10 Great Free Online Courses in Cybersecurity – Online Course Report

Share This Post

Cybercrime is a growing problem for individuals and businesses across the board, and the demand for cybersecurity experts has never been higher. With more enterprises moving to online platforms due to the COVID 19 epidemic, there has been a sharp increase in the need to tighten up cybersecurity measures, creating even more jobs for professionals in the field. Individuals and small businesses may also want to protect themselves at home, but lack the knowledge to do so.

Featured Programs

Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link.

The best free online courses in cybersecurity provide a first step toward a potential new career as well as teaching students how to protect themselves and their businesses in our tech-driven society. There are several options to choose from, and we’ve put together a list to help you pick the best one for you. They have been ranked using our exclusive methodology, which was developed specifically for no-cost online coursework.

Following the review, you will find a resource that may help answer your frequently asked questions about free cybersecurity courses. Read on to learn more.

Ranking 10 Free Online Courses in Cybersecurity

Featured Programs

1. Introduction to IT and Cybersecurity

Offered by Cybrary IT

cybrary

This free IT and Cybersecurity training course is four hours and 21 minutes long and is ideal for beginners. The training introduces students to the industry by focusing on the four disciplines of IT and Cybersecurity:

• Systems administration

• Network engineering

• Incident response and forensics

• Offensive security and penetration testing

The course is overseen by Master Instructor at Cybrary, Ken Underhill and Senior Technical Instructor at FireEye, Joe Perry. These industry experts provide one of the best free online cybersecurity courses on our list that’s specifically designed to help those who are on the fence decide about the right career path for them. Students will find the Cybrary platform progresses in a logical, user-friendly sequence using engaging on-demand video.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: Four hours and 21 minutes

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Certificate offered

•Short and engaging

•Drills down to the specifics of each career path in the field

Cons:

•Students must create an account to access the materials

2. Mobile App Security

Offered by Cybrary IT

cybrary

Mobile app security is one of the fastest-growing disciplines within the cybersecurity industry, and this short course also found on the Cybrary platform offers users a terrific overview of this particular specialization. It’s taught by Tony Ramirez, who holds a Masters in Cybersecurity and Forensics from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and it takes just a little over an hour to complete. The goal of the free online cybersecurity course is to teach students with little or no previous mobile app security knowledge to:

●   Understand the basics of mobile threats

●   Explain the various types of testing for mobile app security

●   Develop security baselines within their organizations

●   Begin the journey into the specialty of mobile app security

Cybrary’s sophisticated platform makes learning a breeze, and students who complete the course are eligible for a certificate of completion.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: One hour and 12 minutes

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Take the course in an afternoon

•Perfect for those who want a solid foundation in mobile app security

•Entirely free course to introduce students to a specialized topic

Cons:

•Too short

3. Introduction to Cybersecurity

Offered by University of Washington via edX

edX Logo R Black

This University of Washington course serves as an introduction to cybersecurity for students who want to be literate in the field. Taught by the Director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, it’s designed to be taken over the span of four weeks. Students will learn about the definitions and terminologies within the field, along with:

• Identifying threat actors and why they are motivated to attack

• Understanding the types of controls used to combat the various actors

• Describing the differences among international cybersecurity agencies

•Understanding some of the legal challenges related to the field

Students who successfully pass the free cybersecurity online course can opt to purchase a certification for an additional fee, but payment is not a requirement. 

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Four weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Completed by over 60,000 students

•Offered through a leading university

•Part of a professional certification if students choose to go forward

 Cons:

•Certification requires a fee

4. Building a Cybersecurity Toolkit

Offered by University of Washington via edX

edX Logo R Black

This is the second on our list offered through the University of Washington. Taught on the edX platform, this top-rated free online cybersecurity course delves deeper than some of the others by featuring useful and practical tools for developing skills students can use in their professional careers.  By taking the training for two to five hours a week, you can complete it in about four weeks. The course is intended to teach students the tips and tricks they need to be successful cybersecurity experts and offers a realistic outlook on the industry by focusing on problem-solving and the ability to adapt.  Those who are seeking a good foundation in understanding the practical applications involved in network security will find this to be an excellent choice. It’s part of the paid Essentials of Cybersecurity specialization, and students who choose to move forward have advanced options available. You can opt for a certificate of completion when you are finished, however, this is not a requirement.  

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Four weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Offers practical solutions and tools that students can use in real-time

•Over 20,000 students have enrolled

•Taught David Aucsmith, a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the university

Cons:

•Fee charged for a certificate

5. Introduction to Cybersecurity for Business

Offered by The University of Colorado via edX

edX Logo R Black

For those who are in business and want to understand cybersecurity from a practical, layman’s point of view, this free online course is perfect. It runs for two weeks (it’s suggested to work at the course seven hours each week) and offers a no-nonsense framework of learning that is intended for anyone to understand. From confidentiality, to risk assessment, to the tools and protocols that can keep your business safe, instructor Greg Williams will cover all the basics. 

