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Best Online Security Courses For Beginners

written by

Jack Foster

last updated

March 15, 2021

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Cybersecurity is a huge issue for individuals and businesses alike. Don’t believe me? I’ll let the stats do the talking…

  • Since COVID-19, the United States FBI reported a 300% rise in reported cybercrimes (CNBC)
  • There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds (Security Magazine)
  • 95% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error (Tech Republic)
  • Organisations spend $3.86 million (about £2.9 million) recovering from security incidents (IBM)

The statistic about human error is very interesting, isn’t it? It shows that if we all just make an effort to educate ourselves, we could wipe out the majority of cyber breaches! 

There are lots of ways you can protect yourself online, from setting up two-factor authentication to using a reliable VPN such as NordVPN. Of course, your exact approach depends on your network and the nature of the data you’re protecting. 

However, it all starts with education! This will give you the knowledge you need to act more responsibly while handling and storing data online. Plus, you may even find that it opens the door to a great career.

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Why does a career in cybersecurity make sense?

The main reason why a career in cybersecurity is a good option is that the demand far exceeds the supply at the moment, and this has been the case for quite some time! The growth rate is a lot higher than compared with other industries. In fact, it is believed that there will be 3.5 million unfilled jobs created by the end of the year in this domain. 

If your main motivation is money – and let’s face it, who doesn’t want a high paying job? – cybersecurity will not disappoint. Professionals in this sector can make as much as $243,610 per year, depending on their training. 

Plus, it is a fun and exciting industry to work in, as it is changing all of the time. You’re doing work that is also incredibly important. After all, you could end up saving a business from huge reputational and financial damage, so it is all critical work!

What traits do you need for a career in cybersecurity?

If you have decided that cybersecurity is the path that you want to go down, getting a degree is only part of the process. You also need to make sure you have the right skills and characteristics for the job. Some of the most desirable traits for this career are as follows:

  • You need to be a continuous learner – The world of cybersecurity never remains the same. It is changing all of the time. Therefore, you need to be a continuous learner.
  • Analytical – Of course, you are also going to need to be exceptionally analytical. You need to be able to read between the lines. 
  • Instinctive – You also need to be instinctive to have a career in this realm. This means that you need to be quick thinking, aware, and have an innate desire. 
  • The ability to work under pressure – The truth is that a career in cybersecurity means you are probably going to be working under pressure all of the time. This is why you need to be someone who is able to handle this sort of weight on your shoulders. 
  • Persistence – You cannot give up while working in cybersecurity. The problems are going to be incredibly challenging, and you have to get to the bottom of them. 

 

Top 6 cybersecurity courses for beginners

If you’re looking to get involved in cybersecurity, whether you want to carve a career in this industry or you simply want to broaden your knowledge so you can protect yourself, there are plenty of great courses out there. I have put together my top picks to give you a helping hand:

#1 | StationX

The first place that I recommend for anyone looking for cybersecurity courses is StationX. They have approximately 100 different courses for you to select from, so you are bound to find the right learning experience for you. This includes courses in incident response, digital forensics, security coding, networking, penetration testing, and much more. 

stationx

Some of the different courses you can expect include:

  • The Complete Cyber Security Course! Volume 1: Hackers Exposed
  • Hands-on Penetration Testing Labs 
  • Intro to Linux Shell Scripting
  • The Complete Ethical Hacking Certification Course – CEH v.10.
  • CISM – Certified Information Security Manager
  • Python For Ethical Hacking: Develop Pentesting Tools

The best thing about joining StationX is that you do not have to pay for every course separately. Instead, you sign up to the platform and you will get unlimited courses to select from. With this access, you can learn at your own pace and you can cover as few or as many cybersecurity topics as you wish. 

To enroll for the VIP Membership, which gives you complete access to all of the courses, it costs $1199 per year. As well as getting access to over 1,000 classes, exam simulations, practice tests, and virtual labs, you will also have full-time staff who can answer your questions and a detailed email consultation, amongst many other benefits.

