Top Free Cyber Security Certifications and Courses in 2023

Published On: November 29, 2023By Categories: CybersecurityTags: ,

Companies are feeling the heat from cyber attacks in this modern cyber era. It’s like a digital wild west out there, and businesses and organizations are hiring digital sheriffs and gunslingers to save them from cyber robbers. An organization except a cybersecurity professional is a sitting duck in 2023. Hence, they’re strengthening their digital defenses, making their networks as tough as nails. They need astute tech experts like cybersecurity professionals to keep these systems running smoothly and keep the bad guys out because it’s not just about having the trendiest network accessories and softwares.

Let’s talk numbers because they will help you convince even more to pursue a career in cybersecurity. According to a report by Statista, the investment and market of cybersecurity is skyrocketing and is expected to reach a whopping 538.3 billion US dollars by 2030. Yes, That’s a lot of zeroes! The report also points out that the sneakiest tricks in the hacker’s playbook are network intrusions and phishing scams that are getting smarter with AI. Imagine someone slipping into your house unnoticed or tricking you into handing over your keys. What will you do then? Hire someone to watch with a sound security system of cameras and alarms and stop you from giving away your keys. Here, someone is a cybersecurity specialist deployed by businesses that are up against these kinds of cyber crimes mentioned above.

And here’s the deal: despite all this high-tech security network and system, a big piece of the puzzle is missing – the people to run the system. Cybersecurity Ventures dropped a bombshell in April 2023 when they said that the number of jobs in cybersecurity would go through the roof, and that is what happened precisely. The numbers propelled from 1 million in 2013 to a staggering 3.5 million in 2021. That’s a 350% jump! The US alone is home to over 750,000 of these jobs, and guess what? In 2023, the vacancies are still at 3.5 million jobs and counting. But there’s a catch – the cybersecurity industry is running low on cybersecurity pros. The experts think this shortage might stick around until at least 2025. The good news is that the industry’s rolling up its sleeves, offering online courses and even free certifications to get more people on board and fight off job burnout.

How To Become A Cybersecurity Expert

Protocols for Becoming A Cybersecurity Expert

Becoming a cybersecurity expert is something other than becoming a doctor or professor. This is a highly technical field, and one needs to have a particular set of attributes and skills to ace cybersecurity tests and exams. Yes, there are theories in this study, but they are to clarify the concept a student needs to apply all the practical methods they will learn. These set of skills and attributes are briefed below:

Establish a Robust Technical Basis: Gain control and understanding of computer networks and their operations first. Recognize the most prevalent but significant security weaknesses and how to fix them.

Have a Hacker’s Mindset: You need to think like the folks you are defending against to secure your systems efficiently. Identifying the techniques employed by hackers can aid in preventing and averting such attacks.

Enhance Your Problem-Solving Ability: One area that has many challenging and distinct analytical problems is cybersecurity. Acquire the ability to find out complex issues and quickly solve them.

Develop Your Communication Skills: As a cybersecurity expert, you must explain complex terms to non-technical individuals. Cooperation and communication are the cornerstones of effectively addressing security issues and concerns.

Develop Strong Analytical Skills: Analytical issues require an analytical problem-solving approach. Strengthening the base in basic mathematics is strongly recommended as it will come in handy in advanced studies and practical problems.

Practice & Patience: Cybersecurity investigations can be long, demanding, and tiring. Practicing patience is recommended, as working through complicated security challenges takes time.

Free Cyber Security Courses

Cyber Security Courses, Free Free Free

We have some exciting news to share for someone who wants to enter the cybersecurity industry! Below is a complete list of free cyber security certifications and courses, including several cyber security certifications online, to help you inaugurate the career path you want to take in this trillion-dollar field. And the most amazing part? It’s all free. There’s no need to pay a penny to make use of these resources. Imagine the high-paying and growing field that is the future of the IT industry, free! Who said there are no free lunches in this world? There are not, but if there are, there must be some catch. So, if you’re willing to improve your knowledge and skills in cyber security, this info-filled list of resources is the headstart you will require.