The edX platform is well known for its ease-of-use, and new students will find the user experience refreshing compared to classes they may have taken in the past. Each course consists of modules full of lectures, readings, and resources in an easy-to-follow format. Students who choose to become certified for this course can do so for an optional fee although it’s not a requirement. 

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 14 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Students of all levels can start the course anytime 24/7

•Sign-up is simple

•Easy-to-follow modules

Cons:

•Free certification is not offered

6. Computer Systems Security

Offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology

asumag 8781 mit logo

Originally presented in 2014, this MIT course is offered entirely free to anyone. It spans a whole semester but can be taken at your own pace, and it’s taught by Professor Nickolai Zeldovich. For those interested in taking a college-level class in cybersecurity online at no charge from a leading university, this is your match. The free online cybersecurity course studies the design and implementation of secure systems and covers threat models, attacks, and tools for achieving the best level of security. Designed for seniors and Master of Engineering Students, it’s pretty advanced, and beginners may find it a little too robust. 

MIT’s open-source classes and lectures are the same ones taught on campus, but you don’t need to be an MIT student to participate. The other advantage to MIT’s OCW is that there are no sign-ups or information to provide. You can start anywhere in your browser and take the course in its entirety or pick and choose the classes you want to participate in.   

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: One semester

Curriculum: Advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•World-class education at no charge

•Self-graded quizzes available to test your progress

•Lots of readings, lectures, labs, and other resources

Cons:

•May be too advanced for most beginners

Featured Programs

7. Fundamentals of Cybersecurity

Offered by SANS Cyber Aces Online

sans

The SANS Institute is one of the leading organizations in systems security. With a goal of growing the overall talent pool of trained professionals, they offer the same curriculum used to train cybersecurity engineers all over the world to anyone who is interested in learning. There is no fee to take the course, and no signup necessary, although there are some basic software and hardware requirements.

The free online cybersecurity course begins by introducing users to the operating systems in Linux and Windows, proceeding on to networking and system administration. Students will learn the skills and knowledge necessary to master the fundamental concepts in cybersecurity and will come away with the ability to strengthen their own home network or begin a career in the field. The materials are regularly updated to both changes in the threat landscape and in technology itself.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Introductory to Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Offered by one of the leading cybersecurity firms

•Gives students a through overview of the technological aspect of the field

•Comprehensive

Cons:

•Certification not offered

8. Cybersecurity for Beginners

Offered by Heimdal Security

heimdal security

This free online cybersecurity course was developed by Heimdal Security and is geared toward home users and enterprises alike. It’s a bit different than some of the other self-paced courses on our list, as this one consists of five weeks of training, with lessons delivered to your email inbox every two days. Six main topics are covered, including:

• Setting up your security system and understanding the jargon

• Tools and tactics to protect you from malicious content

• Detecting and preventing various threats

• Protecting yourself and your children from cyber crimes

• Protecting your email, social media accounts, and personal data

• Avoiding and counteracting harmful viruses

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Five weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

•Offered by an industry leader in cybersecurity

•Perfect for those who want to secure their home or business systems

•Offered via email in small increments

Cons:

•Geared toward end users rather than those on a career path

9. 100W Cybersecurity Practices for Industrial Control Systems

Offered by US Department of Homeland Security

homeland security

The Department of Homeland Security maintains an e-learning portal designed for anyone who wants to learn more about cybersecurity from experts in government. Like all the courses on the platform, the first offering on their list, Cybersecurity Practices for Industrial Control Systems, is entirely free. We also like that students can opt for a certificate of completion. How cool would it be to display a cybersecurity certificate from DHS on your LinkedIn profile?

The free cybersecurity online course covers all the topics you would expect, including standard cybersecurity practices in ICS and the training necessary to identify and resolve potential weaknesses. We also like the fact that protecting both digital and physical aspects are covered, even while traveling.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: Two hours

Curriculum: Introductory to Intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

•Offered via the US government

•Certification is available

•Several other free cybersecurity courses available on the portal

Cons:

Students need to use a business, educational, or government email address to sign up

10. Cybersecurity Training

Offered by Open Security Training

open security

This open source training leaves much to be desired when it comes to user experience and navigating the site may be a challenge for students accustomed to a more structured learning platform. With that said, however, the content available on the site is extensive, which is why we’ve included it as one of the best free resources for learning cybersecurity. 

