When it comes to computers there are really only two parts that are important, the hardware side and the software side. And if you want to be in the security community you really have to worry about both of those sides. While there are different types of jobs in the computer security community, the people who really excel are the ones who know as much as possible about the computers that they will be working on. How can you keep anything completely safe if you do not know anything about the machine? So if you can you want to learn about the hardware side and the software side.
While the hardware side of the computer is kind of straight forward, the software side of the equation is a little more involved. And honestly, that is what you are going to be dealing with mostly when you are trying to protect your system. It is the software attacks that are going to have you on your toes on a regular basis. It is the hackers who are geniuses when it comes to software and networking that are going to have you up at night trying to stop their latest attack. So if you want to make sure you are able to stop these types of attacks then you want to try and learn the way that the enemy is going to attack you.
The best way to do that is to learn how to program yourself. And we mean really learn how to program. A lot of people in the security community will learn how to script out little tiny programs that will help them do their work but you need to learn more than that. The people who are attacking you are not learning how to script. They are learning how to make real life programs. The attacks that you see these days are not made by script kiddies. They are made by professionals who really know what they are doing. The security on computers has gotten so good that the average is black hat hacker is not good enough to get past it. They have to use attacks that are created by the elite hackers to get past it. So if you are trying to figure out attacks made by the elites in the black hat underworld then you should know how their work process is done. And for that you would have to be educated in the world of becoming a programmer.
If you are already someone who knows how to write scripts you are not that far from learning the other steps in what it takes to become a programmer. But you do need to take it up a notch. You need to learn about how the programs work underneath the layer that you are working on. For example, a lot of white hat hackers know how to script in Python. But do you know that Python is considered a high level language and there is a lot that is going on behind the scenes? And if you are working in C then you are working with a language that is considered to be a low level language and you are pretty close to the metal. This is the type of stuff that you are going to need to know when you are trying to figure out how an attack was made and how you can stop it next time.
As a security researcher, learning how to write scripts is great. But if you really want to take it to the next level then you should learn the other skills necessary in becoming a programmer.