5 Best Online Cybersecurity Courses

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Cybersecurity is a growing field, with many IT professionals now looking to jump ship and pursue a career in the so-called darker arts of computing. This has led many online platforms to begin offering courses in this field, and in this guide, we will be comparing the best that the internet has to offer.

Before we get into the courses themselves, however, let’s first take a look at why an online course may actually be a better option than more traditional learning paths, such as university or apprenticeships. If you are already familiar with the benefits of online courses, feel free to skip ahead. If not, however, be sure to familiarise yourself with the next section, as it should provide you with some valuable knowledge.

Why choose an online course?

There are a number of reasons to pursue an online course over traditional education. However, most of them will usually fall into one of two categories; time or money.

These two categories tend to be the biggest drawbacks of traditional education, with many students plunging themselves into thousands of dollars worth of debt and committing years of their life to earn their degree. Many students also struggle to cope with the stress of university life, leading some of them to drop-out and give up entirely.

The truth is, however, that many of these drawbacks aren’t all that bad. For example, if the field of study has a high employment rate, the investment is arguably a worthwhile one, as the chances of getting employed once you graduate is high. A three or four years investment of your time for a potentially long and prosperous career in your field of choice also isn’t a bad trade-off all things considered.

Despite all of this, there are still plenty of individuals out there who refuse to accept more traditional learning paths and the best option for furthering their careers. After all, why pay all that money if you don’t need to? And why should you need to invest all that time if it isn’t necessary? This is where the arguments for online courses get their weight, especially when cybersecurity and other computing subjects are concerned.

The fact of the matter is, unlike professional of some other fields of study, cybersecurity practitioners don’t rely so heavily on formal education. This is because many of the skills and requirements needed to become a cybersecurity professional can be self-taught either through trial and error or by following online tutorials and courses.

Employers are aware of this as well, meaning a degree isn’t always a necessary requirement to break into the field. In fact, many of them prefer to hire their candidates based on their practical ability rather than their qualifications, with many interviews involving demonstrations and problem-solving tasks designed to show a candidate’s competence in the field.

Qualifications are, of course, still a necessary component of the selection process. However, many individuals are now finding their way into cybersecurity professions by obtaining their skills and knowledge through online courses. This means they are not only saving a considerable amount of money but time as well.

The other big benefit of online courses is that you can structure them to suit your lifestyle. This means you can still work another job while you complete the course, allowing you to avoid losing out on money. This is especially useful if you have a family to take care of. However, you will need to be extremely disciplined and highly organized to truly benefit from online courses in this case. Otherwise, you risk not spending enough time on your studies, or even worse, enough time with your family.

In other words, if you would rather not invest a ton of money and commit 3+ years of your life to learn the craft, online courses are for you. They provide a cheap alternative to learning, and a level of flexibility not found with more traditional forms of education. Many of them can be completed in far less time as well, and some are even accredited, giving them more weight when added to a resume or C.V.

Best Online Cybersecurity Courses

CourseMaterialSupportPrice
Cybrary Introduction
to IT & Cybersecurity
  • System administration
  • Network engineering
  • Incident response and forensics
  • Offensive security and penetration testing
  • Video lectures
  • Syllabus
  • Study guide
  • Glossary
Free
Coursera Introduction
to Cybersecurity
  • Cybersecurity as a discipline
  • Pros and cons of security through obscurity
  • Basics of identification and authentication
  • Develop a lifelong learning plan
  • Video lectures
  • Financial aid available
Free
Heimdal Cybersecurity
for Beginners
  • Cybersecurity basics
  • Antivirus tools and techniques
  • Identifying and eliminating security vulnerabilities
  • Personal data protection
  • How to avoid and counter malware infections
  • 20 lessons delivered by email
  • Actionable advice
Free
SANS Cyber Aces Online
  • Operating systems
  • Networking
  • Systems administration
Video lecturesFree
Harvard Cybersecurity:
Managing Risk in the
Information Age
  • Cybersecurity risk
  • Identifying threats to an organization
  • Identifying important business systems and assets
  • The role of leadership in managing cyber risk
  • Understanding your technology
  • Cyber risk and the law
  • Incident response and accountability
  • Designing and implementing mitigation strategies
  • Video lectures
  • Payment options
$2800

1. Cybrary Introduction to IT & Cybersecurity

MaterialSupportPrice
  • System administration
  • Network engineering
  • Incident response and forensics
  • Offensive security and penetration testing
  • Video lectures
  • Syllabus
  • Study guide
  • Glossary
Free

Cybrary is one of the most popular online platforms for cybersecurity enthusiasts, offering plenty of information on the topic, as well as several courses. Many of these courses also happen to be free. However, the more advanced options on the site will likely set you back a few dollars, unless you are able to subsidize the cost.

The course we have decided to focus on here is Cybrary’s Introduction to IT & Cybersecurity program. This course is a great option for anyone new to the field, as it teaches many important fundamentals, as well as a few more advanced skills.

The main topics covered in this course include system administration, network engineering, incident response, and penetration testing. The course also covers a few basic forensics concepts. However, its material in this area is quite basic, focusing more on theory and terminology rather than practical skills.