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#2 | Udemy

Udemy is another platform that has an extensive selection of courses to select from, yet I should point out that there is no accreditation with Udemy. However, the courses are in-depth and there are extensive learning opportunities. 

udemy

Udemy is not purely for cybersecurity. There have courses covering the likes of JavaScript, web development, and Excel, amongst others. However, you will find a good selection of courses covering data threats and security. 

In terms of pricing, you will need to purchase each course individually. However, Udemy often has special deals running, meaning you can pick up a course for the fraction of the typical price. 

There are some really great courses for those who are just looking to get started, such as the Cyber Security Crash Course for Beginners: Learn From Scratch.

Does Udemy sound right for you?

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#3 | Pentester Academy

Another resource that I recommend if you are looking for a good assortment of cybersecurity courses is Pentester Academy. They provide high-quality courses at affordable prices, with interactive labs available.

pentester

Some of the top courses include the likes of:

  • Windows Process Injection for Red-Blue Teams
  • Attacking and Defending Active Directory
  • Windows API Exploitation Recipes: Processes, Tokens, and Memory RW
  • Hacker Project: SMS Controlled Pentest Bot
  • DevSecOps: Insecure Docker Registry

These courses work on a subscription model, rather than paying for each course individually. You can either pay $99 per month or you can subscribe on a yearly basis for $299, which will certainly save you a lot of money if you intend to take numerous courses. 

With the yearly plan, there are a number of added benefits that you will get as well, including downloading course videos, 100 video plays per month maximum, access to all content, a private lab environment for every user, unlimited lab access, and over 2000 AttackDefense Labs. This is designed for a single user.

I should also point out that there is an Enterprise plan as well. This is for multiple users, and you will need to get in touch with Pentester Academy for them to provide you with a bespoke quote. You get everything in the yearly plan, as well as some extras, including priority support, an account manager, monthly usage reports, and a dedicated portal for your team. 

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#4 | Coursera

If none of the suggestions mentioned so far are what you are looking for, you may find that Coursera is the perfect platform for you to advance your learning.

Coursera

On Coursera, you will basically be presented with numerous courses as part of one specialization. You can choose to take all of the courses within the specialization, or you can select specific courses. The choice is yours.

When it comes to cybersecurity, there is the specialization that is called Introduction to Cyber Security, and this is a great place to begin if you are looking to get started in the industry.

There are four different courses that are part of this specialization. These are as follows:

    • An Introduction to Cyber Attacks – This course will provide you with a basic understanding of vulnerabilities and threats, as well as an overview of how data breaches are conducted.
  • Cyber Attack Countermeasures – The second course that you can take is one that will teach you all about cryptography and the basics of cyber defense, which includes the likes of public-key cryptography and authentication solutions.
  • Real-Time Cyber Threat Detection and Mitigation – This is the third course that is available as part of this specification. You will learn all about real-time cybersecurity techniques, including looking into detecting and preventing some of the most common types of breaches.
  • Enterprise and Infrastructure Security – This is the final course that is offered as part of this specialization, and it is an introduction to the more advanced side of cybersecurity. You will look at the likes of mobile security, issues in blockchain security, and enterprise compliance frameworks. 

This specialization has been very well-received by those who have taken it so far. In fact, it has a 4.7-star rating out of 5, which is based on 2,980 reviews.

In terms of pricing, there are two options; you can either pay for each course individually or you can sign-up for Coursera Plus and pay a yearly subscription fee. This costs $293 per year, representing great value for money in my opinion. Plus, there is a 14-day money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with your subscription.

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#5 | Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook

Another course that comes highly recommended is Cybersecurity of Managers: A Playbook. This has been specifically developed for executives, managers, and company leaders who are in both non-technical and technical positions and looking to create an action plan so their organization can become more cyber-aware and cyber-resilient.

Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook

Business consultants and technology experts, as well as those acting as liaisons between business units and technology, will also benefit.

No technical prerequisites are required to take this course, so that makes it open to anyone, which is always a plus point.

