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Should I learn C?

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bahr

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Post Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:35 am

Should I learn C?

Hi everyone.

I'm slowly working on a career change into infosec and pentesting. Right now I'm working full-time as a .NET & JavaScript front & backend developer, and due to my current experience I have been recommended to focus on web application security.

So I've been reading a bit on the OWASP homepage and also bought the "Coding for Penetration Testers" book and I'm working myself through it, trying to get an overview of how things are done. The more I read though, the more difficult and confused I get when trying to choose where to invest my time and put my focus.

I've been reading about socket programming with python in the book, and read a low-level introduction article on how sockets are implemented in C, linked by the python docs. I've come to realize that I find all this low level stuff really exciting, and I'm tired of using high level language libraries, without knowing how stuff really works.

I did a bit of Googleing and found that C/C++ is often used for doing exploits and shellcode. So do you guys think it would be beneficial for a newbie like me learn how to implement network shells, making payloads etc, in a low level language like C? Or would that be a waste of time? Is C programming a useful and often required skill/tool when working as a penetration tester, especially now that web application security seems to become more and more popular?
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dynamik

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Post Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:47 am

Re: Should I learn C?

It depends what your goals are. If you want to focus on web app testing, Python and/or Ruby would be your best bet. You'll save yourself a ton of time and headache over trying to do the same thing in C.

However, if you are more interested in learning how things work behind-the-scenes, C is a good place to start. This is my favorite book on C: http://www.amazon.com/Programming-C-4th ... 122&sr=1-4 Also, if you really want to dive deep, learn assembly. That'll give you a new appreciation for how memory and the CPU operate. Back when I wasn't totally neglecting my blog, I wrote an article on how it would be advantageous to learn C and assembly simultaneously: https://www.infosiege.net/2012/04/explo ... -assembly/
The day you stop learning is the day you start becoming obsolete.
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azmatt

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Post Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:49 pm

Re: Should I learn C?

I think dynamik nailed it. I use python in my daily life but I bought an intro to c book a few weeks ago because I realized that I really should get comfortable with C before I seriously try to improve my assembly, reverse engineering & exploit dev skills.

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