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One of the most lucrative fields of computing is cybersecurity, with the investment of funds in billions to prevent and recover from cyber-attacks. One key aspect of computer science as a whole is mathematics and one can’t help but wonder, is there a lot of math in cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity involves a lot of math. To practice in the sector, you will need strong analytical and statistical analysis skills. The best practitioners of cybersecurity are those who think like hackers and crackers and use the insights gained to develop protective measures for computing systems.
As the world’s reliance on computing technology develops, cybersecurity has become a major problem, with data protection and privacy becoming increasingly crucial. Because of the increasing volume of sensitive and important data in computer systems throughout the world, cybersecurity has become a profitable industry.
So what does it take to get into the field and how much math do you have to deal with?
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If you want to work in cybersecurity, chances are you’ll have to do some math before you can advance to management or operate your own cybersecurity company. However, because there are sub-disciplines, there is a potential that you will not deal with the advanced versions of it depending on the subject you pursue.
Consider the difference between a cybersecurity professional who provides security services for a local area network (LAN) and a cybersecurity expert who works on cryptographic methods. The former does not have to deal with a lot of arithmetic, but the latter must comprehend sophisticated mathematical principles related to the area
The majority of modern encryption methods use complex mathematical ideas such as gigantic primes. This implies that if you go into encryption technology, you will be dealing with complex mathematical processes that demand a thorough grasp if you are to succeed.
As a result, cybersecurity today is heavily reliant on sophisticated mathematics to address challenges, particularly in new technologies such as machine learning and analytics. The use of mathematical ideas in the area allows for the smooth completion of your activities.
The types of math you will have to deal with in different fields of the sector are a portrayal of how expansive the field is. Some tasks such as binary and programming may require a basic high school understanding of mathematics. This changes, however, since higher-level math concepts such as calculus take center stage in advanced cybersecurity studies.
Some sectors of cybersecurity like network security correlate the abilities needed in math because both involve figuring out ways to creatively solve problems that arise. The value of math in cybersecurity is that it involves a lot of creativity, and involves solving interesting problems using a variety of techniques rather than just bluntly attacking with a tool.
An example of a mathematical field you will have to deal with in cybersecurity is discrete mathematics. This type of math is essential in computing, addressing knowledge such as sequences, graph theories, combinatorics, (how things combine), and symbolic logic. This allows you to understand the fundamentals of algorithms used by software developers.
Learning discrete maths facilitates the study of algorithms, their implementations, efficiencies, and any loopholes that they may have.
There are different levels of mathematics to be tackled as you grow into a certified cybersecurity expert:
- Associate Degree in Cyber and Network Security – You will primarily be dealing with College Algebra at this level of education. The course work examines algebraic applications and problem-solving abilities, developing the capacity to design, apply, and comprehend mathematical models. Real number properties, inequalities, rational expression algebra, graphing of equations and inequalities, and the properties of exponentials and algorithms are some of the subjects you will study.
- An Associate degree in Cybersecurity focuses on inequalities, functions and their graphs, including linear, rational, quadratic, exponential, polynomial, and logarithmic functions.
- Bachelor’s Degree – Here, the math gets a bit more complex. You’ll have to tackle intermediate algebra, dealing with concepts like the real number system, graphing, equations, exponents, and linear equations. Probability and statistics is also a mathematical field you’ll encounter and will involve statistical reasoning and analysis of data. The application of discrete math and performing data-driven statistics will also come into play.
- Master’s Degree – Typically, once you are at this level, there is much less math to be dealt with. Thing is, you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree to get into a graduate program. The coursework for cybersecurity material, however, concentrates on courses directly related to the field. Examples of topics you’ll encounter at this level are; data protection, network security, digital forensics, cryptography, and e-commerce security.
For a good basis of entry into cybersecurity, a cybersecurity degree is a reliable and tested way to join the industry. A computer science or cybersecurity degree enables you to find work both in the public and private sectors with ease, gaining skills that allow you to transition between sectors with ease.
However, cybersecurity concepts may be learned in a variety of ways. Some cybersecurity experts are self-taught, having learned their trade through activities such as white-hat hacking and online cybersecurity courses on sites such as Udemy. However, this is a tougher road to getting involved. Getting a degree in this field is a more dependable path to joining organizations and enterprises as a cybersecurity expert.