Harvard University: CS50’s Introduction to Cybersecurity

Harvard University is at the top of the list for offering a completely free Introduction to Cybersecurity course, among being at the top in many other fields. As the name suggests, Harvard University designed this course to introduce beginners and students to the basics of cybersecurity. This course covers various subjects, including cryptography, internet, network, and system security. Don’t be afraid of the names that you just read, as they all have their introduction for further specialization.

Eligibility Criteria: No special requirement exists to be eligible for this course. The course is accessible to all. It is the introduction, so people with zero knowledge of cybersecurity or programming can benefit from this.

Other information: The course is integral to Harvard’s CS50 series as it is the introduction and lays a foundation for advanced studies. One more reason for its popularity is its easy teaching method.

University of Washington: Introduction to Cybersecurity

The University of Washington follows suit after Harvard in the Introduction to Cybersecurity series. Washington University offers a free course, named as you know, “Introduction to Cybersecurity,” as part of their Professional & Continuing Education series, as they have many other courses in the cybersecurity domain part of this series. This course seeks to empower students with the education and skills required for protecting personal and organizational information from cyber threats, with topics including network security, application security, and policy & ethics considerations in cybersecurity as part of its broad scope.

Eligibility Criteria: Ideal for novices or those with basic knowledge of IT concepts, this course does not require a special eligibility criterion. No specific prerequisites are necessary for enrollment.

Other Information: This course provides an introduction to the field of cybersecurity, like Harvard, while being part of the university’s Professional & Continuing Education series. However, this particular course has more subjects and covers practical cybersecurity applications to make the pupil more experienced at the beginning.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Cybersecurity MicroMasters Program

The Rochester Institute of Technology proposes numerous courses in its Cybersecurity MicroMasters program. This particular program is there to take cybersecurity studies a step forward. If you have already passed the introduction to cybersecurity, then the subjects this program offers should be of interest. The University designed this program to provide an understanding of the subject so that the students can prepare themselves for positions in cybersecurity management and technical roles. The program is comprised of techniques such as “Cybersecurity,” “Network Security,” and “Cybersecurity Fundamentals.”

Eligibility Criteria: Those who have prior experience in cybersecurity or information technology are eligible for the program. It is accessible to everybody since it lacks strict requirements.

Other Information: As a collection of graduate-level courses designed to help you progress your career from the beginning level, the MicroMasters program delivers extensive cybersecurity learning and equips students to assume leadership roles.

New York University: Mobile Payment Security

Since the invention of mobile phones, mobile payments have become common, and where there is money involved, so is the fraud. New York University provides an apt course on Mobile Payment Security, which is particularly relevant for anyone interested in financial technology and cybersecurity. The course addresses key principles in mobile payment security, such as processing card transactions, EMV issuance, tokenization, challenges, and standards associated with mobile payment security.

Eligibility Criteria: Though this course is open for everyone, the industry involved makes it perfect for individuals with a basic understanding of IT and an interest in financial technology.

Other Information: This course does not fall directly into the cybersecurity category but is somehow related, as theft and fraud are done through data, and data security is also cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Basics By The Ohio State University

Ohio State University offers a free Cybersecurity Basics course. Now, what does it mean? Are the basic and introduction courses of cybersecurity the same thing? Actually, no. The Introduction to Cybersecurity course provides just the introduction to multiple subjects that are involved in cybersecurity. The cybersecurity basic program is programmed to give a solid understanding of cybersecurity that covers the basic concepts and techniques. The curriculum covers all the basics and not just the introduction. It is appropriate for those seeking to get started in cybersecurity or to increase their knowledge of digital security to apply in their professional and personal lives.

Eligibility Criteria: No prior knowledge or experience of cybersecurity is necessary, nor is any particular criterion, making it an ideal option for students and those just beginning their journey.

Other Information: The course is organized in an approachable manner and covers key concepts and procedures that cover the fundamentals of cybersecurity.

