Online Cyber Security Courses Learn the ins and outs of cyber security online

expert contributor

Electronic surveillance, identity theft, hacking – these are just a few of the cyber security threats at work today. Given our reliance on computers, mobile phones and the Internet, these problems are pertinent to almost anyone, including a large number of professionals working within the information technology field. Knowing how to combat cyber security risk is a valuable skill, both personally and professionally. Online cyber security classes are a convenient way to gain additional knowledge and add professional credentials to your resume. Read on to learn more about what online cyber security courses are available.

Search Online Cyber Security Courses

With so many cyber security classes and programs available, how can one narrow their options? Our search tool is designed to make finding an online cyber security class much easier. Users can find their ideal courses based on factors such as price, topic and class duration.

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Side-by-Side: Types of Online Cyber Security Classes

Some students choose to pursue cyber security courses that offer certificates of completion that they can add to their resumes, or simply for the wealth of information that can be gained. Still others consider cyber security their ultimate career goal, so will seek out for-credit certificate or degree programs. Here’s more information on various types of cyber security programs and who might take them.

Certificate For-credit Informational
What is this type of class?
Certificate classes provide students with something tangible to verify their knowledge. Some no-cost informational classes offer certificates for a fee. For-credit classes are generally, but not always offered through traditional college degree programs. Credit-based cyber security classes can advance or supplement one’s learning. Informational classes are designed to enhance enrollees’ knowledge of cyber security. College courses available for students to audit online can be considered informational.
Who takes this type of course?
Certificate classes are useful for professional development and marketing when a degrees are unnecessary, non-existent or not readily available. Students enrolled in formal degree-granting programs in related majors. Students who seek personal development of cyber security skills without the need for formal credentials.

10 Best Online Cyber Security Courses

There are numerous online cyber security courses, though topics, length and format can vary significantly. The following list highlights a 10 of the high-quality cyber security classes along with basic information helpful to those deciding which options best suit their goals.

Introduction to Cyber Security
  • Offered by: Udemy
  • Price: $50
  • Length: 55 lectures spanning 13 hours
  • Format: Video lectures
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

An introductory course that covers advanced cyber security topics. The curriculum begins by defining cyber security and outlining its evolution. Students will study weaknesses and vulnerabilities in popular information technology systems and how to attack and protect them.

Cryptography
  • Offered by: University of Maryland via Coursera
  • Price: $49
  • Length: Seven weeks
  • Format: Video lectures, reading assignments and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

A foundational class that provides an overview of cryptography, the course begins with fundamental concepts of cryptographic systems then advances to practical applications. Due to the mathematical nature of cryptography, a strong background in mathematics is recommended for incoming students.

Software Security
  • Offered by: University of Maryland via Coursera
  • Price: $49
  • Length: Six weeks
  • Format: Video lectures
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Students will review various aspects of software security, including different types of security measures and how they might be compromised. This course is ideal for students with some prior coding experience.

Usable Security
  • Offered by: University of Maryland via Coursera
  • Price: $49
  • Length: Seven weeks
  • Format: Video lectures and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

For a security system to work, it must be practical to use. Usable security is a course that takes hardware and software security concepts and applies them to real-world use. Students will also gain fundamental knowledge regarding human-computer interaction.

Applied Cryptography
  • Offered by: Udacity
  • Price: Free
  • Length: Eight weeks
  • Format: Instructor videos and exercises
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Applied Cryptography is an advanced course that applies cryptographic concepts to real life situations. From making telephone calls to protecting financial information when using a credit card, this course will teach students how cryptography works, can fail or be misused.

Cyberwar, Surveillance and Security
  • Offered by: University of Adelaide via edX
  • Price: Free (audit) or $50 (verified certificate)
  • Length: Six weeks
  • Format: Video lecture
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This law-based course examines how people are monitored online. Multiple viewpoints are presented, as are new technologies used for surveillance operations and online security. This is an introductory course with no prior experience necessary.

Quantum Cryptography
  • Offered by: CaltechX and DelftX via edX
  • Price: Free (audit) or $50 (verified certificate)
  • Length: 10 weeks
  • Format: Video lecture
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Quantum Cryptography explores the application of quantum principles to data protection. Unlike most cryptographic systems today, which rely on mathematical complexity, quantum cryptography relies on scientific principles. Students will gain foundational knowledge of quantum cryptology and its modern applications, such as quantum key distribution.

Certified White Hat Hacker Level 1 (Advanced)
  • Offered by: Udemy
  • Price: $20
  • Length: 29 lectures spanning two-and-a-half hours
  • Format: Video lectures and a quiz
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

Intended for information technology professionals, this course teaches students how to assess the security of online assets, such as databases and networks. Learners will examine advanced penetration testing, ethical hacking techniques, and the various Internet and network security tools that are available.

Network and Computer Security
  • Offered by: MIT OpenCourseWare
  • Price: Free
  • Length: Self-paced, but originally offered over approximately 12 weeks
  • Format: Lecture notes, reading assignments, quizzes, problem sets and a class project.
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This advanced course addresses computer and network security issues and the cryptology disciplines involved. A background in computer algorithms, computer hardware engineering and advanced mathematical concepts advised.

Elliptic Curves
  • Offered by: MIT OpenCourseWare
  • Price: Free
  • Length: Self-paced, but originally offered over 12 weeks
  • Format: Lecture notes and problems set assignments in PDF and SWS format
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This course introduces students to the mathematical principle of elliptical curves, number theory and cryptography. Although this is an introductory course, advanced algebra experience is strongly recommended.

Why Take an Online Class in Cyber Security?

Technology is everywhere. Almost every business uses the internet in some way, and many store sensitive information on their computers and servers. Professionals in a wide variety of industries can benefit from learning more about the theoretical and practical cyber security applications. A convenient way to obtain this must-have knowledge through online classes. Here are a few more reasons to consider them.

1 Cyber security issues apply to many different fields

With the explosion of data captured by individuals, business and governments, it is important that professionals in many fields-from medicine to law to financial markets-know how to protect it. That means understanding how information technology systems and devices can be breached and secured.

2 Make more informed decisions about technology security

oWhether one is a database manager trying to choose a server data security vendor, a small business owner deciding which data encryption software to use, or a police detective investigating identity theft, learning about cyber security issues and underlying concepts can be valuable knowledge.

3 Cyber security is well suited for distance learning

While online learning is growing exponentially, not all subjects can be taught exclusively through online classes. Cyber security is one of the exceptions. Instead of completing internships and labs, students learn through video lectures, PDF handouts, quizzes and online projects.

Apps & Podcasts for Cyber Security Gurus

Apps

Mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are everywhere these days, giving those who would like to take advantage of their vulnerabilities plenty of opportunity to do so. Fortunately, app developers recognized this problem and created apps that help protect privacy or make cyber security more accessible. Here are a few options

Cyber Security News

Free
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Cyber Security News

The Cyber Security News app aggregates news stories relating to cyber security issues, such as malware, hacking, data breach and the NSA. In other words, it puts the latest cyber security news and information right at your fingertips

Cybrary

Free
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Cybrary

Cybrary serves as a comprehensive reference tool for all things cyber security. Through this app, users can access free online tutorials on topics like malware, ethical hacking and protecting cloud data. This app is intended for cyber security novices, but experienced professionals will certainly find useful information here.

Network Analyzer

$3.99
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Network Analyzer

One of the best apps for diagnosing and analyzing computer networks. A small list of features: Wifi signal meter, LAN scanner, DNS lookup, ping and traceroute. This app also detects problems on remote servers.

Cryptography

Free
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Cryptography

The Cryptography app stores a detailed list of notes on more than 150 cryptography topics, including many of those discussed in cryptography and data security classes. This app is great for both students and information technology professionals.

Podcasts

The cyber security landscape is constantly changing - new attacks, exploits, data management and hardware issues emerge daily. Anyone in a web security field can benefit from staying up-to-date on new and trending web security issues. Podcasts are an easy and enjoyable way to do just that. Here are a few notable ones.

The Defensive Security Podcast is published roughly every week and covers pertinent cyber security news. Common topics include newly discovered vulnerabilities, viruses, malware, etc.

Security Now Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte Recent Episode to Try: Episode 565: Control-Flow Enforcement Technology

This long- running podcast addresses personal computing security issues. Topics include web security legal issues, newsy topics and newly developed technologies coming to the consumer market.

Southern Fried Security Martin Fisher and Andy Willingham Recent Episode to Try: Episode 180: Interview with Patrick Heim

Southern Fried Security looks at current security issues for the intermediate listener: topics are more detailed than basic but less advanced than podcasts designed for experienced information security professionals.

A cyber security news-based podcast that keeps listeners up-to-date on new security issues in the tech industry. Although based in Australia, this podcasts covers topics pertinent to any cyber security professional. Its hosts often adopt a lighthearted tone and feature experts..

From the Expert: Quality Online Cyber Security Classes

What are the most important skills students learn by taking cyber security classes online rather than a traditional setting? 
Mike_Meikle Mike Meikle

Online courses excel at providing practical labs, impromptu quizzes and subject reinforcement via video. These learning techniques are more difficult to provide in an in-person course that must adhere to a specific schedule. Online course flexibility allows students to gain more practical experience, at their own pace, without the distractions of large class size and schedule concerns. The relative ease of taking online courses can provide students with a much larger opportunity to expand their skillset due to the limited schedules and expense of in-person training.

What should students look for in a high-quality cyber security course online?
Mike_Meikle Mike Meikle

A strategy I have found to be very helpful for online courses is the incorporation of flashcards and a glossary of terms. Students can quickly review important terms and concepts via digital flashcards, which should be able to be printed out for offline review. A glossary can comprehensively define the technical terminology that a student must be familiar with and should also be able to be printed.
Another consideration is to incorporate review quizzes within each module. This allows students to track their progress and for the instructor to gauge the efficacy of the material. A word of caution on the quizzes: Exams, culminating in a final comprehensive exam, should also be a component of an online course.
If possible, the course should provide recognized Continuing Education Credits / Hours (CEH) for the student. These can go toward maintaining other affiliated certifications and adds value to the course. The educator creating the coursework can attempt to certify their content with the various mainstream security certification organizations to obtain recognized continuing education credits.

What are some of the best online cyber security certifications or courses for professionals who want to advance in the field?
Mike_Meikle Mike Meikle

If a student is at the start of their security career, the CompTIA Security Plus (Security +) certification is an excellent jumping off point. There are many online companies that provide courses for this certification. This cert provides the entry point into the wider cybersecurity community.
The gold standard for cyber security certifications is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). This requires a significant amount of industry experience across multiple domains before a student can qualify to take the exam.
Outside of those two certifications, the cyber security certification field becomes more specialized. The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), created by the EC-Council, is far more technically oriented than the CISSP. It provides a relatively in-depth look at how to exploit and protect information systems and employees.
The SANS GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) is very popular in the federal government space, especially the Department of Defense. It is described as an entry-level credential, but requires quite a bit more knowledge than a Security + certification.