Free Learning Resources for the Cyber Security Beginner

As we become more and more dependent on digital ecosystems, cyberattacks grow more sophisticated and frequent year after year; targeting both businesses and individuals with often alarming consequences and resulting costs. Stronger cybersecurity measures are needed to defend against these, with the stakes getting higher as technology becomes more advanced and our reliance on it more fundamental to the global economy and our everyday lives.


As a career, cybersecurity has a very bright future. Luckily, as with most digital skills, there are free courses online that can help you learn this, even if you’re a complete beginner. Here are our top choices.       

Future Learn

Future Learn offers diverse courses from top universities and institutions around the world, all in a step-by-step format and with a flexible schedule. It’s owned by Open University (OU), the largest undergrad university in the UK and a distance learning pioneer.

Their Introduction to Cybersecurity course introduces you to authentication, malware, network security, and risk management while giving you practical skills for recognising and responding to threats. It’s considered part of GCHQ certified training, accredited by the London-based Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP), and supported by the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Programme. Another helpful course is Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, in Life, which presents over three weeks how cybersecurity works in day-to-day life.  


Cybrary is a free platform that was created to make learning cybersecurity accessible to everyone. Once you create an account, you gain access to plenty of resources, which include cybersecurity courses as well as practice labs and assessments. Their courses consist mostly of video classes, with a curriculum that will prep you to be certification-ready. You can search through these by level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) or by vendor (e.g. Cisco and Microsoft).

For beginners, there are more than ten pages worth of courses, tackling topics such as phishing, network fundamentals, and cybersecurity architecture. If you’re not sure where to start, go with Comptia A+ 902, which will give you a thorough foundation on basic concepts and train you for the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam.     

Heimdal Security

Heimdal Security is an award-winning cybersecurity company that’s also a thought leader providing user education through free online courses and other resources.


Their Cyber Security for Beginners course gives clear, actionable advice for defending your device and data from cyber threats. Lessons are sent via email every two days, lasting for five weeks with twenty lessons in total. A must for anybody who wants to stay safe online, it covers cybersecurity basics and tools, threat detection and prevention, how to help others protect themselves, and making your online data bulletproof. At the end of this email course, you’ll know how cyberattacks work and pick up useful skills such as counteracting virus infections.                          

Sans Cyber Aces

SANS Cyber Aces is a philanthropic project by SANS, the world’s top provider of information security certification and training. Aside from making available the largest collection of information security research documents to the public, they set up Sans Cyber Aces to help anybody interested in a cybersecurity career.


Their courses on cybersecurity fundamentals teach the core principles of the industry and covers the following areas: operating systems, networking, and system administration. In particular, these discuss Linux and Windows 7, networking layers, web scripting, Bash, and PowerShell. Each lesson is presented through a video, and PDF handouts with the video slides and a transcript are included. You can also register for an optional quiz that tests your understanding of the course.


Coursera is another popular online learning platform with thousands of online courses from different universities and companies. While certification is available for a fee, you can view the contents of most of their courses for free. Their Computer Security and Networks category has a plethora of courses that you can choose from, with topics such as cryptography, usable security, and international cybersecurity conflicts.

Cybersecurity newbies can take the Introduction to Security Specialisationby NYU, which doesn’t require any prior knowledge. This consists of four courses, which you can take on their own: Introduction to Cyber Attacks, Cyber Attack Countermeasures, Real-Time Cyber Threat Detection and Mitigation, and Enterprise and Infrastructure Creativity. For those who are already familiar with the fundamentals, you can take the University of Maryland’s Cybersecurity Specialisation instead.   

These courses are geared towards beginners, but you won’t have a hard time looking for more resources once you’ve advanced beyond that! Through consistent studying and practice, you can increase your skills and technical knowledge and progress towards becoming a cybersecurity professional.

Study Tips To Help You Pass Your Cyber Security Certifications

People with cyber security skills are in demand nowadays. According to the Cyber Security Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure report, despite the UK having the most vibrant digital economies in the world, it’s lacking the cyber security skills base to match.

It goes without saying that getting a cyber security certification will be beneficial to your career as the job market is currently in need of such skills. It is worth noting though that there are a lot of cyber security certifications available out there so you might want to educate yourself about them first, then choose which one is is best suited for you.


1. Be thorough. Understand the prerequisites of the particular certification you want to obtain. After which, go through every domain in the study guides and make sure that you get a good grasp of every term outlined in them. To help you understand and retain the concepts better, come up with practical applications to connect them to.

2. Do not rely on one study guide. If time permits, study more than one reference to ensure that you get everything covered. Be careful not to use too much learning materials though as you may end up getting confused.

3. Enroll in a Certification Prep Course. Taking part of this will provide you with expert instruction and advice that will help you do better in the exams. If you have questions, this will serve as a great venue for you to get your questions addressed and maybe even clarify exam-related concerns that’s on your mind.

4. Network with people who are about to take the exam as well. Apart from interacting with people who are about to qualify for a cyber security certification while in the prep course, you can also join an online group for support. Doing so will allow you to exchange tips with each other as well as provide each other support through study groups, or group discussions. And if you don’t have budget to enroll in a certification prep course, this will be a cost-effective way for you to learn from other people.

5. Manage your time wisely. Chances are you’ll be using various methods to prepare yourself for your certification. If this is the case, make sure to budget your time among reading study guides, taking practice exams, attending group discussions or trainings, accordingly. Most importantly, don’t forget to factor in sleep in your schedule. Remember, your ability to focus and retain knowledge can get affected if you don’t get enough rest. This is particularly important on the night before your exam. You’d want to have a clear mind and be energised during your big day so that you can perform at your optimum.

6. Come up with a plan. Think of how you’ll take on each part of the exam. We all have our waterloo, so make sure you allot enough time for each domain, including the parts that you find the most difficult.

7. Take note of the marking scheme. Make sure that you understand the marking scheme of the certification you are about to take. Knowing the minimum passing score is also helpful. Having this down to pat will allow you to appropriate your time and effort accordingly.

8. Know your weak areas and focus on them. As you review for your exams, make sure to prioritise the domains that you have a hard time understanding. Spend more time studying and taking practice exams for those areas until you’re confident enough to tackle them.


Cyber security certifications can be hard to acquire, but getting qualified through a recognised provider can open new doors for you in your career. We hope you find these tips helpful as you try to add these certifications to your credentials.