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Computer Science degree vs. anything else?

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jakx

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Post Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:56 pm

Computer Science degree vs. anything else?

Hello all,

I am currently in my second year of college and i was wondering what you all think about what type of degree to get from a school that does not offer a network security degree. I have talked to many people on this topic and i have people on both sides. I am just wondering what it would be wise to major in for a position in network security. More specifically i am leaning toward pen-testing because i cannot get enough of it. From doing tests in my own lab to reading forums and books on exploits, techniques, etc. i feel like sleeping gets in my way of learning haha. Anyways what do you guys think? Computer Science or something else such as business administration or something?

Thanks in advance
jakx
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apollo

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Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:44 pm

Post Sun Oct 05, 2008 1:45 pm

Re: Computer Science degree vs. anything else?

I would say that there are probably a few routes that wouldn't be bad.  Computer Science is kind of interesting, personally I learned a lot about programming theory, while not as much about good programming practices, secure programming, and common pitfalls.  I was able to pick up a fair amount of networking theory, so I guess part of choosing a major depends on what you want out of it.

Of the people I know who are doing pen testing and information security things, many of them came through other IT functions, such as networking and sys-admin.  One of the great things about college is that the atmosphere of learning frequently doesn't stop at the classroom.  If you can find a part time job working with an IT group or something like that and find a mentor who will help you learn more about enterprise environments, what your degree is in may not matter as much.  When it comes to IT security, I think that in many cases, people are going to be looking for people with experience first, then a degree second. 

Another great option is to find a co-op opportunity through your school with a local company who has an infosec team who is taking either summer students or co-ops.  I've worked with summer students before and that's another opportunity that will end up being whatever you make out of it.  You probably will have to do some stuff that isn't as fun but is something that needs to be taken care of, but walk in and do the things that you're tasked with and show that you know your stuff and then suggest things that you'd like to be involved in. If you show that you are capable, those folks are probably going to be good references for you both technical and employment wise in the future.

The biggest thing is though, college isn't just about the classes.  You have a whole lot of resources at your disposal as far as professors, staff, and other bright students.  Make the most of all of it, and don't forget to have some fun along the way.
CISSP, CSSLP, MCSE+Security, MCTS, CCSP, GPEN, GWAPT, GCWN, NOP, OSCP, Security+
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jakx

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Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:20 am

Post Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:49 pm

Re: Computer Science degree vs. anything else?

good stuff. Thanks for the reply!
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dalepearson

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Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 10:03 am

Post Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:54 am

Re: Computer Science degree vs. anything else?

My degree was Computer Science and Information Management.
The main thing here is that there are also some business modules available which I think are always of a benefit, you need to understand the business requriements, the lingo etc if you want the budget.

This was a fair few years ago now so I dont know what things are like now, especially outside the UK. My only knowledge is that of the work I am doing on a foundation degree course, on giving some tutoring and advice on subject matter.

I would choose a degree that has a good variation of modules, so you can tailor it to what you want to get out of it. I still have arguments internally as to is a degree worth it or not, and I still have mixed opinions.

More so now I think its a case of everyone else has them, so you need one to, for interview consideration.

All the best with it though.

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