What is the level of math required needed by a Security Analyst?



  • I have been learning Cyber and Information Security for a while now, from different sources and courses. While there is a lot of theory, no high-level math seems to appear anywhere, apart from basic algebra and the "programming math" (graph theory

    I came here to ask the experts, is there a huge chapter I'm missing, where high-school level math is needed, or is Cyber Analysis simply an application of the theory, definitions, scenarios, and predictions.



  • Titles like "Security Analyst" are pretty vague; each company will have their own job requirements, and there is not as far as I know any standard per se. In practice, I've seen "security analyst" be a fancier-sounding version of "security engineer" (which encompasses everything from system design reviews to penetration testing to writing vulnerability detection tooling), I've seen it mean specifically somebody who reviews intrusion detection systems and other logging for signs of attacks, and I've seen it mean a compliance auditor for things like PCI DSS. I'm sure there are other meanings I haven't seen.

    However, one thing that all the uses I've seen have in common is that higher math is basically irrelevant. Some of these tasks require being able to read and even write program source code and/or assembly, and some require a working knowledge of applied cryptography, but none require that you be able to implement any primitives and it's very rare to even see an implementation to review. I haven't professionally used my calculus, much less linear algebra, since graduation.

    That said, the ability to think algorithmically and follow steps of logic is pretty important. Being able to compute time and space complexities can also help with things like noticing DoS risks. A bit of statistics can be useful when considering the likelihood of an attack, and trying to figure out where to set detection thresholds. None of this is typically taught in high school math (so far as I'm aware; some school systems might go into it). It doesn't require any more background that that, though (and possibly less).



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