Big Differences Between Computer Science and Cyber Degrees- There has never been a better moment to work in IT than now. Thousands of organisations are seeking for expert techs in practically every industry in IT, whether it’s programming, networking, Cloud infrastructure support, or pen testing. Your job prospects are excellent, and you have a wide range of career options.
In the end, investing in a degree is a sensible decision. Although you may get decent employment with just a few years of experience and a few certificates like the CompTIA A+, Security+, or Network+ on your CV, having a Bachelor’s degree adds to your worth on the job market and often counts as work experience.
A degree often qualifies you for higher-level jobs and higher income, and some firms do need one. Without a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline, the US federal government will not hire anyone for IT-related professions.
But, of course, the big question remains: should I pursue a degree in Computer Science or Cybersecurity?
Depending on your point of view, both have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at some of the most evident distinctions between a Computer Science degree and a Cybersecurity degree.
Computer Science requires advanced math classes
That sounds more like a disadvantage than a benefit. The arithmetic, not the philosophy, is the most frightening aspect of Computer Science degrees for many students. Hundreds of IT professionals have complained that they were obliged to take calculus as an undergraduate but have never had to apply calculus in their professional lives.
On the other hand, there are CS graduates who claim calculus assisted them in solving a vital programming challenge. Because programming is primarily reliant on calculation and reasoning, it stands to reason that knowing calculus would be useful in certain instances, especially for software engineers.
You may also be required to take complementary math topics, such as an introduction to discrete structures, in addition to calculus. You should be aware that many colleges regard precalculus and calculus programmes as “weeding out” opportunities—in other words, the classes are extremely difficult and time-consuming. Hey, only the best should pursue a career in computer science. Right?
If you major in Cybersecurity, on the other hand, you won’t have to worry about high-level arithmetic at all. You’ll only ever need that one general education math class, and you’ll probably never have to look at another logarithm again. Don’t worry, you’ve got some enjoyable tasks ahead of you!
Cybersecurity frequently requires a solid understanding of network systems
You’re probably thinking that after all that calculus rhetoric, you’d prefer to remain as far away from computer science as possible. Reconsider your position.
Calculus is difficult, but I’d say it’s on par with understanding how computers communicate over a network, knowing how to analyse those conversations (data packets), and recognising when network traffic is anomalous.
In several cybersecurity professions, you’ll be doing just that. Whether you’re a pentester, a network analyst, or a solely managerial job, you still need to know how networks work because internet exposure is a big security concern.
Many cybersecurity degrees necessitate prior computer networking knowledge. A networking class, like calculus, takes a long time to complete. It won’t be one of those classes where you can get by with just a few additional hours of studying (you know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t, you will).
Networking, like cybersecurity, necessitates a significant amount of effort and focus. You must be prepared to not just memorise but also to put what you’ve learned into practise, maybe by configuring your own workstation, switch, and router. You’ll very certainly be requested to use PuTTY or another client programme to analyse packets.
As a cybersecurity student, you’ll need at least a rudimentary understanding of networking, which can be as difficult as mathematics.
In computer science, get ready for a lot of theory
If you want to learn more about computers and why they function, computer science is the profession for you. While cybersecurity focuses solely on computer vulnerabilities and how to guard against them, computer science educates you to the fundamental components of computers.
You’ll learn about compiler theory, current trends in computer science, object-oriented programming, and how to build computer algorithms as a computer science student (compilers translate between a programming language and machine code).
You’ll be the one who understands how memory stacks function and can convert between decimal, binary, and hexadecimal. With a computer science degree, you’ll also be the person who knows how to connect with computers, which is one of the most important professions in IT.
While understanding how a computer works is important, you won’t spend as much time on theory and development in a cybersecurity school as you would in a computer science programme. Your job in cybersecurity is to safeguard a system, not to build it or understand how it works.
In cybersecurity, you learn how to be a hacker
True, but don’t get too worked up over it. You’re an ethical hacker, which means you can only hack if your target is aware of what you’re doing and gives you permission. Otherwise, you may find yourself in significant legal problems.
It may seem contradictory, but knowing how to think like a hacker is essential if you want to be a successful cybersecurity expert. That could imply a variety of things. For starters, you must be aware of the most prevalent weaknesses targeted by hackers. This could imply:
- Network ports that are often utilised
- Security flaws in software
- Vulnerabilities in web scripting
- Cyber-attacks that are commonly used (Man in the Middle exploits, Denial of Service attacks, Zero Day attacks, etc.)