In my opinion, this program is suitable if you’re looking for ways to bring more cultural awareness to your business. If you are a general manager or a business leader, this program will help you to foster an appreciation of how decisions made by technologists can impact your business, develop the cybersecurity vocabulary to support informed conversations with technology leaders, and help to create a culture of cyber awareness in your business. 

Should you be a technical leader, you will also find the Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook helpful. It will provide you with a practical interpretation of the tradeoffs between privacy and security, as well as a method for understanding your organization’s priorities. It will also cover key approaches in terms of cybersecurity management and provide frameworks that offer a strategic view of cybersecurity risk management at your company.

How much does cost Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook?

The only course runs for six weeks, and you will be required to commit between five and six hours per week. You can check out the website to find out when the next course begins. The cost is $2,800 for this course. There is the option of flexible payments, which means you can spread the cost to make it more affordable to you or your organization.

Does Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook sound right for you?

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#6 | Cyber Aces Online

If you are interested in cybersecurity, you have probably heard of the SANS Institute before. This is an organization with an outstanding and impeccable reputation in the information security industry. In fact, they have been carrying out educational programs and research for over three decades now. Therefore, the trusted name associated with Cyber Aces Online should fill you with confidence.

The company does offer in-person training if this is something you are interested in. However, the great thing about their online courses is that they do not cost a penny! That’s right; they have some fundamental cybersecurity courses that are available free of charge. They do this because they want businesses, teachers, schools, and individuals to benefit from strengthening their approach to cybersecurity. 

So, while this is probably not going to be sufficient if you are looking for the best training to start your career in cybersecurity, you have certainly not got anything to lose. You will be able to delve into the world of cybersecurity and learn all of the basics. This can be used to ensure that your business is operating safely. It can also be used to dip your toes in the water and determine whether or not this is going to be the right career path for you to go on.

The course will cover the following three areas:

  • Module 1 – Operating Systems – The first module will concentrate on command line usage, teaching about the commands and concepts in Linux, as well as advanced Windows use.
  • Module 2 – Networking – This module will provide details on the fundamentals of attacks on computers, as well as the corresponding defense from a network standpoint. You will discover more about the protocols that are used in every OSI layer, especially with regard to the networking layers. 
  • Module 3 – System Administration – The final module will teach you about the different administrative functions when it comes to popular scripting environments. 

As you can see, it is a good course to start with if you’re looking for a beginner’s insight into cybersecurity. 

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Final words

So there you have it: an insight into some of the best cybersecurity courses for beginners. I hope you have found a course that appeals to you! Taking some form of cybersecurity training is something I would recommend everyone to do, as we all need to take steps to protect our personal data. The last thing you want is to be yet another statistic! 

FAQ about cybersecurity courses

I often receive questions from people who want to know more about getting involved in cybersecurity, so I will answer some of the most common ones below:

Are cybersecurity courses difficult?

To pass a cybersecurity course, there are a number of technical skills you will require. One of the most difficult things about cybersecurity, though, is that it is changing all of the time. Therefore, you need to keep up with an ever-adapting landscape. 

Can I learn cybersecurity by myself?

A lot of the professionals in the cybersecurity industry are self-taught. However, as this part of the industry has gained more and more traction, employers are looking for people who have undergone the necessary training to get their qualifications in this field. The best thing you can do is get the training you need but continuing to learn yourself as well.

How do I get a job in cybersecurity?

The first place to begin when it comes to getting a job in cybersecurity is to get a degree and earn certification. Having the right training and qualifications is imperative. After this, you will need to acquire a security clearance. The final part of the puzzle is to keep building your way up the ladder by acquiring experience. 

Do you need to have a strong math background to work in cybersecurity?

It is important to have a good comprehension of math to work in this field. Statistical and analytical math, in particular, are important. 

Does cybersecurity pay well? 

According to Digital Guardian, you can make between $65,000 and $130,000 per year while working in cybersecurity. Of course, depending on the path you go down and whether you set up your own business, you may be able to earn more. 

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