Best free cybersecurity courses online

Free cyber security courses
Image credit: Pixabay
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The widespread use of IT infrastructure across the world has created opportunities for business and employment, but on the darker side it has also created cybersecurity issues.

It's not simply that there are so many different IT systems as well as a vast number of applications, but also the different ways these communicate over networks

The result is that there are many potential security vulnerabilities that can develop if software patches are not kept properly up to date, if ports are left open, or if users are able to access files they should not have permission to.

The fact is that there are so many different areas where IT security can be compromised, and the more complicated the IT infrastructure being used, the greater the risk.

This means that experts in cybersecurity have become increasingly in demand, to the one where it is commonly claimed that cybersecurity is one area with zero unemployment. Demand very much outstrips supply.

However, becoming an expert in cybersecurity requires a combination of qualifications and experience, and while achieving certificates can help build up a career to provide that experience, there are a bewildering array of course and training options for studying cybersecurity.

There are many paid courses, but there are also a large number of free ones made available online to fill the skills gap. Some of these are simply introductory, intending to simply help you become more acquainted with the technology and terms used. Others are more in-depth and can lead to properly accredited qualifications.

Here we'll showcase a range of different cybersecurity courses aimed at a range of levels, so that you can find the best ones to suit you. And best of all, these are all free and available to study online.

Image Credit: SANS

(Image credit: Cyber Aces)

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 credit: 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 credit: 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

(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

(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

(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 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 credit: 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.