George Washington University’s Try It: Cybersecurity Basics

The George Washington University course “Try It: Cybersecurity Basics” is another addition to this blog’s basics of cybersecurity trend. It is an introductory course targeted at people with no previous cybersecurity knowledge. This course is perfect for anyone looking to increase their cybersecurity skillset. But what sets it apart from the previously discussed basic course? The broad spectrum of subjects it offers. It teaches the fundamentals of cybersecurity, the CIA Triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability), cryptography, and the daily responsibilities that cybersecurity specialists have to fulfill, which were not a part of the prior one discussed.

Eligibility Criteria: This course is open to beginners and requires no previous experience or technical knowledge, but this is a very definitive course in terms of basics. It is named Cybersecurity Basics but gives a sufficient command.

Other Information: The CIA Triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) is a critical and unique aspect taught in this course. The university offers an advanced subject in this course that is also free.

Best Cyber Security Certifications for Beginners

Best Cyber Security Certifications for Beginners

Now that we are past the introductory courses in the field of cybersecurity and beyond, it is time to go beyond from rookie to beginner. These best entry level cyber security certifications and courses are a complete package for someone to take a start in cybersecurity. Understood until here? Many potential cybersecurity students must think about what to do after the introduction or beginning level. Who will tell you where to go from there? This is a valid and genuine question; the answer is no one! Don’t fret, because the students will know the advanced field and study they must take from there. Moreover, fellow students in the community and tutors will also provide guidance.

As for where to get these beginner courses, these courses are available on Coursera. They’re hand-picked from elite educational institutions and prestigious industry experts. They are suitable for all seeking to develop your skills or increase your team’s abilities in the workplace. They are a perfect blend of fundamental concepts as well as hands-on experiences. We have also provided briefs to give the reader an idea of what they will be learning. Please look at some of the top free cybersecurity courses for beginners.

Google Cybersecurity

This course covers skills like Network Security, Python Programming, Linux, Cloud Computing, and more. It’s a best entry level cyber security certification program that takes 3 to 6 months to complete.

Foundations of Cybersecurity by Google

This short course provides free cyber security training for beginners, focusing on Linux, Computer Programming, Leadership, and Management. It spans 1 to 4 weeks.

IBM Cybersecurity Analyst

This professional certificate course for beginners covers a wide range of topics, including Cryptography, Python Programming, Linux, Network Security, and more, over a period of 3 to 6 months.

Cybersecurity for Everyone by the University of Maryland

Aimed at beginners, this course spans 1 to 3 months and covers Cyberattacks, Network Security, Security Engineering, and other relevant topics.

Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks by IBM

Another beginner course that lasts 1 to 4 weeks, focusing on Cryptography, Security Software, Cyberattacks, and more.

Microsoft Cybersecurity Analyst

This beginner-level professional certificate course covers Cloud Computing, Data Management, Microsoft Azure, and more over 3 to 6 months.

Certified in Cybersecurity by ISC2

This specialization course for beginners spans 3 to 6 months and covers topics like Risk Management, Network Security, and Cryptography.

Free Government-Funded Cybersecurity Courses

The US government funds many free government cybersecurity training and courses along with a myriad of courses in different education areas to uplift the student fraternity. These courses are assembled to cater to different levels of expertise and accommodate various personnel sectors. Here are some prominent government-funded cybersecurity courses and programs available in the US:

Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE)

FedVTE is one of the best cybersecurity courses being online, free, and hot cybersecurity training program with certificates proffered by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The beauty of this course is its accessibility to all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Everyone should strengthen or build their cybersecurity skillset. Another feature that adds to its beauty is that students can do it at their preferred pace and schedule. This program is available to federal government employees and contractors, state, local, tribal, and territorial government employees, U.S. military personnel, veterans, and the general public​​​​.

Education & Training by NICCS (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies)

This education plus training provided by NICCS should end your search for free cyber security courses online with certificates. NICCS, under CISA, is providing a sea of cybersecurity education and training resources. Anyone not benefitting from it is surely missing out on a great sea of knowledge-wealth. The resources include K-12 and collegiate-level programs, scholarship information, training courses, and much much more. Moreover, NICCS operates under the supervision of CISA, the NICCS Education and Training Catalog is a pivotal point acting as a center to help cybersecurity professionals of all skill levels find relevant courses online and in person nationwide.

