I'm a student aspiring to pursue a career in the field of cyber security. I'm studying computer science but am very new to the actual industry world.

I've recently signed up for an academy that offers classes and told my mentor that I want to go into security. He told me to take courses regarding networks, operating systems (Linux, Windows, etc.), and then I could go into specific fields (e.g. reverse engineering, web hacking, etc.) He also told me it's highly recommended to get a CCNP certificate on the way if I can. He also added that it might take awhile to get the basics down before going into the actual stuff.

I was just wondering if it's imperative that a cyber security specialist have a deep and strong understanding of networks and OS?

  • 2
    if you want to be a security guard, it helps to know where all the doors are in the building, not just how to watch a monitor - if you want to be a surgeon, it helps to know how the body works, not just how to cut
    – schroeder
    Oct 13, 2017 at 7:09
  • Your mentor is right. Most competent people in this field got into security as a matter of necessity from doing all that boring network and OS-level stuff. You don't need to be a SME but you do need to understand what you're trying to secure...otherwise you'll forever be an analyst.
    – Ivan
    Oct 13, 2017 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


In short, yes, it is very helpful if you have a deep comprehension of networks and operating systems to start with. You cannot secure what you do not understand. Your teacher is right about what they have told you.

Within information security, there are many specific careers you could have -- penetration tester (white hat hacker), security manager (more corporate), cryptography (more math-oriented), systems security (more system admin work), network security etc. Please see the domains of CISSP certification for example: http://library.ahima.org/doc?oid=107038#.WeBKrMiGPIU

I would recommend starting with the basics of networks, systems, and software first and then touching upon the various domains of information security. From there on, choose what you would like to specialiaze in within information security and focus on that.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .