Interest in cybersecurity has skyrocketed in the 21st century. In the past five years alone, Google searches for the term have more than quintupled due to a slew of high profile hacks and a corresponding burst of interest in preventing them.
“The volume of attacks and sophistication of attacks from around the world continue to increase,” ISC2 CEO David Shearer told CNBC. “As these activities on the web continue to grow, there continues to be less and less of the qualified people that we need to conquer those attacks.”
In other words, there’s a skills gap, and one solution is investing in cybersecurity training programs.
Top Cybersecurity Courses to Know
- Introduction to IT & Cybersecurity - Cybrary
- Introduction to Vulnerability Assessment - Open Security Training
- Introduction to Cybersecurity - SANS Institute
- Essentials of Cybersecurity on EdX - University of Washington
- IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity Specialization on Coursera - IBM
- Advanced Computer Security Professional Program - Stanford University
- Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age - Harvard University
- CompTIA CySA+ Prep on Udemy - Jason Dion
- CISSP Trainings - ISC(2)
- Black Hat Trainings
Here are 19 top in-person and online cybersecurity courses, ranging from free online InfoSec introductions to highly technical on-campus bootcamps.
Cybersecurity Training for the Basics
These free courses offer total novices an overview of cybersecurity. They cover the basics of the industry and break down the various professional roles within it.
1. Introduction to IT & Cybersecurity — Cybrary
Hosted by Cybrary, a free IT education hub popular among Fortune 500 companies, this 90-minute course walks newbies through cybersecurity’s four subfields: system administration, network engineering, incident response and forensics — i.e., identifying attacks and figuring out how they happened — and penetration testing, aka white hat hacking. Led by an instructor who is CEH and CHFI-certified, the course helps students pick a subfield for further study.
Pros: No cost; complete in under one day
2. Introduction to Vulnerability Assessment — Open Security Training
Open Security Training’s repository of cybersecurity courses caters to all skill levels, but skews towards beginner-level courses like this one: a three-day course on vulnerability assessment. The curriculum covers the art of running automated scans for security gaps, mapping out network topology and testing network firewalls. Its creators can lead the class in person, but all the course materials can also be downloaded straight from the course site as PowerPoints or PDFs.
Pros: No cost; three-day completion
3. FederalVTE 101 Courses — Department of Homeland Security
The Federal Virtual Training Environment (FederalVTE) connects users to hundreds of hours of cybersecurity certificate courses. The three 101-level courses introduce the essentials. Courses regarding coding, incident response, security platform Mothra and sensors for traffic analytics teach students the basis of cybersecurity hardware and software.
Price: Free for veterans and government employees
Pros: No cost for select students; follows NICE framework
Cybersecurity Training for Beginners
These courses and programs also cater to beginners, but require a bigger investment of time and money. They presume participants want to build careers in cybersecurity.
1. Introduction to Cybersecurity — SANS Institute
This roving, five-day cybersecurity workshop has touched down in cities from San Francisco to Brussels. In each city, students flock to the course site to delve into field fundamentals. Class time breaks down into a mix of lectures and hands-on labs on topics like strong passwords, firewall-building and cryptography. The curriculum is appropriate for anyone who can use a computer but has never studied cybersecurity in-depth. Assembled by an industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience, the course is ideal for those who are considering a career change. In addition to the 15 pounds of required textbooks, audio of lectures is available for further study.
Location: In-person or online
Price: $7,215 to $7,320
Pros: Hands-on labs; five-day completion
2. Essentials of Cybersecurity on EdX — University of Washington
This digital University of Washington sequence spans four classes and awards a cybersecurity certificate. Kicking off with a brief introduction, which gets students up to speed on core concepts, it then delves into typical organization-wide security protocols and best practices. After some hands-on practice with cybersecurity tools, the sequence culminates in a self-assessment, which matches students to cybersecurity concentrations that suit their strengths. The whole sequence takes about two months total, assuming between two and five hours of work per week.
