Python is a programming language used by penetration testers, also known as pentesters. It is the preferred programming language because it’s easy to learn and supported by several platforms, including Windows, Linux, and OS X. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to learn Python and includes a variety of related information.
What Is Python?
Python is a popular multipurpose programming language that is applicable to any program that uses lines of code, mathematical computation, or data. Python is more versatile than most programming languages and offers advanced tools, aggressive tools, and analysis tools to penetration testers.
Since this programming language is flexible, stable, and simple, it is ideal for artificial intelligence and machine learning projects. It also contains AI and machine learning libraries and packages, which is why it is often used by data scientists. Developers also use Python to create machine learning applications, blockchain applications, and video and audio apps.
What Is Python Used for in Pentesting?
Python is a popular programming language used for a wide range of technical tasks, including information security and network penetration testing. Python has a variety of libraries, which provides pentesters with ready-made tools and protocols to make their jobs easier.
These effective tools include proxy services that generate data to find vulnerabilities, errors, and complete exploit frameworks. One example is Scapy which is used to support the development and transmission of different custom network packets used for vulnerability scanning in networks.
How Long Will It Take to Learn Python for Pentesters?
It typically takes two to six months to master the basics of Python, although it depends on the level of education and education path you’re pursuing. Coding bootcamps and online Python courses are popular education paths for learning Python, both of which typically take a few weeks to a few months to complete.
Why Should You Learn Python for Pentesting?
Python makes it easier for penetration testers to perform malware analysis, automate responses to attack vectors, and strengthen offensive security. It also offers third-party scripts for penetration testing to reduce the time spent writing codes. Listed below are more important reasons why Python is pentesters’ language of choice.
Easy to Learn
Python is one of the easiest programming languages to learn because of how easy it is to read and write. Its syntax is often compared to the English language, making it even easier to learn and master. Additionally, it requires fewer lines of code to enact functions that would otherwise require more complex and lengthy lines of code.
Python libraries are ready-made sets of code that can be used in place of writing code from scratch. Due to the volume of Python libraries, there are many functions you won’t have to manually input. This is significant for security professionals because it saves a lot of time and allows them to easily automate tasks.
All of the exceptional features and functions provided by Python have attracted many users, resulting in a massive Python community. As Python is a free and open-source software, countless members of the Python community have created and distributed their own software packets, which can be used by anyone. The community is tight-knit and welcoming to all users.
How Can I Learn Python for Pentesters?
If you want to learn Python for pentesting, there are many learning resources available to you. Listed below are three of the best ways to pursue learning Python.
Coding bootcamps have recently gained a lot of popularity for their extensive and effective training in tech skills. Python bootcamp programs offer students a short, intensive, and flexible way of learning. They’re also known for using a tactile learning approach, which allows students to practice as they learn and develop hands-on experience.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are another popular education path for learning Python. Online Python courses provide a combination of theoretical learning and hands-on training in order to thoroughly prepare students for real-life application. There are a variety of online courses that can be filtered by learning level, concentration, and price range.
Python video tutorials allow learners to follow along, learn at their own pace, and are often provided for free. YouTube offers a huge variety of Python tutorials for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced learners. Additionally, many Python tutorials on YouTube are provided by instructors and programmers who host Q&A sessions to answer students’ questions.
Top Python for Pentesters Libraries
One of the most attractive features of Python is its extensive libraries. Libraries are sets of written code that can be reused to decrease your code-writing time. Since Python has a vast number of libraries, there are many functions prewritten for you. Listed below are some of the top Python libraries for pentesters.
- Scapy. This library and tool is used for packet manipulation. It decodes and forges packets of different protocols and then captures them, matches requests, and replies.
- Impacket. This library includes a collection of Python scripts used by attackers to target network security protocols. It is used to capture hashes, enumerate users, escalate privileges, and move laterally.
- Requests/Beautiful Soup. This library allows you to send HTTP requests without having to do it manually. You can also pull out data from XML files and HTML files with Beautiful Soup. It is useful in generating custom attacks and payloads against web apps.
- Nmap. Pentesters use this library to execute custom attacks and analyze scan results. It also comes in handy when you need to import Nmap results into other penetration testing tools for proper reporting.
- Socket. This library offers different constants, objects, and functions for developing full-fledged network apps, such as server and client programs. It allows pentesters to connect, receive, and send messages across the network.
How to Learn Python for Pentesters: A Step-by-Step Guide
Python is an easy programming language to learn, but it can still be overwhelming if you’re new to programming. Listed below is a step-by-step guide on how to learn Python as a pentester.
Learn the Basics
In order to implement Python into pentesting, you need to start with the basic programming skills. You need a strong Python foundation before you can apply its functions to complex tasks. Some of the fundamental aspects you should cover include basic operators, variables, types, string formatting, conditions, loops, classes, list comprehensions, and objects.
Practice with Projects
Once you’ve learned the basics, you need to practice as much as you can. Practice will help you master each stage of your Python learning journey and polish your programming skills. After getting a good grasp of object oriented programming, basic data structures, and writing classes, you can start practicing by building projects.
Pair programming is often used as an educational method, but also as a professional technique for optimized code. It involves two programmers who take turns writing and reviewing the written code. While one programmer is writing code, the other is reviewing it, checking for mistakes, and ensuring complete accuracy.
Contribute to Open Source Projects
After mastering the basics and practicing, you’re ready to advance your programming skills. In open-source projects, the software code is made public so other developers can access it and collaborate with you. You can find Python libraries and companies that have open source projects you can contribute to.
One of the best ways to master Python is to teach it. You can write blog posts for Python newbies, whiteboard with security enthusiasts, make short videos explaining concepts or quick fixes, or answer questions in Python forums. Any of these strategies can solidify your pentesting skills with Python.
Start Learning Python for Pentesters Today
As a pentester, mastering Python saves you time that would have been used for mundane and repetitive tasks. It automates daily tasks through codes, which allows you to concentrate on other aspects of penetration testing. The learning process is straightforward and there are a lot of resources to help you get started.
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