State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is also chipping in government-funded cyber security courses through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, providing substantial financial assistance and funding. This funding is targeted to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security aims to manage and reduce systematic cyber risk by preparing more and more individuals to serve in this department.

Cybersecurity Scholarships

The U.S. government initiated this program under NICCS with the intention of offering scholarships for cybersecurity-related degree programs. The cybersecurity scholarships are provided under the CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. This program is coordinated through the National Science Foundation (NSF) in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The SFS program provides scholarships for cybersecurity-related degree programs at numerous institutions that participate with the government in this initiative. The main ethical criterion is that the scholarship recipients are expected to commit to and fulfil a cybersecurity role in a U.S. government entity upon graduation. The duration of commitment is proportional to the length of the scholarship.

Prominent features of the CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service program are:

Full Tuition Coverage: The scholarship covers full tuition and education-related fees of the deserving recipient.

Stipends: Undergraduate students are allocated a stipend of up to $25,000 per academic year, while graduate students (Master’s and PhD) may receive up to $34,000 per academic year.

Professional Development Allowance: Additional funding is proffered for professional development activities, such as attending cybersecurity conferences and workshops.

Employment After Graduation: Scholarship recipients are expected to work in a cybersecurity role in a federal, state, local, or tribal government organization for a period equivalent to the duration of the scholarship. This criterion is a blessing in rule-following as the recipient will have a job in hand as soon they finish the course. Isn’t it amazing?

The US government has put its heart and soul into this strategy to enhance the national capability in cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development. An opportunity to serve the country against the threats to the nation’s information systems and critical infrastructure.

CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service Coverage

Common types of degree programs and courses covered by the CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service include:

Computer Science with a focus on Cybersecurity

Some universities are celebrating majors in the field of cybersecurity with courses including network security, cryptography, information security, and cybersecurity principles.

Information Technology with a specialization in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity

Programs may include cybersecurity management, risk assessment, and digital forensics courses.

Cybersecurity Degree Programs

Multiple dedicated cybersecurity degree programs provided by different institutes across the country often cover various topics, from ethical hacking to cyber law and policy.

Electrical/Computer Engineering with a focus on Cybersecurity

This field revolves around cybersecurity’s technical and physical aspects for those interested in cybersecurity’s hardware and embedded systems aspect.

Other Related Fields

This can include interdisciplinary programs that combine elements of law, policy, and cybersecurity or specialized areas like healthcare informatics with a focus on securing sensitive health data.

The program structure and course subjects differ according to the participating institute’s curriculum. Interested students need to check with specific participating universities for the exact cybersecurity degree programs and courses they offer under the CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service. The National Science Foundation and individual university websites provide detailed information on eligible programs and application procedures.

Top Cybersecurity Certifications for 2024

You thought we would leave you alone just telling you about the introduction and beginner courses? How can we leave our loyal followers hanging? This is not the Direct Macro way. We are sure that you will always come back to know more after taking your first step in the study of cybersecurity. If you’ve already taken the first step or are looking for a certificate that is a complete course in itself, then we have the perfect options for you.

Certified in Cybersecurity by (ISC): This certification is presented for free at the end as part of the One Million Certified in Cybersecurity initiative started by CompTIA. It’s perfect for IT professionals, those transitioning into cybersecurity, college students in the IT field, and advanced high schoolers. This online and independent course covers domains like Security Principles, Network Security, and Security Operations.

Kali Linux Fundamentals by Cybrary: This course focuses on Kali Linux, a tool for penetration testing and ethical hacking. It suits beginners and covers installation, navigation, and troubleshooting basics.

Introduction to Cybersecurity by Cisco: This course differs from the typical introduction course you have been reading about. This course is a part of a program Cisco provides in its cybersecurity certification quest. It covers all the basics in other courses and the enhanced basics of the Cisco-specified curriculum. It’s available in multiple languages and includes interactive content, quizzes, and simulations.

