Best free cybersecurity courses online

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Why get free cybersecurity training?

If you're looking for personal development or education on a budget, you can do a lot worse than training yourself up in cybersecurity. And the best part is, there's a lot of free training materials and courses available online.

But why train in cybersecurity in the first place? The answer may seem obvious, but: opportunity. The positives of the digital explosion has resulted in the negatives of security concerns, both in business and personal terms. Governments and corporations are desperate to ensure their digital assets are properly protected, so that consumers can go to and buy from them in confidence.

Yet as we've seen over the past few years, there has been story after story in the news about big-brand companies losing data, being hacked, or otherwise losing out to online hackers.

And as global trade becomes increasingly digital, so the risks continue to increase. The result is that the stakes have become so high for both governments and corporations that both have been happy to support or even fund initiatives to train up more cybersecurity specialists.

This means there are a huge number of employment possibilities, and not all of them are being filled.

So if you're looking to further yourself, or just looking for a job or career with some longevity and better pay than burger flipping, then there are a lot of work opportunities available for you in cybersecurity.

The problem is that there are many courses online, many of which are charged for, that aim to-rightly or wrongly-exploit the demand for training up the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. However, there are also plenty of courses available that provide free training, some of which are backed by national governments.

Here, therefore, we'll list some of the top 10 cybersecurity courses to consider signing up for, and all of which are free.

Image Credit: SANS

1. Sans Cyber Aces Online

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.

Image Credit: Cybrary

(Image: © Image Credit: Cybrary)

2. Cybrary

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.

Image Credit: DHS

(Image: © Image Credit: DHS)

3. US Department of Homeland Security

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.

Image Credit: Open Security Training

4. Open Security Training

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.

Image Credit: Udemy

5. Udemy

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. 

Image Credit: Future Learn

6. Future Learn

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.

Image Credit: Heimdal Security

7. The Daily Security Tip

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”. 

Image Credit: Heimdal Security

8. Heimdal Security

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.

Image Credit: Coursera

(Image: © Image Credit: Coursera)

9. Coursera

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.

Image Credit: Edx

(Image: © Image Credit: EdX)

10. MOOCs

There are a couple of different places you can go to for a MOOC in cybersecurity. One worth highlighting is EdX which has a number of courses on cybersecurity at present, including IT Fundamentals for Business Prossionals, and Building a Cybersecurity Webkit. There are also other courses detailed at MOOC-List.