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I want to work in cybersecurity, which is the best ~ Computer Science or Information Technology? Please help. I am confused

I want to work as a cybersecurity enginner. Which major is better IT or Computer Science.
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Lauren’s Answer

There are many schools that allow you to major specifically in cybersecurity. Penn State University is one that I know of for sure!

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Sindhu’s Answer

Vidhi, as Lauren says if you know you want to work in cyber security, there are dedicated cyber security programs at many schools. If you have already been accepted into a school that does not have a cyber security program, I think either an Information Technology (IT) or Computer Science degree can lead you to a career in cyber security. IT usually touches all aspects of technology including hardware, software, cloud computing, storage, etc. Computer Science on the other hand is more focused on application development, programming, and computing theory.

It depends on what kind of job you would like in cyber security. There are many different options such as maintaining a security system, creating/maintaining and ensuring compliance of security policies, managing risks, and protecting a network. So if you know which area you’d like to specialize in, a specific degree can be helpful, but if you are not sure which cyber security area a this point, I think most employers are looking for a technical-oriented degree and either an IT or computer science one can help you get started.

Sindhu recommends the following next steps:

Research cyber security careers (online and talk to people in the field)
Determine areas of interest within cyber security
Research which programs at your chosen school(s) best support your areas of interest (IT, CS, Cyber)

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Tellissa’s Answer

I am a continuous quality improvement specialist for a huge hospital system and our information technology department is made has a great cyber security component as there is always someone out there trying to hack our system. So, i have to agree that if there is not a cyber security program at the school you are in (not sure if you are) then please go with information technology!

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Chitra’s Answer

There are various areas in CyberSecurity where you can launch a successful career.

Threat Hunting ( Monitoring the activities to identify threat activities)
Vulnerability Management ( Constantly monitoring the infrastructure for vulnerabilities and keeping them updated with patches)
Incident Response ( Cross functional role to work with various teams in security incident scenarios)
Ethical Hacking / Penetration Testing ( Working as a consultant/employee to conduct authorized security testing on infrastructure, product)
Security Engineering ( Enable engineering to develop secure product and features)
Compliance & Enterprise Risk Management ( Work with Auditors & cross functional teams for successful outcome of security audits)

For most of these areas, Computer Science major would give you a solid foundation with courseworks on Operating Systems, Programming Languages, System architecture. You can try and channelize your major on Cyber Security. I will recommend you to follow Cyber Security related news feeds to stay aware of industry happenings.

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Hari’s Answer

Both Computer Science and Information Technology are good fields to start the foundation and to move towards Cyber Security. This field has grown much bigger and is very vast. It depends on which field you are interested in cybersec and would like to move forward.

Some of the areas to focus (secure) include :
- network (internal and external)
- application and its infrastructure
- data security / leakage protection
- log analysis
- threat hunting
- risk management etc.

Good luck and best wishes :)

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Brian’s Answer

Hi Vidhi,

I work in the GRC arm of information security and have a BS in IT. When it comes to what degree will hold the most weight in the professional world I would say either option is equally acceptable for most cases. Some additional considerations that will help get your foot in the door are:

1. Network as the first priority
2. Attain certifications in the niche cybersecurity field you would like to pursue. Sec+ is a good intro cert to get followed by something like CCNA security, CISSP, OSCP, CEH, or GIAC.

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Ava’s Answer

I’m a business information systems major at Lehigh University (great program!) I recently learned about cyber security in one of my BIS courses. You can definitely go either way depending if you like the analytical side more or the hardware computer part more. Personally, I recommend going into information technology, as it is an emerging field with plenty of opportunities right now, and then minor or take some computer science courses.

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Mark’s Answer

Either one will work but I would recommend a CS degree. That will give you a deeper understanding of application development and "how code turns into a program", which might be more helpful for security work and will give you a code level and machine level understanding of how different exploits work.

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Cheryl’s Answer

Cyber Security has many domains. If possible narrow down to the industry that may be interested in, select a few company and see if they have internship programs. Many larger companies will offer internship programs where a student may rotate throughout examining several disinclines to see what area may be of most interest. Where I work, we have Network Information - data lakes, Information and Security Analytics, Incident Response, Impact and Risk.

Cheryl recommends the following next steps:

Happy to have a 1 on 1 conversation to tailor my answers specific to your needs.

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