Do you Need Math for Cyber Security?

Math in cybersecurity

Do you Need Math for Cyber Security?- Basic math fundamentals used in binary, cryptography, and programming duties are usually all that is required for entry level cyber security jobs. Most cyber security occupations do not require higher-level math concepts like calculus, however they may be necessary in specialised cyber security degree programmes or advanced-level careers.

Let’s look at how much of those basic math ideas we might see in our cyber security professions given that you know advanced math concepts like calculus are unlikely to be a part of your work requirements for a long time.

Binary math – the basis of computer data

Because binary is how computer operations are performed and, more practically, how we determine crucial things like IP addresses and networks, a lot of the math you’ll be required to know in entry level cyber security or support professions will be related to binary math.

So, what exactly is binary mathematics? The translation of any piece of data into a group of ones and zeros is known as binary math. This translation is required because computers can only process binary data. You’ve probably seen something similar before, where a computer can read a string of ones and zeros, such as 100011011001010, and interpret it as a different value, such as a number, text, or picture. In fact, every bit of information on the internet or on any computer device, including tablets and smartphones, is really a collection of binary.

Math is a topic that many people find difficult, and as a result, it may deter some people who might be interested in pursuing a career in cyber security because they believe it needs a lot of math. Let’s have a look at how much math you should know if you want to work in cyber security.

So, is math required for cyber security? Basic math fundamentals used in binary, cryptography, and programming duties are usually all that is required for entry level cyber security jobs. Most cyber security occupations do not require higher-level math concepts like calculus, however they may be necessary in specialised cyber security degree programmes or advanced-level careers.

Let’s look at how much of those basic math ideas we might see in our cyber security professions given that you know advanced math concepts like calculus are unlikely to be a part of your work requirements for a long time.

Binary math – the basis of computer data

Because binary is how computer operations are performed and, more practically, how we determine crucial things like IP addresses and networks, a lot of the math you’ll be required to know in entry level cyber security or support professions will be related to binary math.

Get into the Cyber Security Career now!

So, what exactly is binary mathematics? The translation of any piece of data into a group of ones and zeros is known as binary math. This translation is required because computers can only process binary data. You’ve probably seen something similar before, where a computer can read a string of ones and zeros, such as 100011011001010, and interpret it as a different value, such as a number, text, or picture. In fact, every bit of information on the internet or on any computer device, including tablets and smartphones, is really a collection of binary.

To deal with binary math, you’ll need a rudimentary understanding of algebra based on the power of two, which yields numbers like 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and so on. After you’ve learned how binary works, you’ll be able to understand things like how the number 12 is written in binary as 1100. Let’s look at it more closely:

We can expect the first digit in a simple binary string of four digits to have the value of 8, followed by the value of 4, then 2 and lastly 1, as shown below: 8,4,2,1. When a binary number is set to one, it indicates that the bit is active or ready to count. As a result, a binary string of 1,1,0,0 activates or adds the 8 and 4 values, totaling 12. We don’t use the commas in the example when writing the binary, thus we get 1100, which indicates a value of 12.

Hexadecimal math – Another way to represent data

You’re probably aware that in binary math, each character could be either a one or a zero. Another prevalent math-based notion in cyber security is hexadecimal, which is based on the assumption that we can count up to 16 different alternatives. These selections are numbered from 0 to 15, giving us a total of sixteen options. We have to represent everything from 10 to 15 as something else, in this case using the letters A through F, because our one-digit numbers only go from 0 to 9 (10 takes up two digits).

10 = A

B = 11

C = 12

D = 13

E = 14

F = 15

With this in mind, we can see that if we want to tell the computer we’re talking about the number 12, we’d input the letter “C.” If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that the number 12 can be represented in binary as 1100 or in hexadecimal as C.

Of course, stringing multiple of these characters together to produce larger numbers is the next step, but what we’re looking at here is the foundation of how hexadecimal works. The idea is that anyone can learn binary and hexadecimal with a little practise, and you won’t even need to finish Calculus III to do so.

Math required for computer programming

The majority of entry-level cyber security positions will only require basic computer coding or programming, but if you do have to code something, you’ll have to do some math. A lot of this arithmetic is related to programming principles like constraints, variables, and reasoning. For example, you may see something like this in computer code:

IF value < 0 THEN

PRINT “less than zero”

ELSEIF value > 0 THEN

PRINT “more than zero”

ELSE

PRINT “exactly zero”

END IF

Obviously, this is a very basic example of computer code, but you can see how understanding mathematical reasoning and how a computer interprets information like this is required. Many computer science degree programmes that focus on programming include higher level math subjects since computer code may get quite complex. Again, this isn’t always the case with cyber security degree programmes, but some programming degrees that combine cyber security and computer science will necessitate some advanced math training.

Math in Cryptography

Cryptography is the science of codes and encryption, and it is an important aspect of cyber security and data protection. The arithmetic employed in cryptography can range from the most fundamental to the most advanced, depending on the application. The amount and difficulty of the math you’ll have to work with will depend on how far you decide to go in your profession, just as it did in the math examples above. The following is an example of fundamental cryptography:

A = A

B = B

C = C

Then we can use a cryptography principle called ROT (rotation) to solve the problem. Maybe we’ll use ROT2, which simply implies that everything rotates or shifts by two, resulting in:

A = C

B = D

C = E

To decode the data in this case, someone would need to know that you’re employing a rotation of 2. Again, the math can get a lot more complicated, but it’s not nearly as difficult as it is in other professions like computer programming or engineering.

Is math on certification exams?

The majority of entry-level cyber security certification examinations only demand knowledge of the basic math principles covered in this article. If you want to get any of the basic CompTIA certifications, such as A+, Network+, or Security+, you’ll need to know what hexadecimal and binary are and how they work in a secure network. Other certificates, such as the Cisco CCENT or CCNA, or Microsoft’s MCP, are similar.

Associated Issues

Do I need a college diploma to work in cyber security? To get a job in cyber security, you don’t need a degree; instead, you’ll need to find another way to learn the necessary abilities and demonstrate them to an employer. Furthermore, if you do not pursue a college degree, your long-term employment possibilities will most likely be limited. See our post on cyber-college degrees for more information.

What should I look for in a cyber security programme at a college? Any college cyber security curriculum that provides a realistic timetable and hands-on lab practise chances where you can master the skills is worth considering. Exam cram programmes or boot camps that are prohibitively expensive, or programmes that only allow full-time enrolment, may not be the best option for most people.

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.