10 free online cybersecurity courses you should take

Knowledge is power, but it’s also expensive. In a day and age where it’s essentially required that everyone have a college education, you have to be able to either afford the experience or the coursework. 

Of course, time is money and if you have any to spare, it’s oftentimes just as valuable to certain course administrators. 

A quick Google search will tell you that there are thousands of cybersecurity classes that you can take online for free. While that may be the case, however, there are only a handful that you should take, and we’ve picked out 10 resources that provide complimentary education to all the aspiring Kasperskys out there.

These lessons vary in their levels of formality and professionalism. The US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity official training and exercises, for instance, are bound to be rather more dense than, say, Udemy’s level-one cybersecurity course for beginners (see slide 5). 

Nevertheless, the end goal remains the same: learning more about the digital defense protocols of the modern era in an attempt to surpass college students shelling out more than they need to for their academic redundancies. 

Some of the options you’ll find here can lead to paid formal education opportunities, whereas others are completely free introductions to the world of cybersecurity. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of the choices.

It’s undeniably basic, and yet Sans Cyber Aces isn't far off the mark when it says that it offers the best free online cybersecurity classes on the web. 

After reading through a series of comprehensive entries about operating systems, networking and system administration, you can register for a quiz that puts your expertise to the test. Should highlighted talking points such as installing Linux virtual machine software or basic PHP, Bash and PowerShell web scripting pique your interest, you’ll be in for an engaging lecture.

As the name suggests, Cybrary is an online library for cybersecurity, IT and other InfoSec-related study materials. After creating a free account, you get access to almost 500 courses, each ranked by their difficulty and all of them free. 

You can filter classes by level – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced – or by vendors like Cisco, (ISC)2 and Microsoft. Whether you want to learn the fundamentals of malware or the art of the Jedi mind trick, both of those curriculums are given equal prominence in Cybrary’s extensive course catalog.

The US Department of Homeland Security is an obvious source of cybersecurity expertise, but you may not have been aware that you don’t have to travel all the way to the United States to benefit from the vast experience of US government security experts, or that you can do so for free.

The DHS has a calendar full of training events you can attend in Idaho Falls, but for everyone who doesn’t live in the midwestern US there’s an entire portal of online courses available to those involved in the security of industrial control systems.

Its website looks like what you'd get if you took all the slideshows and teaching materials from a university cybersecurity department and uploaded them to a domain sporting the most minimalist user interface of all time, but Open Security Training is host to a range of intermediate and advanced classes, along with a swath of beginner lessons that any newbie would be a fool to pass up.

There’s a whole rundown on the x86 and x64 architectures wielded by Intel processors, along with introductions to topics along the lines of cellular security, network forensics and vulnerability assessment.

Typically, courses on Udemy cost money, but we’ve found a few worth checking out that won’t put a dent in your bank account. There’s a Cybersecurity law primer, for example, that we think could be beneficial to anyone wanting to know the ins and outs of cybersecurity ethics. The Cybersecurity course for beginners – level one could also be advantageous to take, not only for cybersecurity enthusiasts but for anyone who want to learn more about the subject.

The Introduction to Cyber Security course from Future Learn, owned by the UK-based Open University, is available to take at any time on any schedule, and is accredited by UK Government intelligence organization GCHQ, global accreditation and examination institute APMG International, and The Institute of Information Security Professionals.

Future Learn also offers a free three-week online course called Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, in Life, designed to teach the essentials of maintaining security and privacy online and at home.

It’s not exactly a class or an educational institute, at least by conventional standards. What The Daily Security Tip is, though, is an email-based learning tool produced by Heimdal Security that sends you a nugget of cybersecurity-related advice every day, with the ultimate goal of making you safer both online and off. 

It’s completely free to sign up, and the creators of The Daily Security Tip claim that “there’s a 96% chance you’ll enjoy it”. 

From the same firm that brought you The Daily Security tip comes Heimdal Security’s Cyber Security Course for Beginners. Although this, too, is email-based, its syllabus is significantly more extensive than that of The Daily Security Tip. 

The Cyber Security Course for Beginners delivers a new lesson every two days for five weeks, and all without the need to pay back any tuition loans. In terms of content, it aims to give you step-by-step advice for keeping your personal data out of nefarious hands.

More of a free trial than a free class, Coursera’s cybersecurity specialization was created by the University of Maryland to bring the underlying concepts of the construction of secure systems directly to your web browser. 

It consists of five courses in total, each of which can take several weeks to complete. These range from Usable Security to a Cybersecurity Capstone Project, so it’s safe to say that they'll require you to already have some intermediate cybersecurity know-how under your belt.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a hot buzzword these days. A MOOC is a university-taught class that's completely free of charge to anyone with the free time to spare, and there are a lot of cybersecurity MOOCs to choose from, from a wide variety of schools. 

Notably, Excelsior College has an introduction to cybersecurity class that lasts eight weeks and is suitable for both educators and professionals. Elsewhere, Cornell University has a MOOC called Privacy and Surveillance In the Age of Interconnection, studies the evolution of privacy concerns and user rights.

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