Internet safety is massively important. Global news feeds are consistently filled with a variety of data breaches, coming from all manner of international organizations. It feels like your data is out of your hands. Have you ever wondered exactly how to stay safe online? How you can give your personal data the upper hand in escaping the clutches of hackers?
I’m not going to sugar coat it: if your credentials are stolen, there is very little you can do to stop their resale and reuse. But just as those malefactors would use them against you, there are a wealth of free online resources designed to teach you about basic information security techniques. Your credentials may be filched, but you can absolutely mitigate the potential devastation this brings.
I’ve compiled a list of 6 free cyber and information security courses you can take, right now, to boost your awareness of your online surroundings. Each course is designed for self-learning MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), and come with active communities and lecturers you can direct questions towards.
FutureLean: Introduction to Cyber Security
“Our lives depend on online services. Gain essential cyber security knowledge and skills, to help protect your digital life.” This is an eight week long MOOC designed by the UK government and the Open University, using the FutureLearn platform.
It aims to give you an insight into basic infosec security principles, and expands on how to keep your personal data safe online. As it is a MOOC, you’ll be able to interact with the other students enrolled on the course throughout the same period as you, and it has a pretty active Google+ community, as do most FutureLearn courses I’ve enrolled on. The course is eight weeks long, taking up to three hours of your week, depending on how detailed you want your studies to be.
I took the course last year, and think it is absolutely worth a shout for anyone looking to understand more about protecting their digital life.
Udemy: Cyber Security
The Udemy Cyber Security course aims to provide well-rounded, entry level information relating to important terms and the ideas underpinning Internet security practices. The MOOC is instructed by DeVry University and Professor Robert Bunge, and explores “core technologies such as encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems” and takes around 2.5 hours delivered over 15 lectures.
Like most MOOCs, learning is at your own pace, and the Udemy course takes in a wide variety of security resources, from both the ethical and the hacktivist viewpoints.
Coursera: Internet History, Technology, and Security
This course focuses on a spectrum of Internet technologies, the history behind the Internet, and the necessity of increased and evolving security to remain safe in the 21st Century. The course comprises around 12 hours of video lectures and quizzes, and is instructed by Charles Severance, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information.
Depending on your existing level of knowledge, some of the early weeks may cover information you already understand, such as how the Internet was developed, and why the Internet revolutionized business. However, it all gently trickles toward networking, security, and encryption.
This course isn’t as self-paced as others, as you’ll be required to submit your coursework to progress to the next segment of the course.
Coursera: Cybersecurity and Its Ten Domains
The Cybersecurity and Its Ten Domains course will give you thorough understanding of essential cybersecurity fields, including “governance and risk management, compliance, business continuity and disaster recovery, cryptography, software development security, access control, network security, security architecture, security operations, and physical and environmental security.”
This is a slightly shorter course, coming in at just six hours, but this certainly makes it more manageable for those with time restrictions. Another bonus for this course is the variety of languages available for learning. The video lectures are delivered in English, but come with subtitles for Portuguese (Brazilian), Dutch, and Chinese (Simplified).
FutureLearn: Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, in Life
The University of Newcastle’s School of Computing Science curate this extremely short, three-week jaunt through information security in the modern world. This course focuses on understanding three basic tenets of Internet security: Privacy Online, Payment Safety, and Security at Home.
“As the world is increasingly interconnected, everyone shares the responsibility of of securing cyberspace” – Newton Lee,
While this is a short course, I think it focuses on three specific topics that frequent the headlines, and are at the forefront of many of our thoughts when using the Internet. Who is accessing my data? Will my payment information be stolen? Can hackers affect other areas of my life?
Saylor: Information Security
Saylor provide a MOOC focusing on the fundamentals of information security, detailing core practices in “access control mechanisms, cryptography algorithms, software security, physical security, and security management and risk assessment.” By the end of the course you should be fully able to describe and detail major cyber security principles, critical network infrastructure, and provide the foundation of a basic infosec plan for another individual.
If it sounds like a lot to take on, don’t worry. It isn’t. This course is slightly more detailed than others I have listed, but is by no-means a terrifying learning curve. If you find the terminology and pace of learning too advanced, head back to an alternative course, and return to this one down the line.
Want To Learn More?
Have these free courses piqued your interest? Internet and information security are two massively important, continuously evolving subject areas, both of which are entirely relevant to almost every single individual’s life. While there are serious stigmas attached to the major government security organizations on both sides of the Atlantic, they perform an important role in ensuring national security. We might not all agree on some of their activities, and equally, some of their targets, but for the most part their existence is based upon protecting ours.
Most, if not all security professionals will confirm that a successful career in these fields is built upon a serious knowledge of computing and networking. There are numerous Computer Science sources available online, for free, and they’ll help you understand if a career in cyber security is right for you.
The Internet is a consistently evolving place, as is the security that keeps us safe when using it. As with most things in life, it isn’t too late to learn, and you might be surprised at how much you already understand just through your day-to-day Internet use. Good luck!
Have you taken any Cyber Security courses? Do you have any learning resources you’d like to share with your fellow readers? Let us know in below!