There are 29 classes, 24 instructors, and 63 days of open source class materials available on everything related to cybersecurity. Motivated learners can uncover some terrific learning tools here by simply clicking around to see what is available. Coursework in network forensics, cellular security, intrusion detection, and hacking techniques are just a sampling of what is available. No sign up is necessary, and courses can be taken at your own pace by jumping in to whatever looks interesting. Open Security Training has classes available for all levels, from beginners to experts. 

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Introductory to Advanced

User Experience: Fair

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

•Something for everyone

•Suitable for those who are looking for an ala carte experience

•No signups or commitments

Cons:

•User Experience could be improved upon

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Online Cybersecurity Courses

10 Great Free Online Courses in Cybersecurity 2

Why Take Free Cybersecurity Courses Online?

There are several good reasons for taking a free cybersecurity course online. For starters, everyone is online these days, and a basic understanding of the inherent security risks and their solutions is simply a smart move for anyone who uses technology. Free online courses offer users the ability to learn how to protect themselves and their companies with no upfront financial investment, so taking some time to learn the basics of cybersecurity is a no-brainer. Beyond that, there are some other reasons to participate in free online classes in cybersecurity:

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Nearly everyone has at least one computer system at home, and most households own several. Cybercrimes are a real threat to families and individuals and knowing how to protect yourself and your children is vital. You wouldn’t leave your doors unlocked for thieves to walk in, and you shouldn’t leave your virtual doors open either. Educating yourself against potential threats and the proper way to solve them is an all-around smart move. 

Protecting Your Business

All businesses, from the smallest to the largest, are vulnerable to data breaches, hackers, DDoS attacks, and other malicious cybercrimes. To protect your assets, a proactive approach in fighting these threats can make the difference between a minor annoyance and a financial disaster. Taking free cybersecurity courses online is one step business owners can take to ensure they are protected. While most larger businesses have their own IT professionals on staff to handle any threats, it never hurts to have a basic understanding of how cybersecurity works.

Pursuing a Career in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing and lucrative fields to get involved with if you have an interest in technology. With so many career choices in the industry, taking some free cybersecurity courses can help students decide if it’s the right choice for them, and which specialization to pursue. No-cost online classes can provide a solid foundation for future educational opportunities by familiarizing students with the language and basic concepts of cybersecurity.

What Careers are Available in the Field of Cybersecurity?

The career outlook for cybersecurity experts is exceptionally favorable, with many different positions available within the industry. While titles vary from company to company, some of the more common positions include:

• Security Engineer: Designing and building network security for a company or organization

• Incident Response Analyst: First response for security issues and breaches

• Security Generalist: General cybersecurity analyst working in smaller organizations

• Penetration Tester: Legal hacking into networks and systems to uncover security vulnerabilities

• Cryptographer: Developing encryption systems for consumer and business privacy

• Network Security Engineer: Working within large organizations to manage the security of their software and hardware networks.

• Security Trainer: Trains others in cybersecurity tools and techniques

• Security Auditor or Analyst: Analyzing and improving upon on the effectiveness of an organization’s security system

According to PayScale, the pay range for cybersecurity analysts ranges from $51,000 to $110,000 per year. Even those with less than a year of experience earn an average of over $61,000 annually on average.

 

Can I Get Into Cybersecurity Without a Formal Degree?

While obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science, cybersecurity, or information technology will improve your chances of finding a high paying job in the field; cybersecurity professionals do not always hold a degree. Relevant certifications and experience within the industry can also open doors to many entry-level positions that offer hands-on learning opportunities. For those truly passionate about cybersecurity, a combination of real-world experience and formal training will likely increase the chances of success in finding the right career in cybersecurity.

 

Will I Earn College Credits by Taking Free Online Courses?

While some free online courses have this option, none of the courses on our list of the best free online courses for cybersecurity award college credit. Instead, they are intended to give students a foundation that can help them move onto accredited coursework or entry-level positions in the field.

 

How Long Do Free Online Courses Take?

Most online courses in cybersecurity are self-paced and last anywhere between a few hours to a few months. The completion times listed are averages only, and you may finish them faster or slower, depending upon your schedule.  

 

Are Free Cybersecurity Courses Worth It?

Definitely. Cybersecurity is a highly lucrative field with a favorable outlook when it comes to job security, and this is one career choice that is positioned to weather the Coronavirus pandemic reasonably well. Students can take free online courses to help them start a new career or gain valuable skills that will be appreciated by their current employer. Even for individuals and business people who don’t want to pursue work in this sector, obtaining the necessary knowledge to protect themselves and their assets against cybersecurity threats is vital in today’s tech-driven world. 

Related: