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Top online cyber security courses for 2022

Our top picks from the plethora of cyber security courses available, including a mix of free and paid, and those aimed at experts and beginners

A close up shot of someone pressing a keyboard key on a laptop covered in blue and red lighting

Cyber security continues to be of increasing importance to businesses and organisations of all sizes. With the global shift to remote and hybrid working thrown into the mix, the need for adequately trained professionals has never been greater.

The good news is that there is an expansive selection of online cyber security courses out there to help you sharpen your skills and give yourself a boost in your career. These qualifications will equip you with the know-how to tackle modern cyber security issues such as malware, ransomware, data breaches and more.

Demand for trained cyber security professionals is also consistently high – meaning opportunities are never too far away if you have the skills.

Each course has been picked based either on their community reviews, their convenience, or their flexibility, so whether you’re an absolute beginner or a current IT professional looking to bolster your skillset, there should be a course here for you.

The Complete Cyber Security Course for Beginners: Hackers Exposed

Best for cyber security beginners

A screenshot of a promotional video advertising a cyber security course on Udemy

Organisation: Udemy

Course cost: £59.99 / $79.99 (but can often be found on sale)

Course link: The Complete Cyber Security Course for Beginners: Hackers Exposed

Udemy is an excellent resource for cyber security learning, offering a range of courses to suit varying knowledge and experience levels – and you can often find them at a considerably discounted price via their website.

This particular course is aimed at beginners starting out in cyber security, and promises to teach you how to prevent hackers and malicious attacks, as well as essential IT security and infosec education.

You’ll learn about the spectrum of online threats, including malware, phishing, zero-day vulnerabilities and exploit kits, as well as the secrets of the darknet and dark markets. The course also covers physical and virtual isolation and compartmentalisation as part of the training, covering sandboxes, application isolation, and virtual machines. Windows, MacOS, and Linux systems are all covered.

Before undertaking the course, Udemy recommends a basic understanding of operating systems, networks, the internet, as well as the ability to download and install software.

It’s the first course in a four-part series which, together, Udemy says will equip you with more security knowledge than “80% of security professionals, government and law enforcement agents, and even expert hackers”.

The Complete Cyber Security Course: Network Security

Best for network security beginners

A screenshot of a promotional video for a cyber security course on Udemy

Organisation: Udemy

Course cost: £59.99 / $79.99 (but can often be found on sale)

Course link: The Complete Cyber Security Course: Network Security

Sticking with Udemy’s Complete Cyber Security Course, the second instalment builds upon the basics taught in the first offering and goes into depth on network security.

The course covers the knowledge required for a role as a cyber security specialist, incorporating key network-oriented subjects such as Wi-Fi security and hackers, configuring firewalls, Wireshark, secure networking, and password managers.

You’ll learn how to configure and architect a small network, as well as how to use hacking techniques and vulnerability scanning in order to find issues across the network.

It also gets to grips with implementing different methods of authentication, such as passwords and multi-factor authentication in the form of soft and hard tokens. The course goes into detail on search engine privacy too, including how to mitigate the tracking and privacy issues of search engines and their extended services.

Udemy recommends that you undertake the ‘Hackers Exposed’ course prior to this one but it’s not a requirement if you wish to jump straight in. You can then move on to parts 3 (Anonymous Browsing) and 4 (End Point Protection) should you wish to add further strings to your bow.

BSc (Hons) Cyber Security from the Open University

Best for those looking to build on existing skills

A woman wearing glasses stood in a dark room with lines of code reflected on her face

Organisation: Open University (OU)

Course cost: £19,368 / $25,437 at current prices (flexible payment and funding options available)

Course link: BSc (Hons) Cyber Security from the Open University

If you’re looking to go full tilt into cyber security, or you want to build on your current role in the industry, you may be interested in the Open University’s dedicated cyber security degree.

The course combines networking, cyber security, and digital forensics to teach an understanding of the systems and skills required to prevent or respond to cyber security incidents. With a balance of theory and practical, the degree aims to develop your ability to critically analyse and apply digital solutions to security examination and digital forensic investigations, the OU says.

Although one of the pricier routes, the accredited course represents a sturdy and meticulous route to a career in cyber security - including job roles such as a cyber security technician, IT security administrator, IT security analyst, network architect, software engineer, and many more.

Although based in the UK, the Open University is famous for being at the forefront of distance learning, ensuring location is not a barrier for this course. Neither is time – with part-time learning options for those that wish to continue working alongside study.

LinkedIn Learning

Best for those looking to retrain

A smartphone with the LinkedIn Learning logo displayed

Organisation: LinkedIn

Course cost: 30-day free trial, £29.99/$29.99 per month thereafter, or £239.88/$239.88 for the year

Course link: LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn, the social media network aimed at professionals, is an often-overlooked useful resource for IT courses. The platform’s Learning hub serves up more than 120 cyber security-orientated offerings, ranging from foundational subjects to specific topics for those after a little knowledge boost.

Course topics include cyber security basics, risk management training, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI), threat management, cyber security for SMBs, as well as offerings that focus on the various types of security attacks.