A cybersecurity degree teaches the mathematical principles required to work in this lucrative sector. Various universities offer programs in the subject with various titles but the same course materials. A degree in Computer Science is also a solid way to enter the sector, since cybersecurity is a subset of it, with the former covering it as well as other ideas.
Tech giants such as Google, IBM, and Huawei are another way to earn credentials and skills to practice in the cybersecurity industry. They offer short courses, usually online, and have examinations to test your skills, earning badges and certifications in their respective environments that are highly regarded in the industry.
Huawei ilearning offers competitions to ongoing and graduated computing professionals that can help grow them exponentially in cybersecurity.
While mathematical concepts are important in cybersecurity, there are several other principles and skills that are important in the sector. Security skills such as digital forensics and cybersecurity analysis will be taught as part of a degree program.
A BS in cybersecurity and a BS in Computer Science are the two most popular degrees for cybersecurity professionals. The cybersecurity bachelor’s degree provides a straight path to a cybersecurity profession. As a student, you will learn how to identify, assess, and protect against risks and assaults on data, networks, and information systems.
A BS in Computer Science, on the other hand, is more broad and provides you with greater options when entering the IT industry. It covers software development, algorithms, networks, and operating systems, with some degrees offering specialization in areas like as cybersecurity after that.
A solid grasp of the design and operation of main computer technologies enables computer science graduates to operate comfortably in cybersecurity fields.
While some institutions will offer you a standalone program in cybersecurity, many will offer it as a degree specialization within a program like network administration or computer science.
The name of the program is not usually as important as the contents, and care should be given to ensure you know what skills you will earn in a program before joining.
The learning method may vary depending on your preferences, but the basics you’ll need for your career in cybersecurity are:
- Knowing the fundamentals of cybercrime and forensics
- Studying the ways to protect information systems
- Learning how to use software to monitor and track the illicit activity on networks
- Studying programming, math, and information technology
Given the high demand for cybersecurity specialists, anyone with some knowledge of the subject has a good chance of landing a career in the area. A specialist cybersecurity certificate will give you an advantage over a more general degree. If you have any experience, your chances rise even more.
Tesla, Google, Apple, and Netflix, for example, no longer need potential workers to have a degree. This is due to the fact that cybersecurity is a new and fast-paced industry with few standards, and college degrees cannot keep up with the developments in the area.
So how do you go about joining the profession? Here are some steps that should help guide your entry to the field:
- Certification – While a degree is a good way to start your career in cybersecurity, a relevant certification such as CompTIA Security+ is a good way to kickstart your entry into the field. These confirm that you have some knowledge in the field and are invested enough to learn.
- Prove your competence – One of the most daunting requirements of professions is the need for experience. A question many of us ask ourselves is how do you gain the experience to get a job and gain experience? Well, some ways to prove your competence in the field include trying your hand in things such as developing your projects, volunteering, and taking part in competitions relevant to the field.
- Starting from the bottom – Considering many establishments need a degree on top of other competencies for you to join intermediate or higher-level roles, you might have to accept that you will start with junior roles. The entry-level jobs in the field of cybersecurity you should look out for are; network engineer, junior penetration tester, systems administrator, IT technician, and information security analyst.
You can then transition as you gain experience to roles you could join directly from degree graduation such as:
- Cybersecurity Engineer – As an engineer, you’ll develop and test security solutions, including defense systems such as firewalls and antivirus software.
- Cybersecurity Analyst – You’ll monitor networks and systems and identify potential threats. You will also build safeguards against these threats and protect the systems you analyze.
- Cybersecurity Architect – You’ll establish and enforce user protocols, identifying potential areas of weakness, and establishing countermeasures to protect systems.
With some experience, a few certifications, and a cybersecurity or computer science degree, your growth in cybersecurity is assured, the complex math concepts being a passing part of it. The concepts provide a basis for problem analysis and solutions development.
Truth is, the practical nature of cybersecurity means you won’t be walking around calculating logarithms or plotting graphs but rather analyzing systems, creating protection for loopholes you discover and updating them to face new threats. Otherwise a professional in a field like analytics and big data has worse math nightmares than yourself as a cybersecurity enthusiast.