That’s a long list, and believe me when I say it doesn’t even scratch the surface. Cybersecurity threats are always changing, and keeping up with them is nearly hard for a cyber specialist. The only option is to learn how hackers exploit systems using the tools at their disposal.
You won’t need the in-depth understanding that computer science requires, but you will need to be able to spot weaknesses on a fundamental level.
Cybersecurity students need to know Linux
You’re going to find out if you don’t already. Linux’s tools and capabilities (such as Kali, a Linux distribution designed specifically for cybersecurity work) are helpful to a cybersecurity practitioner. Whatever area of cybersecurity you want to specialise in, you’ll need to know Linux.
Linux is required in almost all cybersecurity undergraduate programmes. Although you may or may not practise using genuine security features, as a beginning, you will become accustomed with using a CLI (Command Line Interface). Knowing how to use a system’s CLI allows you to control specific computer functions with just a few key commands.
Although Linux is a great tool for interfacing with computers, its significance in the subject of cybersecurity is more basic. Because Windows runs on the majority of today’s computers, the majority of circulating viruses and malware are built for Windows platforms. While Linux systems are not invulnerable, they are less vulnerable to conventional threats (the same general rule applies to Mac computers as well).
While computer science students should be familiar with Linux, there isn’t a pressing necessity to know it. Students studying cybersecurity will spend more than one semester learning how to utilise Linux.
Computer science students are basically prepping for software engineering
A software engineer is a type of computer programmer who creates software and computer systems. Students in computer science perform a lot of programming and experiment with a variety of languages.
Code Project defines object-oriented programming as a “design philosophy.” Object-oriented programming, to put it simply, “uses a new set of programming languages than old procedural programming languages,” which means you’ll have to learn Java, C++, C#, Python, or another high-level language.
In the gaming sector, OOP languages are often utilised. If you look up major video game producers like Bethesda Softworks or Rockstar Games, you’ll see that object-oriented programming languages are listed as preferred languages in their engineer job descriptions. Do you want to work for ZeniMax Online Studios as a UI engineer? You should use C++ as your programming language.
Students majoring in computer science are fluent in one or more object-oriented programming languages, which is a highly sought-after ability in today’s job market. On the other hand, while knowing a programming language is a plus, cybersecurity students are not needed to have the same level of ability as computer science students.
Cybersecurity students need to be ethically aware
The abilities you gain as a cybersecurity student put you in a good position to protect an organization’s assets, but that knowledge isn’t without risk. While they may not hurt or steal anyone’s data, some students are motivated to hack other people’s computers merely to prove that they can, the repercussions if they are detected can be severe.
Many cybersecurity degree programmes demand that students grasp their legal and ethical boundaries. Without this knowledge, it’s far too easy for a competent pentester to inadvertently cross the boundary. The last thing you want is to go to jail for something you didn’t intend to do.
Cyber education begins with respecting others’ limits and ensuring that you understand what you are permitted to perform as a cybersecurity professional. It’s vital that students remember what distinguishes them as cyber defenders from cyber attackers, not just for the purpose of the company, but also for their own personal safety. It’s all too simple for an innocent bit of fun to turn into a hack with major ramifications for the perpetrator.
Which is preferable: a degree in cyber or a degree in computer science?
Finally, it is absolutely up to you to make that decision. You’ve probably observed that, with a few exceptions, computer science and cybersecurity curricula are very similar. They both necessitate computer knowledge, memorization, analysis, and a lot of hard work. Employers throughout the world value both degrees if they are earned with devotion and practise.
However, you should keep in mind that computer science and cybersecurity are vast subjects. While both degrees provide a foundation for comprehension, actual mastery in either discipline is entirely up to you.
For example, cybersecurity is a subject in which you are always learning new things. Just because you have a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean you’ve learned everything there is to know. You’ll be continuously looking into new cyber risks and the best strategies to safeguard your company from them. You’ll be constantly researching new software that improves cyber defence.
It’s entirely up to you. Do you want to be a software engineer or a cyber professional? Any option is viable, and if you’re ready to put in the effort, you’ll succeed in either profession. Based on your specific experience or certifications, you may even earn a computer science degree and wind up working in a cyber profession. You may easily end up inventing security features for software as a cyber specialist.