding of various coding languages.
A cryptographer writes encryption code used for data security. Computer-encrypted data uses exceptionally long and advanced encryption algorithms to prevent unauthorized access.
Cryptographers require excellent coding knowledge and experience to successfully write and maintain the complex encryption code used to protect critical data sets and systems.
Which Cybersecurity Jobs Don’t Require Coding?
Understanding how to code can be a great skill to have for cybersecurity professionals, however, it’s not a requirement to successfully break into the industry.
Many jobs within the cybersecurity field don’t require coding experience, yet are still extremely important in helping to protect an organization's systems and data.
Some of the most common jobs that are less likely to require coding within the cybersecurity industry include:
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts are responsible for protecting sensitive information and critical systems within a company. They do this by monitoring threats and identifying vulnerabilities in the current system.
This position doesn’t typically require extensive coding knowledge, as information security analysts aren’t usually involved in actually developing the computer code that protects an organization.
Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst
A cyber threat intelligence analyst is responsible for analyzing incoming threats and performing extensive research on how to best protect an organization's data.
This position requires strong attention to detail along with the ability to solve problems creatively, though it doesn’t usually involve writing complex computer code used to create cybersecurity software.
Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst
An SOC analyst works on a team to monitor, analyze, and respond to security threats in real-time. The main goal of an SOC analyst is to prevent attacks on a network.
While having basic coding skills may help an SOC analyst identify threats more efficiently, it is not typically a requirement in this role, as an SOC analyst tends to rely on pre-built software and technology to help identify threats without having to read complex computer code on a daily basis.
A product manager doesn’t have to write computer code because they are managing a team of software developers, analysts, and programmers that are building the application, software, or system.
It is the product manager's job to ensure their teams meet tight deadlines and stay within budgetary constraints. Since they are not the ones doing the technical part of the job, they aren’t required to have extensive coding skills to do their job effectively.
A compliance officer’s role is to ensure that an organization's computer systems and networks are secure and in compliance with government and industry regulations.
Instead of having to understand computer code this role requires individuals to be well-versed in current laws and legislation regarding cybersecurity practices and principles.
A security auditor carries out audits based on organizational policies and governmental regulations. They work closely with an organization's IT department to assess security controls and current practices.
This position requires extensive knowledge of laws and current best practices within the industry, however, it doesn’t require individuals to write complex code or create software programs from scratch. Rather, a security auditor will measure the compliance and effectiveness of these programs after they have been built.
Should You Learn to Code?
As the lists above demonstrate, some cybersecurity industry jobs do require coding, while others don’t.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, as different organizations use different job titles in different ways, so make sure to fully vet any opportunity you are considering before assuming it will or will not require coding.
With that said, choosing to learn how to code is a great way to set yourself apart when attempting to break into the cybersecurity industry, and could become increasingly important as you make your way up the ranks in this competitive field.
Which Cybersecurity Practices Require Coding?
Understanding computer programming and being able to code are both valuable assets for aspiring cybersecurity professionals.
Some of the most common cybersecurity practices which require knowledge of computer programming include:
- Software Development: Developing software within the cybersecurity field involves building complex firewalls and cryptographic tools to protect an organization. In order to successfully build these software programs, individuals must have a strong understanding of computer programming techniques.
- Code Security: Code security is the practice of writing code and programming language to encrypt software and protect an organization's valuable databases, networks, and systems.
- Reverse Engineering: Through reverse engineering, cybersecurity professionals can improve existing computer code and check to see if any security vulnerabilities exist in current systems.
- Offensive & Defense Cybersecurity Operations: To successfully protect an organization from cyber threats, some cybersecurity professionals must not only identify threats but also actively pursue potential breaches before they happen. Doing this requires the ability to write complex code and understand common programming languages.
- Malware Analysis: Malware is a special kind of software used to circumvent an organization's cybersecurity protocols. Malware analysis involves breaking down the programming language behind the malicious software to better understand how to protect against malware attacks in the future.
- Penetration Testing: Penetration testing, which is also called ethical hacking, attempts to find vulnerabilities and loopholes in current security software. By identifying these vulnerabilities, organizations can improve their coding and security programming to better protect against various cyber attacks.
Being able to understand computer programming is a valuable asset in many different cybersecurity practices. Having this unique skill can help graduates achieve a long and successful career in the cybersecurity field.
Which Cybersecurity Practices Do Not Require Programming?
If you don’t know much about computer programming, don’t worry, because there are still a variety of practices in cybersecurity that don’t require computer programming skills. Some of those practices include:
- Compliance: Instead of creating code or complex programs, you’ll be responsible for ensuring an organization is compliant with current laws, regulations, and policies.
- Project Management: Being a cybersecurity project manager involves overseeing project teams and ensuring deliverables are met within tight deadlines. You won’t have to write any computer code yourself, rather, you will be managing the cybersecurity professionals which write complex computer code.
- Incident Response: In the cybersecurity practice of incident response you’ll be focused on analyzing any breaches in current systems and finding vulnerabilities before a cyber breach happens.
- Threat Intelligence: Cyber threat intelligence is information an organization uses to understand the threats that have, will, or are currently targeting their systems. This information helps organizations prepare, prevent and identify cyber threats in real-time. If a threat intelligence report shows customized software is required to protect an organization, software developers will build out the programming.