Price: Free (audit track), $199 (verified track)
Pros: No-cost content access; self-paced
3. IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity Specialization on Coursera — IBM
This four-course sequence trains novices for roles as junior cybersecurity analysts. It starts with foundational questions: What motivates cyberattackers, and which techniques do they use to wreak havoc? From there, students pursue more technical lines of inquiry, exploring compliance standards, virtualization applications and methods (like patch management) for keeping network security up to date. Before students earn their certificates, they also learn about encryption, local area networks and more.
Price: Free (auditing), pricing available upon request (full-course)
Pros: No-cost content access; flexible scheduling
4. Advanced Computer Security Professional Program — Stanford University
This cybersecurity program focuses on the art of designing secure systems and responding to suspicious digital events. Students must take six courses to graduate: four required, two electives, all online. (The program includes a free intro course, too, but that doesn’t count towards the degree.) Geared towards students with the equivalent of a B.S. in computer science, the course often attracts people who are already working in security. With a 365-day limit to complete, the sequence involves coursework on topics like secure coding, encryption and mobile device security issues.
Price: $2,970 (all-access), $495 (individual course)
Pros: No-cost intro course; self-paced
5. Cybersecurity Bootcamp — Evolve
This 20-week bootcamp is a basic command of computer science, networking and Linux commands. But it doesn’t require students to quit their jobs. Classes take place on weeknights or Saturdays; students can pick the schedule that best suits their needs, whether they learn remotely, via live webinars or in person at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Material-wise, instruction covers topics like security architecture, secure scripting and the modern threat landscape. Participants graduate with a CompTIA Security+ certification (a widely used professional certification), and the bootcamp staff helps with job placement. So far, graduates have gone on to work at cybersecurity behemoths like Carbon Black.
Location: In-person or online
Price: $14,500 (in-person), $12,500 (remote)
Pros: Part-time; CompTIA Security+ exam prep and voucher
6. Cybersecurity Bootcamp — University of California, Berkeley
This 24-week bootcamp based in the San Francisco Bay Area of California focuses on the skills information security leaders most often seek in job candidates. Through a mix of independent work and collaboration with peers, students build expertise on cybersecurity topics like vulnerability assessment and malware analysis. The course covers cybersecurity-adjacent topics, too, like Bash scripting and systems administration.
Pros: Hands-on training; part-time
Cybersecurity Training for Professionals and Continued Education
These courses cater to those who have several years of experience working in cybersecurity-related roles.
1. Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age — Harvard University
This online course, a collaboration between Harvard and online education platform GetSmarter, imparts the structural expertise leaders need to protect their organizations from hackers. Course leader Eric Rosenbach, of Harvard’s Kennedy School, covers skills like creating a risk mitigation strategy, complying with relevant regulations and identifying the organizational systems at the highest risk. The self-paced class takes roughly eight weeks, assuming about eight to 11 hours of work per week.
Pros: Collaborative discussion forum access; self paced
2. CompTIA CySA+ Prep on Udemy — Jason Dion
This intermediate-level course prepares students for the CompTIA CySA+ exam, a cybersecurity competency exam co-signed by the U.S. Department of Defense. Geared towards students with a basic knowledge of cybersecurity, including entry-level incident response workers, it consists of 32.5 hours of self-paced video lectures punctuated by quizzes. It also comes bundled with a full-length practice CompTIA exam, so participants can try their hand at the real thing before test day.
Pros: Mobile and TV access; self-paced; CompTIA CySA+ exam prep
3. PenTest+ Certification Training — CompTIA
The technological association behind the above exam, CompTIA, hosts training itself on a variety of topics. One preps users for the CySA+ exam; another option focuses on the association’s PenTest+ certification, which gauges penetration testing savvy specifically. The customizable digital course splits its focus between tools of the trade, ethical attack methodology and training on professional skills like report-writing. Students can build their own learning plans, set their own pace and complement the basic course with an optional illustrated study guide.
