According to IBM’s 2022 report, a cybersecurity event such as a ransomware attack can cost organizations up to USD 4.54 million on average. This cost excludes the ransom cost, which the attackers usually demand.
This magnitude of damage that cyber attacks can cause is the major driver of the huge demand for cybersecurity professionals.
Interestingly, cybersecurity never used to be so much of a mainstream career some time back, and it was mostly tucked into part of the responsibilities of the IT people. But the growing intensity of cyberattacks has made cybersecurity a top priority for organizations, and they are all chasing the best talent.
If you want to get into this highly lucrative profession but lack the funds to pay for courses, we have good news. There are many options of free cybersecurity courses that you can start to learn at zero cost, 100% free.
The only small issue is that these courses are not uniform across the board. It means that some may be worth it, some may not.
To save you the pain of trying to figure out which free cybersecurity courses offer true value, we have prepared a list of the very best.
How can you learn cybersecurity for free?
There are various ways you can learn cybersecurity, including free online courses, government-sponsored training, and organizational training.
#1 Free cybersecurity online courses
Online learning platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, and edX offer free, short online courses on cybersecurity. Some of the platforms even provide free certifications to showcase your skills upon completion of the course.
The better part? Most of these courses are self-paced, offering the flexibility to learn anytime, anywhere.
#2 Organizational training
Following the prevalence of cybersecurity attacks, most organizations have partnered with data security experts to train their employees. These organizations do it as part of their knowledge-sharing and capacity-building programs.
If you work in such an organization, then making the most out of these training sessions can equip you with invaluable cybersecurity skills and experience.
#3 Government-sponsored training
Besides enacting data privacy laws and regulations, most governments have partnered with cybersecurity service providers to offer free training.
It could be in the form of paying for selected cybersecurity courses on behalf of the learners and making the course freely available.
Whichever way you choose, you can be certain to find a free cybersecurity course to learn or add value to your expertise.
If you are specifically interested in certifications, we have a dedicated resource for this that gives the best free cybersecurity certifications.
What are the top free cybersecurity courses today?
We analyzed the available free cybersecurity courses online based on the course content, duration, and study options offered.
We also considered diversity in the cybersecurity career paths to include a wide range of specializations.
Why is IT Companies Network best placed to advise on the best cybersecurity courses? We have been in this industry for over a decade now. We understand what works in cybersecurity and what does not. We understand what is new and what’s old. We also have a very good picture of where the cybersecurity industry is headed. With this level of experience, we are proud to help you pick the best course to set the foundation for a successful career in cybersecurity.
Here now are the best free cybersecurity courses!
1. Cyber security for beginners (Udemy)
Udemy’s Cyber Security for Beginners course offers an in-depth understanding of cybersecurity concepts and best practices.
It covers cybersecurity technologies such as sandboxes and offers security guidelines to safeguard WordPress websites, enhance email security, and securely transact online.
It is designed for individuals who are new to the cybersecurity field and covers a wide range of topics, including:
- Internet security
- Identity theft
- Secure online shopping
- Email security
- Configuring an antivirus
Duration: The free course entails a tutorial, which can take between 1-7 days to complete. However, it can take a shorter time depending on the learner's availability since it is self-paced.
Certification: Udemy’s free courses do not offer any certifications. The certification is only available for paid courses, which cost $30-$180.
Career prospects: The free course alone may not qualify a learner for advanced cybersecurity roles but can serve as a valuable stepping stone.
It also prepares learners to explore entry-level positions such as junior security analysts.
Additionally, the knowledge gained from this course can be a strong foundation for a more advanced course.
2. Cyber Security Best Practices for Kids (Udemy)
Parents in the house? Here you go!
Cyber Security Best Practices for Kids is a comprehensive course designed to equip children and young adults with crucial knowledge about cybersecurity and online safety.
So if you are a parent wondering if there is a free cybersecurity course that can get your kid (s) get sated into cybersecurity concepts, this is a great option. It provides cybersecurity best practices to ensure the security of kids on social media platforms such as YouTube so they don’t fall prey to cyber-attacks.
The course covers a wide range of topics, including:
- Best practices on how to stay safe online with solid passwords
- Introduction to computer security
- Methods hackers might use and how to get around them
- Common scams and how to recognize and avoid them
- Tips to stay safe when on social media or playing video games.
Duration: The duration can vary from one hour to a few days, depending on the pace of the learner.
Certificate: The learner is not eligible for a certification for the free courses.
Career prospects: This course may not directly lead to a career but it lays a solid foundation for a safer and more responsible online presence for kids.
3. Cyber Security (Udemy)
Udemy’s Cyber Security is a 5-hour video course designed to help web developers advance their understanding of web security issues from cyber attack countermeasures to writing a secure code.
It covers a wide range of topics including:
- DNS attacks
- HTTP attacks
- Session hijacking attack
- Cross-site-scripting and XSS attacks
- Phishing attacks and Client-side security
- SQL injections and command line injections
Duration: The course takes approximately 5 to 20 hours to complete, depending on the learner's pace and prior knowledge.
Certificate: The free video course doesn’t offer any certification.
Career prospects: Learners can use the course as a basis to pursue more advanced courses and take up various roles within the cybersecurity field. Such roles include security analyst, ethical hacker, information security officer, or cybersecurity consultant.
4. Cybersecurity for Everyone (Coursera)
Cybersecurity for Everyone is an in-depth program designed to lay a foundation for policymakers who are involved in developing cybersecurity measures to curb the growing complexities of cybercrimes.
The course delves into critical cybersecurity issues that the policymakers should have in mind when developing policies, from local and international governance to risk and applications management.
It covers a wide range of topics, including:
- Evolution of the Internet
- Global telecommunications architecture and governance
- Threat actors and their motivators
- The hacking process
Duration: The course is 21 hours long, and learners take approximately 22 hours to complete it.
Certification: Upon successful completion of the course, learners receive a free certificate, shareable on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
Career prospects: Cybersecurity for Everyone is a detailed course whose learners can pursue roles such as cybersecurity analysts, security consultants, and information security specialists.
You can even advance further in the domain to become ethical hackers or penetration testers.
5. Introduction to Cyber Security Specialization (Coursera)
Introduction to Cyber Security Specialization is a beginner-level, 4-course series designed to equip learners with a clear understanding of their areas of specialization in cybersecurity.
It provides the fundamentals of identification and authentication in cyber security and helps learners develop a life-long plan for their careers in this field.
This specialization covers a wide range of topics, including:
- Introduction to cyber attacks
- Cyber attack countermeasures
- Real-time cyber threat detection and mitigation
- Enterprise and infrastructure security
Duration: The course takes 2 months, studying 10 hours a week.
Certification: Upon completion, learners receive a free certificate sharable on LinkedIn.
Career prospects: The course lays a firm ground for learners to identify and grow their specialization as cybersecurity analysts, information security specialists, network security engineers, or ethical hackers.
6. Cybersecurity: Developing a Program for your Business Specialization (Coursera)
Coursera’s Cybersecurity program for business specialization is another beginner-level, 4-course series. It is designed to equip learners with the knowledge and skills needed to establish effective cybersecurity programs within their businesses.
It guides learners into the procedures of securing business assets through education and training, policies and technology best practices.
This course also provides a means to develop a balanced information protection approach through in-depth technical and managerial cybersecurity topics.
You will go through topics such as:
- Cybersecurity and mobility
- Cybersecurity and the IoT
- Cybersecurity and the X-factor
- The business cybersecurity capstone
Duration: Learners can complete this course in about 1 month, studying 10 hours a week.
Certification: Upon successful completion, learners receive a free certificate, shareable on LinkedIn.
Career prospect: The course prepares you to advance your profession and work in roles such as cybersecurity analysts, risk managers, security consultants, or even Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs).
7. Introduction to IT and Cybersecurity (Cybrary)
Cybrary’s Introduction to IT and Cybersecurity is a beginner-level course offering a basic understanding of cybersecurity, including the roles and responsibilities for each specialization.
The course provides students with a general understanding of cybersecurity, career paths, and specializations, and how to become a specialist in the field.
It covers the following specializations:
- System Administrator
- Network administrator
- Incident responder
- Penetration Tester
- Cloud Engineer
- Cybersecurity Manager
- Privacy Specialist
Duration: Learners take approximately 2 hours to complete the course as it is only 1 hour and 41 minutes long.
Certification: Upon successful completion of the course, learners are eligible for a free certification.
Career prospects: Upon completion, you will have a clear understanding of the different specializations and the expertise required in each. You can pursue entry roles such as IT support specialist, network administrator, and cybersecurity analyst. You can also progress into more specialized areas like system administration or security consulting.
8. Cyber Criminals Want Your Information (Udemy)
Udemy’s Cyber Criminals Want Your Information course entails a tutorial that is designed to help learners manage their passwords to avoid security breaches.
The course teaches learners how to overcome cyber criminals and efficiently manage and organize their account login details.
The topics covered include:
- Introduction to password management
- Offline vs. Online Password Management
- Keepass Password Management
Duration: The course is an 8 hours 53 minutes tutorial. You can complete it in 1-5 days, depending on your availability.
Certification: The tutorial doesn’t offer any certification after completion. Certifications are only available for paid courses.
Career prospects: With this course, you can handle entry roles for system administrator and security analyst. You can also use the course as a basis for pursuing advanced courses in the field.
9. The Federal Virtual Training Environment
The Federal Virtual Training Environment program is a short course developed by the Open Learn University, supported by the UK Government Cyber Security Programme.
The course is CPD (Continuing Professional Development) accredited and is meant to help learners maintain a secure online presence.
The course offers detailed knowledge in a wide range of topics, including:
- Threat landscape
- Networking and communications
- Network security
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Duration: The course is an 8-week program, each week covering a topic. You can choose which one to start with.
Certification: Learners are awarded a free statement of participation in completing the course.
