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Why is Python Useful in Cybersecurity?

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Published on: 10 Feb 2021
Today, technology progresses at a canonical rate. Almost everybody uses some form of technology to make his/her life easier.

In data centres around the globe, vast volumes of data are processed. Our personal information, financial details, and other sensitive information may contain the data. The huge increase in the amount of data has made security threats more sophisticated and complex, such as viruses, malware attacks, phishing, ransomware, etc.

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The popularity of the Internet of Things is another explanation for a rise in cyber-threats (IoT). IoT technology has made it possible to access the internet and be connected to different devices. While it is popular, it has also generated several security vulnerability issues. There is a heightened need for data and device threat protection.

Languages are Plenty, Why Python?

Python for Cybersecurity

What all these facts have to do with Python and why Python for cybersecurity? Again, this can be answered with another fact which is:

Imperva, a provider of cybersecurity software and services, recently concluded that the most common programming language in the world, Python, is commonly used by hackers in their cyber-attack tools. After discovering more than 20 per cent of GitHub repositories loaded with resources to conduct cyberattacks and proof of concept exploits-all written in Python, the Redwood City-based company came to the above-mentioned conclusion.

This certainly has something to do with Python and when you see that someone like Grady Booch(UML Creator) affirms Imperva’s perspective as reasonable because to write a script and exploit vulnerabilities, Python requires minimal coding knowledge.

Still Not Impressed? See Real Life Usage

Python Real Life Usage

By now, it is clear that Python is useful for cybersecurity among other cybersecurity programming languages, because if this much cyber-attack material is created in Python, obviously the first and the best language to encounter them will be the same, Python. Let us see some tools we can use to secure our infrastructure while developing applications. They are written in Python.

  1. Regex

  2. Scapy

  3. Requests

  4. Pyautogui and Web Browser

  5. Python Nmap

  6. Pen Testing

  7. Pyperclip

  8. Socket

  9. Beautiful Soup

  10. Boto3

  11. Faker

1- Regex

Regex stands for regular expressions, and this is a method that allows you to scan within a block of text for particular patterns. This is a very useful feature to retrieve information during a search or while scraping information from the internet from log files. You can build some very useful programs by integrating this library with other standard Python libraries. For instance, to scan log files and find IP addresses, you can use regex to decide whether someone has been able to hack your network, what actions they have performed, and what time this event has taken place.

2- Scapy

Scapy is a library for packet manipulation that is capable of forging and decoding packets through several different network protocols. There are instances of cybersecurity where you need to track the packets being transmitted through a network of computers. It may be to decide whether anyone has hacked into your environment, to see what ports and services are running on a computer, or to solve a network problem.

This library is great for packet analysis, whatever the cause, and can enable the same features as common tools such as Nmap, Wireshark, and tcpdump.

3- Requests

It's a fairly self-explanatory request. It enables programmers, through their scripts, to submit HTTP requests. By allowing the creation of custom payloads and attacks against web applications, HTTP requests are useful for pen-testing activities. The same features as a tool like Burp Suite can be accomplished by queries, but with more customization to your needs. Researchers from Imperva found that the most common Python library used in web-based attacks was Requests, used in 89% of Python-based attacks.

4- Pyautogui and Web Browser

Pyautogui allows mouse and keyboard functions to be managed by your scripts, making you mimic intelligent user actions. You can open a new browser with a specified URL using the web browser module. This can be used in programs to automate any behaviour that requires you to visit a website and perform any operation, such as completing a web form, downloading files, etc. This can be used to automate features that enable you to log in and post information to a web page.

It is seen that a Python script, for instance, automates the process of checking XSS scripting vulnerabilities on web pages.XSS is a cyberattack that attempts to inject an input form with javascript code and run the code on the website. It is also possible to use these libraries to automate other repetitive tasks that require you to log in, go to a web browser, and perform a webpage action.

5- Python Nmap

Nmap is a port scanner used very commonly. Port scanning is the process of testing which ports on a device are open and which services are running on that machine so that you can start evaluating how vulnerable that machine might be to being hacked.

The Python Nmap library makes it simple for you to use the nmap feature through your Python scripts, to speed up the process of scanning for vulnerabilities on a target device, and to make your scans more personalized. This library enables you to interpret the results of the nmap scan, perform custom scans, and import results from the map into other software.

6- Pen Testing

In the field of penetration testing, another significant application of Python programming in cybersecurity is to test the security of that organization, a penetration test is a method of attempting to break into a website, program, computer, or network. Many professionals develop their software and scripts to conduct these tests efficiently, which work exactly as they need them to for the test, and this is where it becomes very useful to know Python.

7- Pyperclip

This library enables you to access the clipboard directly from your scripts in Python. While with the pyautogui library this can be achieved, pyperclip makes this approach much easier and adds versatility to your scripts. For any scripts containing vast bodies of text, it is especially helpful. For instance, say that you search an entire pdf for names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Pyperclip only helps you to use it in your script as an input by highlighting the pdf text and copying it to the clipboard, saving you a large amount of time.

8- Socket

Socket is a library of low-level network interfaces that allows you to create client-server links. This is important in the sense of cybersecurity because it allows you to connect with a specific protocol to any computer on a given port and send data to that machine. This can be used for a computer's port scanning as well as sending data to or extracting data from a machine. At a later point of pen research, data exfiltration occurs and is known as manipulation. Any project that allows you to communicate over a network interface would use Socket.

9- Beautiful Soup

This library specializes in supporting the penetration testing knowledge collection level. Beautiful Soup lets you parse HTML and XML file files, allowing you to automate the tasks of data scraping.