Price: $392 to $977
Pros: Hands-on labs; CompTIA instructor-led; CompTIA PenTest+ exam prep and voucher
4. Enterprise Cloud Security Architecture — SANS Institute
This online course addresses a key security problem: more and more organizations are moving to the cloud, and cloud security is a bear. It’s tough to customize — partly because the servers’ built-in security measures aren’t always clearly specified and partly because newer technologies are just more difficult to wrangle. Designed for current security professionals, this curriculum digs into AWS-based and modern authentication security solutions for the cloud. By the end, students will know not only how to navigate cloud architectural patterns and infrastructures, but also how to collaborate effectively within DevOps and system administration teams.
Pros: Hands-on labs; two-day completion
5. CISSP Trainings — (ISC)2
Getting credentialed as a CISSP — aka a Certified Information Systems Security Professional — isn’t for beginners or the faint of heart. Those who earn certificates are qualified to design a best-in-class security system, so it’s no surprise that registration requires extensive work experience and a sponsor, not to mention extensive preparation. Trade association ISC2 runs various in-person and digital prep courses in eight languages. Its 180-day self-paced online prep course, for instance, consists of a mix of video lectures, interactive flashcard exercises and games. For those who prefer face-to-face tutelage, the organization also occasionally runs five-day prep workshops.
Price: $941.45 to $2,669.75
Pros: Instructor email support; self-paced; CISSP exam prep and voucher
6. Certified Ethical Hacker iClass — E-Council
If you want to feel like you’re weathering real-life cyberattacks, these course’s labs get pretty close. Students must respond to the labs’ simulated digital threats in real time, sealing off pseudo-breaches designed by real hackers. The comprehensive course’s 20 modules cover popular attack techniques and technologies, providing rigorous preparation for the four-hour Certified Ethical Hacker exam. Like CISSP certification, though, this white hat hacking credential isn’t for novices. The CEH expects students to have the equivalent of at least two years of professional InfoSec experience.
Location: In-person or online
Price: $2,199 to $3,499
Pros: No-cost first-look training webinars; self-paced or live; CEH exam prep and voucher
7. Security Training and Certification — AWS
Amazon hosts a sequence of four courses that walk students through the specific security features and functions in the AWS cloud. Designed for current security professionals, the first course focuses on fundamentals, the second on security architecture and the third on security management. The fourth and final course readies students for the AWS’s Certified Security - Specialty exam, dissecting sample questions and arming students with test-taking strategies. The test isn’t for everyone, though — Amazon recommends it only for pros with at least two years of hands-on experience in AWS security.
Pros: No cost; self-paced or live; AWS Certified Security - Specialty exam prep
8. Black Hat Trainings
Black Hat hosts multi-day labs in urban centers (like Las Vegas and Singapore) that are focused on topics like penetration testing and web application vulnerabilities. The professional organization for cybersecurity vendors and professionals has hosted those types of educational events for more than two decades. Forming the backbone of Black Hat’s annual conference and led by experts in the field, the workshops often cater to experienced professionals, though some of them are also suited to novices.
Price: $3,600 to $8,100
Pros: Hands-on labs; beginner to advanced
9. CCNA Security Training and Certification — Cisco
The CCNA Security certification assesses the ability of test-takers to protect networks outfitted with Cisco hardware and software. Designed for associate-level employees, the popular professional credential focuses on competency in day-to-day network maintenance. To prep aspiring test-takers, Cisco offers a combination of e-learning lectures, hands-on labs and self-study exercises to learn about Cisco network implementation and management.
Pros: No prerequisites needed; self-paced
10. Security Administrator Associate Certification — Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 mashes up Microsoft Office with the cloud. That means it has familiar Word, Excel and Powerpoint features, while its cloud-enabled back end allows for seamless collaboration between users and across devices. Anything cloud-based takes some finesse to secure, though — hence this sequence of four online courses, which teaches users to lock down their organization’s 365 security and proactively respond to threats. The courses explore topics like access controls and data governance, and cover both cloud and hybrid environments. The sequence culminates in an exam and certification.
Pros: No cost; no prerequisites required; self-paced