The course is delivered via online videos, which break down the course into sections. This makes the material fairly easy to work through, However, if you get stuck, Cybrary also provides a study guide and a glossary to help you out. There is also a syllabus available to you, although, this serves as a basic outline of the material, rather than providing any comprehensive information.

The course is one of Cybrary’s free options on the platform, meaning you can enroll and complete the while thig without spending a thing. This makes it a fantastic course to try, as even if it turns out to be underwhelming, as you won’t have lost out on anything other than a few hours of your time.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Rather basic in its approach, but it teaches the fundamentals and provides a good foundation to build from.

2. Coursera Introduction to Cybersecurity

MaterialSupportPrice
  • Cybersecurity as a discipline
  • Pros and cons of security through obscurity
  • Basics of identification and authentication
  • Develop a lifelong learning plan
  • Video lectures
  • Financial aid available
  • Free
  • $30 a month

Coursera is an online platform specializing in offering courses in all sorts of subjects. Technology courses, such as the Introduction to Cybersecurity course, is one of the better options on the site, with over 11,000 students enrolled and a rating of 4.7 at the time of writing.

The course focuses heavily on giving more of an overview of cybersecurity, meaning it doesn’t delve too deeply into advanced practical skills. However, if you re starting from square one, it still serves as a great option to get you introduced to the subject.

There isn’t a lot in the way of support available with this course, but in truth, there really doesn’t need to be. All of the material is delivered through videos and due to its more theoretical nature, this format works well at providing the information in a clear and concise way.

Coursera features a subscription policy costing $30 a month. The platform also includes a free seven-day trial period for new members, however, meaning you can try out the course, without needing to commit any money to it upfront. The course itself is said to take around two months to complete, meaning you will likely spend a total of $60 to complete it.

Rating: 4.4/5.0

This isn’t a bad course all things considered, but its subscription policy and somewhat basic material will make it a hard buy for some.

3. Heimdal Cybersecurity for Beginners

MaterialSupportPrice
  • Cybersecurity basics
  • Antivirus tools and techniques
  • Identifying and eliminating security vulnerabilities
  • Personal data protection
  • How to avoid and counter malware infections
  • 20 lessons delivered by email
  • Actionable advice
Free

Heimdal is another company specializing in cybersecurity education. The platform takes a more professional approach than some of the others in this guide. However, it’s material is very concise, making it a great option for anyone looking for to the point information.

The material on this course is quite practical, giving you the opportunity to learn skills in areas such as antivirus and personal data protection. You are also taught how to avoid and counter malware infections, as well as ho to identify and eliminating security vulnerabilities.

The lessons for this course are delivered daily via email, giving you a set amount of work to get through each day. This is a great system if you struggle you organize yourself, as Heimdal essentially handles all of this for you.

Another benefit of this course is that the whole thing is free. This means there is no pressure on you to pass because of a pricey investment, meaning you can simply disregard it if you decided it isn’t for you.

Rating: 4.8/5.0

Well structured and practical. This course offers everything you need to get started in cybersecurity.

4. SANS Cyber Aces Online

MaterialSupportPrice
  • Operating systems
  • Networking
  • Systems administration
Video lecturesFree

SANS Cyber Aces is an online course dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of cybersecurity in an easy to understand way. The course has been donated by SANS from their library of professional development curriculum, meaning it is free of charge and full of useful information.

The material covered on the course focuses on operating systems, networking, and systems administration. This makes it rather specific in its approach compared to some fo the other options in this guide, however, this will likely benefit you if you are completely new to the subject.

The course, like many others, is delivered via video lectures, allowing you to work through the material at your own pace. There isn’t much in the way of extra support, however, meaning you will need to search elsewhere on the internet if you get stuck.

Rating: 4.8/5.0

This course is both well structured and well designed, giving you the opportunity to learn crucial skills and obtain plenty of useful information.

5. Harvard Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age

MaterialSupportPrice
  • Cybersecurity risk
  • Identifying threats to an organization
  • Identifying important business systems and assets
  • The role of leadership in managing cyber risk
  • Understanding your technology
  • Cyber risk and the law
  • Incident response and accountability
  • Designing and implementing mitigation strategies
  • Video lectures
  • Payment options
$2800

Harvard is one of the most famous universities in the world, offering excellent curriculums in a variety of different subjects. The institution offers several online courses as well, with its cybersecurity program among its best options.

The course covers various cybersecurity topics, including risk, organization threats, cyber laws, incident response, and how to design and implement mitigation strategies. The course also focuses on identifying important business systems and assets as ell the role of leadership in managing cybersecurity risk. This makes the course rather well versed in its approach covering both practical and theoretical areas of the craft.

There isn’t a lot of support available for the course. However, you are given some payment options to help you financially if you are struggling to pay for it. At the steep price of $2800, this course certainly won’t be for everyone. However, if you are looking for an online course that offers both skills and credibility, this is an excellent option to consider.

Rating: 4.6/5.0

A superb course with plenty of high-quality material. However, it comes with a high price tag that many won’t be able to afford.

0/50 ratings