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Does Cyber Security require alot of math?

Lets just say I am no math buff, It has to be my worst subject.
I have always had a hard time with mathematics,and I am curious is Cyber Security require alot of math or not.
cybersecurity computer-security computer-networking computer-and-network-security cyber-security

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Marianne’s Answer

Hi Nickolas,

Being a Junior in High School and thinking about this long term is a great start to a great future!

Like Farrah, I also work at PwC in Cybersecurity and complex math is primarily reserved for individuals working in cryptography (very small portion of cyber jobs). There is some leverage of math when doing computer forensics as well, however that is nowhere near the calculus you are nervous about.

I did undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Information Systems and then a Master's in Cybersecurity. Both of the undergraduate degrees were out of the business school. The only time we got into math was the two subjects I mentioned above and some in coding. This led me to jobs doing incident response, security tool implementation, security strategy, and security architecture.

The other route you could go is through the computer science field, which will drive you more into coding and, consequently, math. This is useful for jobs which require secure code reviews, penetration testing, etc.

Ultimately, there are SO many jobs in cybersecurity right now and so there is flexibility in following the path that suits you best. I also encourage you to reach out now and ask to shadow people doing jobs that sound interesting to you. Usually, people are willing to show you what they do and it will help you decide what path you want to go on.
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Stacy’s Answer

Good question, Nickolas! Having self awareness about both your interests and skills/abilities will help you as you make career decisions - it's great that you're asking yourself these types of questions before fully jumping into a degree program.

Requirements for mathematics will depend on school/degree program, so the most helpful way to find this information would be to take a look at the degree plans at the university where you will do your studies. Schools will have these posted on their program websites (e.g., UT-Dallas's degree plan for Computer Science can be found here: https://catalog.utdallas.edu/2017/undergraduate/programs/ecs/computer-science#degree-requirements). A lot of schools will have a minor, certificate, or concentration in cybersecurity that you'll do in addition to or alongside a more general major (e.g., Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, etc.). Generally, it is my understanding that there is a fair amount of math involved in training within the field of computer science, especially when you start looking at degree options that require in-depth training in programming (e.g., it looks like UT-Dallas requires at least up to Calculus II). So, a degree in Computer Science will likely require more math than a degree in Computer Information Systems.

Keep in mind that most schools will have resources like tutoring and supplemental instruction available to students. People's definition of being bad at math really varies. You will know you best - so, if you think having a bit more support would help you get through the math courses you'd have to take, this would be something worth looking into.

Additionally, I would suggest conducting an informational interview with someone who currently works in Cybersecurity to get an idea from them about what their day-to-day job is like and how that matches with your interests/skills.
Thank you,I am a junior in High school and I am currently making up credits from last year like geometry,And when I read calculus II my jaw dropped. I definitely need to make sure I get a tutor for math. Nickolas L.
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Marc’s Answer

I have never used anything above algebra during my entire 30 year IT career, the past 11 in cybersecurity, per se. Understand at least logic (they teach that in Geometry) because you'll need that for scripting/programming firewalls and Splunk.

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Farrah’s Answer

Hi Nickolas,

I am an Associate in the Cybersecurity & Privacy practice. I studied finance for my undergraduate degree. In my day to day work, I do not do a lot of work related to complex math. However, it is always useful to have additional skills. I'd say it is best to develop both technical knowledge and an understanding of the implications of cybersecurity to business with courses related to IT, computer science, management information systems, and business administration.
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Kevin’s Answer

Most of the folks answered the question already so I'll take a different perspective. For cybersecurity, I would say critical thinking and being methodical in understanding and assessing technical and business impact is an important skillset to have in this field. Also, being able to communicate, both verbally and in writing, is key to being successful. A talented security practitioner can take very complex issues and articulate them in a digestible components so that a security program can drive key bodies of work (to reduce security risk for a company).
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Scott’s Answer

Practically speaking, unless you're going deep into cryptography, the math demands aren't going to be that high.
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Theresa’s Answer

Cybersecurity covers a number of roles. The math needed will be highest if you are interested in cryptography or the methods in which computers use encryption. If you are interested in penetration testing you will need some higher math for developing exploits but mostly you need to be able to think outside the box for that job. The majority of the time in Cybersecurity you will not be using advanced levels of math.
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Tina’s Answer

Thankfully, No! Unless, like the prior comments suggest you go into cryptography. Basic math is all you need.

The field of security is broad and most roles depend on basic math skills . Understanding vulnerability percentages and look at trend statistics pretty much cover it.

If looking into this field and still in school, I would recommend a statics course but it is not necessary. Communications and the ability to communicate effectively are crucial.
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Joshua’s Answer

Depending on what part of Cybersecurity you want to go into, there may not be a lot of math involved. As time progresses, most of the tools we use are becoming more and more user friendly, requiring less user computation, and more architectural thinking (how you would deploy and maintain them). On the Enterprise side, the thought process is more "how can I see all the things", then "how can I affect change on all the things". Less math, more higher altitude thinking.

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