Can Software Engineers Hack? Do They Need To?

Can software engineers hack? The short answer: yes. Just visit any company that hosts a bug bounty program, and you’ll find thousands of security researchers around the world who have made it their job to document and exploit vulnerabilities in popular consumer and enterprise websites, operating systems, and networked devices. And while this is great news for the companies that run these bounty programs, it’s not so great for software engineers or anyone who writes code to create or enhance digital experiences. Because when developers don’t get a patch in time and the bug gets exploited in a widespread way, they’re usually the ones who take the heat from their peers and management.

Software engineers rarely hack, but they possess some skills relevant to hacking. Software engineers often use the Linus operating system, and hackers normally use Linux as well. However, hackers specialize in information technology and its protocols, while software developers are programmers.

To avoid this, software engineers must understand the basics of penetration testing and secure coding practices. But to do so, they need access to both the right tools and the right guidance.

Today’s software engineers face increasing pressure to build more secure products without sacrificing speed or quality, all while juggling other priorities like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and cross-platform development. So how can companies empower their engineering teams to win the war on cyberattacks with limited resources and secure code?

The answer is a combination of thorough training, access to cybersecurity experts, and platform developers to learn from past mistakes. By arming software engineers with all of these things, they’ll be equipped to find bugs before hackers do.

Suppose you talk to developers who have had the chance to work with a threat modeling platform. In that case, they’ll tell you their engineering teams are not only finding bugs faster and more often, they’re also leading conversations around which security measures need high priority.

Is a software engineer a hacker?

Software Engineer is not a hacker. At least, the term “Software Hacker” does not fit in this profession. Software engineer works on software to maintain, enhance and fix it for various types of users.

Hacker has a different meaning in the computer world, people often confuse with so many meanings for this word, but mostly they are defined as a person who finds and exploits the weakness in software.

These types of people use their knowledge for illegal purposes, do illegal activities with the data, also steal data by using unauthorized access like hacking Facebook passwords or any other social accounts or bank account.

Software engineers follow some standard guidelines according to client requirements and do some changes accordingly to work on a live system without causing harm to the system.

Can a computer engineer be a hacker?

Computer engineers are well-versed in all things computer-related. They design, build, test, and maintain computers, but is that enough to call oneself a hacker? The idea of what it means to be a hacker has evolved since its creation in the early days of computing. What was once referred to as ‘hacking’ are now isolated incidents of computer crime. The original hackers broke into computers as a form of exploration, a natural curiosity about the new technology spawned from early research. As time went on and computing became more prevalent in our culture, this hacking mentality changed to the malicious intent we know today.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with being a computer engineer, it does not correlate to the hacker mentality. Someone who is a computer engineer designs software and hardware for others to use; they are problem solvers regarding computers, whereas hackers seek to find problems within. Intentions can change mindsets, but this is not always the case. It takes more than just being able to build and design something to be called a hacker. Hackers throughout history have not just been engineers who were good with computers. There has yet to be an exact definition of what it means to be a hacker, but the idea of breaking into and exploring computers is intrinsic in this term.

As useful as it may be, computer engineering is not the only career path someone interested in hacking might take. It requires a lot of technical skill and constant learning about new technologies, so it may not be the most stable career path for someone committed to hacking. Although there are hackers out there that have engineering backgrounds, anyone can be a hacker if they put enough time into learning how computers work on a fundamental level. It just takes time and dedication to get to that point.

Can a software developer be a hacker?

Only if he is a good one, most developers know nothing about hacking, and the few who do are mostly those with an inclination to break the security built into the software. In my view, to be a hacker, you need to have both the programming and the breaking mindset. Generally, people do not realize this because they judge from what they see on the streets. The general public tends to equate hacking with cracking, and an average script kiddie is always thought of as a hacker until he is found using exploits written by others to carry out his attacks.

Hackers are those who don’t need anyone’s help to break systems; they do it because it interests them, for the pleasure of knowing something that others don’t. They are driven by curiosity to find out flaws in systems or to see what they can do. The best hackers are those who have written papers on the subject and have contributed back to society. Every time new technology is released, there are articles on how it can be hacked by the white hat hackers so that developers/companies can fix the flaws before the black hats can misuse them.

Can programming be used to hack?

Can programming be used to hack? Yes.

Programmers write computer programs to tell computers what to do. Unethical people can also write computer programs that break into computers, steal information, damage hardware or software, and cause problems in general. These people are called hackers instead of criminals because they typically use their computer skills without hurting anyone. When a criminal uses a computer program to commit a crime, the program is called a “Computer Virus” or a “Computer Worm.”

Programming languages like Java and C++ are becoming more popular for writing computer viruses. A virus written in one of these languages is normally easy for programmers to find and eliminate with an anti-virus software package. However, most new viruses are written in Assembly Language, which is more difficult to detect.

Assembly language programs are written by programmers using Assembly Language Directives or Assembly Language Macros to tell the computer what to do. A programmer creates a program called an “Assembler” that takes these directives and macros and converts them into Assembly language to be used by the virus. Programmers can use pre-written assembly language macros in their virus programs to make them easier, faster, and smaller. For example, the “SUB” or “SUBTRACT” macro can be used to subtract one number from another with only one instruction instead of several.

Assembly Language Directives for viruses are not part of any particular programming language (not even Assembly language) and can be added to any language. For example, the “JMP” (Jump) Directive in assembly language will make the computer jump to a different part of the program without reading the other instructions. This is similar to how we think; we take shortcuts through our thoughts and don’t read everything or follow every step.

An Overview of Programming Viruses

Viruses can also be written in high-level programming languages like C or even Visual Basic. Many people think that these viruses are not as dangerous because they will be easier for programmers to find, but this is not true.

Programmers use techniques called obfuscation and encryption when writing viruses in high-level languages so that the viruses are very difficult to analyze. Obfuscation is when programmers make it harder for other programmers to read and understand their code by using confusing variable names, strange loops or routines, etc. Encryption is when viruses encrypt data in an attempt to hide their activity. Many encryption techniques have been developed over the years, but they nearly all rely on a single-key system in which one key is used for encryption and decryption. This makes it easier for programmers to find and disable the viruses by searching for this key.

Not all viruses try to hide their activity in an attempt to stay working in a computer; some do whatever they were programmed to do anyway. For example, a virus could be programmed to delete all the files from your hard drive, or it could just break your computer screen. Viruses that break your computer screen are called “Screensavers,” and they were written mostly as jokes or pranks.

Viruses have been written in C for various reasons over the years. Still, recently viruses have been written in C because of the large number of “hacking tools” available for programmers. These hacking tools do many things that hackers might want a virus to do, like breaking into computers remotely, controlling multiple computers at once, etc. Also, many of these tools are written in C and can be easily added to a virus program.

Breaking into a computer remotely is easy to do with a little computer know-how, but for someone who does not have this knowledge, it would be nearly impossible without the use of programming. C has been used in many remote-control programs, including some that hackers wrote.

Programmers can write viruses in any language they want, including Assembly Language. Still, usually, they will write them in high-level languages like C or Visual Basic to make it harder for programmers to find and disable the virus.


Whether you are building an internal tool, a consumer application, or anything in between, you should consider providing your engineering teams with threat modeling platforms to help them discover and address security issues throughout the development process and expose them to the right training so they can stay up-to-date on the latest secure coding practices. The best part? It will save the company money in the long run by reducing potential security exploits and preventing users from experiencing a breach.

Gene Botkin

Gene is a graduate student in cybersecurity and AI at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Ongoing philosophy and theology student.

Recent Posts