During the open-source intelligence stage of a penetration test, data scraping can be essential, as this stage is dedicated to finding as much information as possible about the target of the test. For this purpose, you might want to build scripts to automate this process, searching for information on your target company in places like Github. This information might include IP addresses or user IDs and passwords that developers frequently unintentionally commit to public repositories.

10- Boto3

Boto3 is the Python Software Development Kit (SDK) for Amazon Web Services (AWS), which enables programmers to write scripts that can communicate with AWS services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service(S3), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud(EC2), and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).

You can start and stop servers on-demand with Boto3, cancel instances that do not adhere to the security requirements of your company, conduct updates and patch management, and much more. For any professional working with AWS, being familiar with this SDK is quite useful.

11- Faker

Faker tool for Cybersecurity

This library is dedicated to the production of false information that can be used for checking your programs. This is necessary to ensure that the action can be done as planned, regardless of the scripts or tools you write.

For example, you may want to create some fake text containing that information if you have a script that extracts URLs and tests your software to ensure that your script can locate it efficiently. Random data like names, addresses, emails, countries, text, urls, etc. can be created by Fake.

More Reasons to use Python for Cybersecurity Programming

By now, we have seen facts and some of the applications which prove that Python is useful in cybersecurity. Let us go ahead and check the one last aspect and that is why Python is the best programming language for cybersecurity.  There are the following reasons for preferring Python for cybersecurity.:

1- A Versatile model

2- Powerful Libraries

3- Easy Syntax

4- Scalability

1- A Versatile model

Python is a highly structured language that has very strict syntactic rules. That being said, to its greatest effect, this makes it easier to use. Python is much cleaner in execution than other languages. Python has a fixed method of task execution rather than a variety of different methods that lead to inelegant code, the wasting of system resources, and exploitable errors that hackers and malicious actors may take advantage of.

Python has built a creative atmosphere by not allowing too many vulnerabilities to manifest themselves and making it easy to learn, where people can play within the established rules more easily. Since it's so basic, there are even more choices that wouldn't be accessible if users were only trying to find out how to make it work at all. The simplicity with which Python can be used also helps it to quickly create new applications as needed and seamlessly incorporate previously used scripts and executables into the new code easily. Likewise, modules in C, C++, Java, or .NET can be generated or expanded and have scripting capabilities that can be embedded in other applications.

All of this combines to make it much simpler to respond to security threats and, in the first place, prevent major exploits.

2- Powerful Libraries

A powerful language is only just as good as the libraries it has, of which there are quite a few in Python. In reality, inside their libraries, you will find a full spectrum of features, making it possible to respond much faster to security threats and to explore new ways in which hackers might attempt to target a device to prevent these types of attacks from actually occurring.

One of the main advantages of Python libraries for penetration testers is that it comes with a wide variety of tools designed to test the security of a specific application and identify gaps that might be inadvertently overlooked by the programmers. This style of experimentation is encouraged by much of the language and makes it much easier to create a strong, hard-to-break application or script from the get-go instead of scrambling to fix issues that would not have been found without thorough alpha testing.

In the same way, many Python libraries are modular and simple to incorporate into a project but are automatically prepared to resolve common security threats. To ensure that they can be used to save time for the developer, but to ensure that the most popular issues are solved in advance, they have been tested and tested again.

Also, Python libraries are used by researchers and ethical hackers alike. For example, Scapy, Beautiful Soup/Requests, Impackets, Libmap/NMap are some of the libraries that are used frequently in keeping malicious users at bay and scraping website data as well.

3- Easy Syntax

When compared to some of the other common languages, Python is a simple language. Python has clear syntax and new developers or those joining the cyber-security area will quickly pick it up. Python is also one of the experienced developers' favourite languages since it can incorporate several Python functionalities. It is possible to quickly create Python scripts. The easy syntax also helps cybersecurity professionals to quickly identify and correct errors in the code.

4- Scalability

Python is an extremely scalable language. It is suitable for environments where several applications work together with one another. Python can easily be used to provide all applications with protection. With its other benefits, such as flexibility and usability, it can easily be scaled up to higher levels. If other languages are taken into account, they appear to be more nuanced and require a lot of additional work from security professionals.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Python for security professionals is a very useful tool in the current scenario. It can be seen that there are several tools developed with Python which help developers and IT professionals keep hackers at bay. Apart from that, ease of learning and the powerful library provides a vast area of learning where a user has a vast variety of things to work and experiment on and that can range from servers to IoT devices.

Hope this article has provided you with some direction towards learning Python for cybersecurity. If you want to start about cybersecurity or want to know about languages to learn for cybersecurity, please click on the links. You can also see the details about the threat level cybersecurity is in, in the UK as well.  These articles will provide you with more insight into current scenarios in cybersecurity. Cheers!!

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How is Python used for cyber security?

Python is a useful programming language for cybersecurity professionals as it can perform many functions, that include malware analysis, scanning, and penetration testing functions.

Which language is best for cyber security?

Application security helps prevent hacks and cyber attacks on applications and programs throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Being the most advanced, Python is one of the best to go about it.

How difficult is cyber security?

Cybersecurity is not as complicated as usually believed, and anyone with the required skills can excel in this field. Critical and analytical skills are needed for quick problem-solving. As the field is continuously evolving, you have to be consistent in learning and have to be acquainted with tech updates. So, it takes hard work to establish yourself as a professional with integrity and expertise.

Can I learn cyber security on my own?

Like many other resources online, cybersecurity can also be self-taught. With everything available on the internet, we can learn cybersecurity anything without the need to go through the traditional forms of education.Though, it takes a lot of effort.

Is it easy to get into cybersecurity?

The cyber security field is vast enough to find many roles that suits your skills and technical knowledge you have. It is always easier when you can choose  a job role according to your natural inclination. And yes, the demand for cybersecurity professionals are high enough to get into it.