Cybersecurity Essentials by Cisco: Cybersecurity Essentials is the continuation of the Cisco cybersecurity program. This course offers an in-depth understanding of cybercrime, security principles, and strategies for network protection. It’s a good starting point for those aiming for CCNA or CyberOps Associate Certifications.

Networking Essentials by Cisco: If you thought the Cisco cybersecurity program was part of a couple of subjects, then let us tell you there is a third part, too. This course requires no prior networking experience and covers foundational networking concepts, ideal for professionals in software development or data science.

Ethical Hacking Essentials by EC-Council: After Cisco, the EC-Council started a three-part cybersecurity certification program. The first part of this course, which is ethical hacking, introduces the fundamentals of ethical hacking, including information security, network vulnerabilities, and social engineering.

Digital Forensics Essentials by EC-Council: To get a complete grasp and skill of the cybersecurity certificate initiative by EC-Council, you must enroll yourself in this second part. This course introduces computer forensics and is ideal for those new to digital forensics. It covers topics like data acquisition and network forensics.

Network Defense Essentials by EC-Council: This course is the third installment in the EC-Council cybersecurity program. However, this is not chronological; one can do it in any order, but doing the trio will strengthen the grip and elevate the value of certifications when combined. This course is suitable for beginners in cybersecurity and covers topics like information security, virtualization, and cloud computing.

Risk Management by Open University: Another trilogy presented by the Open University. When so many institutes offer certification and courses in a combination of three, there must be a logic behind it. Moreover, provided in collaboration with Rolls-Royce PLC, this course focuses on modern risk management techniques and best practices.

Information Security by Open University: This course marks the second step in the Open University cybersecurity certification program. The university designed this course for those familiar with an organizational environment and covers the importance of information security.

Digital Forensics by Open University: It is not chronological, but as we discuss the trilogy, this course completes it. This course introduces learners to computer forensics, covering investigations, evidence analysis, and compliance with regulations. Completing these three courses and gaining the certificates that remind you are free will make the course taker invaluable in cybersecurity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Receive Cybersecurity Training at No Cost?

Free cybersecurity education and training is available on a plethora of websites. Harvard is just one of many schools mentioned in the list; other schools, including MIT, provide free online cybersecurity courses. Cybersecurity courses are also available on WebEd platforms like Cybrary, edX, and Coursera. However, students may have to pay to get their certificates.

Is it Wise to Pursue Cybersecurity as a Profession?

In a word, yes. Cybersecurity is an area that is growing rapidly, so these professionals with exceptional skills are in high demand. Due to this the career opportunities are tremendous, along with competitive salary packages, and the possibility of working across a wide sea of sectors. The rising threat of cyber-attacks also guarantees the sustainability of this field.

What Are the Top Cybersecurity Classes?

Some of the top cybersecurity training courses comprise:

  • An Introduction to Cybersecurity Cisco.
  • Cybersecurity Fundamentals written by RIT (Rochester Institute for Technology) on the edX platform.
  • The CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science by Harvard University, which includes security principles.
  • Cybersecurity for Business by the University of Colorado on Coursera.

What Are the Top Cyber security Certifications?

Most popular certifications include:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Cisco’s CCNA Security
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

How Long Will It Take To Be Certified in Cybersecurity?

The time required to be certified can differ greatly based on the type of certification. Certain certifications, such as CompTIA Security+, can be obtained in just only a few months of studying while others, such as CISSP might require years of experience in the field and more time to study.

What Skills Are Required for a Successful Career in Cybersecurity?

Necessary skills comprise a thorough knowledge of systems and networking, a thorough understanding of security measures and protocols, problem-solving capabilities, attention to detail, and the ability to think like hackers (anticipating and defending against cyber-attacks). Communication skills, such as the capability to communicate effectively, are essential.

Final Thoughts

As we get to an end-of-the-line it’s clear that cybersecurity isn’t just a rapidly growing field and a vital area of study in our digital society. The programs mentioned above and the certificates they confer are more than simply educational opportunities. They provide the means to become digital defenders. These courses, offered by renowned universities and top corporations, are designed to meet the needs of a wide spectrum of learners who are just beginning their journey in cybersecurity, to those who want to increase their knowledge.

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