Which degree and the future of security

theducktheduck Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey all!

I've asked similar questions on a few subs on Reddit, but I haven't received much feedback - in case anyone thinks I'm spamming the internet looking for advice icon_cool.gif

I'm an entry level guy right now, working as a Network Tech in a school district while going to school for the second time, with the intention to graduate this time. My plan is to transfer out of my current school and program (CompSci @ DSU online) and to WGU. It's MUCH more affordable, among some other benefits.

Aside from that, I need to choose an area to focus on. I've done a fair bit of dabbling, and figured out that I like programming AND system administration. I have heard a lot of buzz about the future of mobile apps, web apps & web 2.0, the cloud, and IoT - so it seems like these will be hot areas in the future of security and I'd like to start preparing now, so that I don't fall behind. Other than my current job and about 42 college previously earned college credits, I've been doing IT/programming on and off since I was a kid and currently hold a Network+ cert.
I have a few questions that I'm hoping you guys could help me out with:

  • Is this a correct assessment of where the security field will be going? I'd like to one day shoot for a job as a pen tester, exploit developer/reverse engineer, etc - if these will still be relevant. I understand that these are all different jobs, but I don't know yet where I want to specialize - and the general point is that I like breaking stuff, taking it apart, and really finding out how it works.
  • Outside of security, I see myself enjoying software development slightly more than life as a sysadmin; I like writing android apps a little more that creating servers and programming switches. With that and the intention of getting into security one day: would pursuing a degree (and subsequent job in a related field) in the software development (BSSD) benefit me more than one in IT: Security (BSIT: Security)? I know that security takes a while to really get into, so I'd like to find a path to it that is both relevant and enjoyable for me.
  • Especially given my last question, am I even thinking about this the right way?

I know this is a lot, but ANY advice that you guys may have will be greatly appreciated.


  • jt2929jt2929 Member Posts: 244 ■■■□□□□□□□
    You've figured out what you enjoy doing (programming and sys admin), so that is step 1 complete.

    Bullet 1- I think your assessment is fair. pen testing and the rest won't be going away any time soon and there are plenty of certifications to obtain in those subjects.

    Bullet 2- I say go with the degree that you will enjoy completing more. From my experience, a degree in a security related field won't get you hired, experience + ANY degree will. For example, I work for a defense contractor. Our FSO(Facility Security Officer) has a bachelor's degree in Art History and Master's in communications. Security related? Not in the least bit. But he started out as a security guard and worked up from there. Just get your foot in the door.

    bullet 3- I think you are. Get the degree in something you enjoy, get certifications relevant to what job you want to do, and get your foot in the door in a security gig.

    These are only my opinions and they may be one-sided since I've worked for the same company since I got out of college, but you're on the right track.
  • ClmClm CISSP | CCSP | CCSK | AWS Architect Professional | AWS-Security Speciality | Terraform Associate Member Posts: 444 ■■■■□□□□□□
    In my opinion the title of the degree don't really matter. So a degree in IT,CS,CE,Cyber,ISM,IS and all the other variants. If you notice most job requirements say one title and then say or any related fields so that's a catch all. Some of the smartest people I have met In IT don't even have degrees in a related field. your experience and the classes you take are the most important.
    I find your lack of Cloud Security Disturbing!!!!!!!!!
    Connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/myerscraig

  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I'd advise against getting a degree only in security. Without the necessary experience employers won't hire you and when you apply to non-security related position people believe you will be bored. That is exactly what happened to me and it seriously lengthened my job search time. My suggestion would be to go for software development and take any security related electives that are offered. That way you have a general programming degree and can show you specialized in security.

    Ultimately do what pays the bills and keeps you interested. Note the order I put those two items in: pay bills and interest. Your interest doesn't always equal paying the bills so sometimes you have to do other things. But if you like programming and don't care for system/network administration then do programming.
    Intro to Discrete Math
    Programming Languages
    Work stuff
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    You like programming and sysadmin work, have you looked into DevOPs? Maybe a future in system and task automation? As for guessing the future of security, good luck, I don't mean that in a rude way either. IT changes constantly, there are always some base things that are the same, but don't expect going to school now will set you up for 20+ years. In 5 years things will be different, in 10 they could be drastically different. Think about what you enjoy now and be prepared to transition in the future.
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,298 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Artificial Intelligence.
  • beadsbeads Senior Member Member Posts: 1,520 ■■■■■■■■■□
    The more immediate future of security will be in both the SDN and IoT realms, sorry to say. Our perimeters are becoming farther and farther out from the organization and neither of these two technologies is going to help much in that regard. Once your lovely Android device with access to say both your insecure thermostat and the organization's sensitive data at the same time, well Houston. We have a problem, don't we. That's where DevOps will really shine.

    Oh! And I love the Android vulnerability that left nearly a billion phones open to attack. Got your work cut out there securing those things. And those thermostats, the fridge, oven... blah, blah so the CEO can look into the pantry and decide what s/he needs to order from the grocery while the unpublished annual report is also open on the computer. Yessiree Bob! Plenty of future abuse just awaitin' to happen!

    As for a degree. Look to getting a broad base CS or IT background and allow your career to develop over time. IT has always been a hot degree of the year kind of field and generic degrees will still be a relevant degree in 10-30 years. Least one get a computer degree in electronics repair or consumer analytics. Security may be hot today and will likely be overrun with gold rushers like teachers in the 1960s; Engineers in the 1970s; MBAs in the 1980s and 90s as well as CS grads in the 1980s and dot bomb era after 2001. We are on an up cycle today and these things change over time.

    To echo Grinch above: "I'd advise against getting a degree only in security. Without the necessary experience employers won't hire you and when you apply to non-security related position people believe you will be bored." Plus one.

    Security is incredibly fast paced. Interesting and filled with interesting people - generally alpha techs who will eat their young to survive. That's putting it mildly to say the least.

    OK folks who enjoy sending me those down votes and PMs. Sail on brothers! icon_cheers.gif

    Miss anything?

    - b/eads
  • theducktheduck Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for all the info and opinions, guys. Given my situation, all the thinking I've been doing, and your guys' advice... I'm going for the Software Development degree. Of all the technology degrees at WGU, it covers the general IT stuff the best, has the most interesting classes IMO, and seems to be the most relevant for the immediate future. And thanks for making me think even further ahead - who knows where things will be in 10 years from now.

    Also I maybe should have clarified a bit - the BS:IT Security degree has security in the name, but is really more of a IT Networking degree. I have definitely always wanted to avoid the trendy security degrees - things like a BS:Cyber Security - for the reasons a few of you have already spelled out.

    Just for the extra info, here's what I would have at graduation for each degree that I was looking at. This is in addition to Network+, which I already have:

    - A+
    - Security+
    - Project+,
    - Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7 Programmer- Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 7 Programmer

    IT: Security:
    - A+
    - Security+
    - Project+
    - Linux+
    - CCNA
    - CCNA:S

    Even though I have chosen Software Development (at this point, still have about a month to decide before I start), I still find Linux+, CCNA, and CCNA:S to be valuable - I plan to get Linux+ in the next year and then maybe the CCNAs later. Just wish I could mix and match classes to get them through WGU, but it doesn't work that way.

    Again, thanks for all the responses thus far!
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