- Security Architecture: Cybersecurity architecture examines the organizational structure, functional behavior, and standards for a computer network that includes both network and security features. Cybersecurity architecture can provide the analysis needed to improve upon current systems and security programs, however, cybersecurity professionals in this practice aren’t required to write computer programs themselves.
- Vulnerability Management & Patch Management: The purpose of patch and vulnerability management is to provide appropriate protection against threats that could adversely affect an organization’s information systems or data. Patch management creates a consistently configured environment that protects against known vulnerabilities in operating systems and application software.
- Security Operations Center: A security operations center is a centralized unit within an organization or government body that assesses threats and responds to cyber breaches as they happen. Cybersecurity professionals in this practice must be well trained on identifying risks and minimizing security breaches.
- Security Risk Assessments: Security risk assessments evaluate an application's security controls and identifies potential vulnerabilities. It helps prevent defects and security breaches from happening.
- Security Audits: Performing a security audit involves ensuring current systems are functioning properly, as well as being compliant with legislation and policy. Working within the practice of security audits requires a strong understanding of legislation and industry best practices, but does not require individuals to write programming code.
As you can see, the field of cybersecurity has many different practices and disciplines that don’t require advanced programming knowledge or expertise.
If you want to break into the cybersecurity industry, but you don’t know much about computer programming, then don’t let that stop you from trying to land a role and begin your career.
With that said, if you want to put your best foot forward, then we suggest completing CSU Global’s B.S. in Cybersecurity before applying to any particular job, as this program was designed to provide you with all the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to succeed in this challenging field.
Which Programming Languages Are Most Relevant to Cybersecurity Professionals?
If you are interested in learning programming before launching your career in cybersecurity, keep in mind that you might want to focus on developing knowledge of and expertise in some specific programming languages.
Mastering the programming languages listed below is a great way to build the skills, abilities, and knowledge needed to have a successful and life-long career in cybersecurity.
C & C++
C is one of the oldest programming languages and is used to develop software programs like operating systems, databases, and compilers. C++ is an extension of C and is used to create more complex systems such as video games and browsers.
Both C and C++ programs can be used by cybercriminals to write malicious code quickly and efficiently. Understanding these program languages is extremely important when protecting an organization from malicious software and malware attacks.
Python is a versatile, general-purpose programming language that's used worldwide. It's popular among programmers because it's easy to use and powerful.
Because of Python’s simplicity, it is a favorite amongst cybercriminals. For this reason, cybersecurity professionals need to be able to write code using Python to stop cyber breaches from happening, as well as reverse engineer previous attacks.
PHP is a server-side programming language used to develop websites. One of the most common hacking techniques using PHP is a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, in which an attacker attempts to make web applications unavailable to users by shutting down the website.
Using PHP language can help prevent these DOS attacks from happening and allows cybersecurity professionals to better protect web applications from being the target of cybercriminals.
SQL stands for structured query language and is the programming used to create large databases.
Databases are a common target amongst cybercriminals as these digital warehouses hold an organization's private information. Learning how to write and manipulate SQL programming can help prevent SQL injection attacks and ensure a company's critical data is protected from prying eyes.
While there are other programming languages used to protect an organization's data, the languages mentioned above are some of the most common that hiring managers look for when recruiting cybersecurity professionals.
What’s the Best Way to Learn to Code?
The best way to learn how to code is to earn your degree from a program like CSU Global’s Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity because it provides students with a comprehensive introduction to coding and programming basics.
Earning your degree in cybersecurity from CSU Global will provide you with a working knowledge of coding best practices, including how to use coding to help secure information systems and protect against cyber attacks.
Learning to code can seem like an overwhelming task at first, and while it might be hard work to understand complex coding languages, the benefits of learning them are certain to be worth it in the long run.
Which Cybersecurity Degree Program Will Teach Me to Code?
CSU Global’s Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity program is the perfect way to develop basic coding expertise that you can apply directly to work as a cybersecurity professional, which will help set you up for lifelong success in this challenging industry.
Our program introduces students to the most common and widely used coding and programming languages in the industry, allowing graduates to apply foundational programming/coding skills from their first day on the job.
This program is widely recognized as one of the best programs in the industry, as it currently holds several excellent rankings, including
- A #3 ranking on Top 10 Online Cyber Security Undergraduate Certificate Programs for 2021 from Security Degree Hub.
- A #10 ranking on Best Online Cyber Security Degree Programs of 2022 from Intelligent.
CSU Global itself also recently earned several impressive rankings of its own, including:
- A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges & Schools in Colorado from Best Accredited Colleges.
- A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges in Colorado from Best Colleges.
- A #10 ranking for Best Online Colleges for ROI from OnlineU.
Our cybersecurity faculty have recent industry experience and the program’s coursework is aligned with professional certification exams that employers want from cybersecurity professionals, including:
- (ISC)2 Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
- (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
- EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (EC-Council ECES)
- EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (EC-Council ECIH)
- CompTIA A+, Network +, Security+, and Project+
Completing this program will provide you with competence in the areas associated with the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam, preparing you to deliver real results from your first day in the industry.
Finally, to help save you time and money on the costs of your degree, we offer competitive tuition rates, a Tuition Guarantee that ensures your low tuition rate won’t increase from enrollment through graduation, and the opportunity to earn credits via our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program.
For additional details about our fully accredited, 100% online Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity, please give us a call at 800-462-7845 or fill out our Information Request Form.
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