For access to these courses, LinkedIn offers yearly and monthly subscription packages, which work out at £19.99 ($19.99) and £29.99 ($29.99) per month, respectively. Both options provide a 30-day free trial, providing unlimited access to LinkedIn’s course library, exercise files and quizzes, personalised recommendations, as well as full access to LinkedIn Premium.

Completed courses also allow you to show off a certificate of completion to prospective future employers on your job profile.

Cyber Security for Beginners

Best free cyber security course

A screenshot of the homepage of a course by Heimdal Security

Organisation: Heimdal Security

Course cost: Free

Course link: Cyber Security for Beginners

If you’re an absolute beginner and looking to develop your cyber security skills from scratch, Heimdal’s Cyber Security for Beginners is a great place to begin.

This email-based 5-week course will teach you the ins and outs of personal cyber security, with a new lesson delivered to your inbox every two days. There are 20 lessons in total, as well as actionable advice, support, and discounts. The best part is it's an entirely free cyber security course.

The course covers a slew of topics, including how to set up your security system and acquire a basic cyber security vocabulary. There’s also information on security tools, detection and prevention, as well as protecting others from malicious attacks. It also dives into just how cyber attacks work, with details on how to prevent virus infections and counteract the fallout.

Heimdal says the course is suitable for both absolute beginners and those that may already know some of the basics. Although there is no accreditation, this convenient, email-based offering is an excellent place to test the waters.

Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook

Best for course business executives

A screenshot of the homepage for a cyber security course operated by MIT

Organisation: MIT Sloan School of Management

Course cost: $2,800 / £2,132

Course link: Cybersecurity for Managers: A Playbook

Designed especially for business managers and executives, this course from MIT Executive Education serves up a plethora of cyber security training and information to help build a robust cyber security action plan.

The offering lasts six weeks at 5-6 hours per week and has been designed for both the technically minded and those in non-technical positions.

Although one of the pricier options on this list at $2,800, the program offers frameworks that provide a strategic view of an organisation’s risk management and covers up-to-date approaches to managing cyber security. That includes ‘defense in depth’ and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework.

The six modules included provide an opportunity to test out different budget scenarios for protection, detection, and response using interactive cyber security simulation, as well as offering various case studies and examples to maximise the experience. Additionally, you’ll be able to create a personalised cyber security playbook that ties these insights together into a robust action plan for your business.

NextGenT Cyber Security Program

Best cyber security course for intensive training

A thumbnail for a video created by NextGenT for its cyber security program

Organisation: NextGenT

Course cost: $12,500 / £9518 (approx.), or payment plan option

Course link: NextGenT Cyber Security Program

With its Cyber Security Program, NextGenT delivers a military-grade curriculum specially designed to help get you hired. In 14-24 weeks, it focuses on the most in-demand cyber security skills combined with a hands-on approach to learning – and prior networking experience is not required.

Through remote learning, the firm says its students will learn what it takes to become a cyber security specialist or analyst, picking up the skills required to work across the full stack of networking technologies.

The course is one of the pricier options out there with its $12,500 up-front cost – but NextGenT also offers zero payment plan in which you pay back 10% of your salary (48 payments) once you start a role that pays at least $40,000 per year. Anything outstanding after 7 years is written off.

However, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, with previous students having gone on to take roles in huge global organisations such as Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon – and even Disney.

Post Graduate Program in Cyber Security

Best post-graduate cyber security course

The homepage for a course provided by Simplilearn and MIT

Organisation: Simplilearn, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing and EC Council

Course cost: £2,599 / $3,413 (approx)

Course link: Post Graduate Program in Cyber Security

Winner of Course Report’s Best Cyber security Bootcamp in 2021, this post graduate program aims to equip you with the skills you’ll need to become an expert in the field and features comprehensive approaches to protecting infrastructure and data.

It includes key topics such as risk analysis and mitigation, cloud-based security, compliance, and features modules from MIT Schwarzman College of Computing and EC Council. There are also four industry case studies covered by MIT professors, as well as 25+ hands-on projects.

The online bootcamp-style program lasts 6 months at 5-10 hours of study per week and focuses on key skills such as advanced hacking concepts, network packet analysis, mobile and web technologies, IDS firewalls and honeypots, security and risk, management, network security, and more.

The course teaches professionals from a wide range of industries, starting with introductory-level skills before moving on to advanced cyber security technologies.

Cyber Security Foundations

Most flexible cyber security course

A woman sat with a laptop on her knee

Organisation: EC-Council via Future Learn

Course cost: £36 / $39 per month

Course link: Cyber Security Foundations

The FutureLearn platform offers a range of cyber security courses, as well as other subjects across the IT spectrum. Created by EC Council, this particular ExpertTrack offering comprises four mini courses that explore exactly why cyber security is so important and how to identify risks.

EC-Council, also known as the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, is the world’s largest cyber security technical certification body. For £36 ($39) per month via the FutureLearn platform, you’ll be able leverage the organisation’s vault of knowledge to kickstart your career in cyber security.

Spread across 15 weeks, the package covers skills such as IT management, data protection and security, virus protection and recovery, identity and access management, protection against malicious attacks, and more.

Ultimately, by the time you’ve completed the course, EC-Council says you’ll know your way around foundational cyber security concepts and issues, as well as be able to evaluate exactly how to reduce vulnerabilities and risks.

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