Career prospects: At the end of the training, you will have a detailed understanding of managing passwords identifying and mitigating security threats online. You can also seek entry-level positions such as system administrator, network security administrator, or security analyst.
10. Building your own cyber lab at home (Udemy)
Udemy’s Building Your Own Cyber Lab at Home course is a video tutorial that walks learners through the process of building a cyber lab at home.
This course is designed for IT and cybersecurity professionals who are looking to build a home lab from the existing hardware.
It covers the following topics:
- The need for a cyber lab
- Planning your cyber lab
- Using it
Duration: The course is a short tutorial that takes around 2 hours to complete.
Certification: No certification is available for this course.
Career prospect: By the end of the tutorial, you are equipped with the knowledge to set up, build, and manage a cyber lab. You can use these skills to explore advanced courses as a cyber technician.
11. Introduction to Cyber Attacks (Coursera)
The Introduction to Cyber Attacks course is a beginner-friendly program that provides a basic understanding of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, threats, and risk analysis models.
The course, which also digs into how cyber attacks are built and launched, covers four modules on the following topics:
- Understanding cyber security
- Security frameworks
- Examining cyber threats
- Security risk analysis
Duration: The course duration is eighteen hours.
Certification: Learners are awarded a free shareable certificate upon completion.
Career prospects: This course is essential for system administrators, network security, and cloud security professionals. Use this course as a basis for upskilling and expanding your knowledge in risk assessment.
12. Cloud Security Basics (Coursera)
The Cloud Security Basics course guides learners on designing a secure cloud service and conducting risk assessment and analysis on the cloud.
It also provides guidelines for employing network security procedures for the cloud.
The course covers a wide range of topics in 4 lessons, including:
- Private cloud network security
- Cryptography for remote access and support
- Cloud computing security
- Vulnerability scoring system
Duration: The course covers 4 modules and takes approximately 12 hours to complete.
Certification: Upon completion, you earn a free, shareable certificate.
Career prospects: You can use this course as a basis for accessing more advanced cybersecurity courses in specializations such as cloud computing.
13. Computer Forensics (edX)
Computer Forensics by Rochester Institute of Technology is an advanced cybersecurity course that provides a procedural (4-step) concept of digital forensics.
The course also discusses Unix/Linux fundamentals, coupled with Windows investigations and forensics.
Here are the key topics covered in the course:
- Fundamentals of digital forensics
- Windows incident response
- Unix/Linux forensic investigation
- Forensics reporting and reviewing
Duration: The course takes 8 weeks, with learners studying 10-12 hours per week (80-96 hours)
Career prospects: This is an advanced course whose learners must have studied the fundamentals of cybersecurity. It prepares you for advanced roles such as cloud computing security.
14. Real-Time Cyber Threat Detection and Mitigation (Coursera)
The Real-time Cyber Threat Detection and Mitigation course provides a detailed look into network security, TCP/IP security hacks, and firewall solutions.
The course introduces learners to the procedures for designing and configuring firewall solutions, such as packet filters, to secure enterprise assets.
The 4 modules in this course cover the following broad topics:
- Basic network security
- Network security technologies
- Network security architectures
- Enterprise network security
Duration: Learners can cover the four modules in approximately 15 hours.
Certification: Upon completion, you are eligible for a free certification upon, shareable on LinkedIn.
Career prospects: This course is designed for intermediate computer networks and security professionals. It is a perfect blend of the 4-course Introduction to Cybersecurity Specialization. You’ll be equipped for advanced roles in network security and firewall administration.
15. Enterprise and Infrastructure Security (Coursera)
This course also dives into emerging security issues in blinding algorithms, blockchains, critical infrastructure protection, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Here are the modules covered:
- Security Awareness, Compliance, Assessments and Risk
- Hybrid cloud security
- Blockchain, anonymity, and critical infrastructure protection
- Mobility security and deception
Duration: Approximately 15 hours to complete the course.
Certification: Learners receive a certificate of completion.
Career prospects: This is an intermediate course that requires a basic knowledge of the fundamentals of cybersecurity. It is designed for computer network and security enthusiasts and professionals who are in the mid-level of their careers. Hence, it is a stepping stone to more advanced courses and subsequent roles.
Free cybersecurity courses offer the best opportunity to start your career at no cost!
The cybersecurity profession started to emerge as a critical need for organizations worldwide when more businesses embraced digital transformation. It's now reached a point where the shortage of cybersecurity professionals is alarming and this is causing deep worries for companies and governments. The global shortage of cybersecurity talent is estimated to be over 3 million.
But for you, this is where the opportunity lies. The good thing is that unlike in the past when you had to invest some upfront money to kickstart a career in cybersecurity, the barriers have been shattered. And for most cases, it doesn't matter where you are in the world. You can simply take out your laptop (or borrow) and get started on a journey to become the next big thing in cybersecurity. Any of the courses in this list can get you there. The first step? START!
If you are an MSP and keen to boost a competitive advantage with certifications, these MSP certifications will come in handy both for the organization and individual employees.