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.

A Guide to HP, Cisco and Microsoft Cyber Security Courses

There are a ton of course out there offered by independent groups like CISMP, CISP and the EC Council, but there are also some incredibly well respected courses offered by some of the leading tech companies. In this guide I want to look at some of those courses, specifically those offered by HP, Cisco and Microsoft.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE offers vendor-agnostic cyber security education and certification with an organisational perspective and a focus on practical strategy development.

As of this writing, HPE has no scheduled classes and listed pricing for its cyber security courses.

1. Information Security Essentials

  • See how businesses can benefit from information security on a holistic level;
  • Create and integrate a complete information security strategy; and
  • Qualify for the succeeding higher-level HPE courses.

Duration: 3 days

Requirements: A basic understanding of operating systems and networks


2. Information Security Essentials Plus

  • Apply ISO 27001 standards to your organisation
  • Prepare you for the Certified Information Security Management Principles (CISMP) certification

Duration: 2 days

Requirements: Information Security Essentials (HL945S)


3. Information Security Risk Management and Business Continuity Planning

  • Assess and manage risks to avoid breaches or minimise damage
  • Adapt to unexpected situations

Duration: 3 days

Requirements: HPE Security Essentials (HL945S) or equivalent knowledge


4. HPE Security Governance and Policies

  • Create a practical and effective security governance strategy
  • Understand the importance of compliance regulations and industry standard best practices in developing security policies.

Duration: 2 days

Requirements: HPE Security Foundation (HL945S) or equivalent is required; HPE Risk Management (HL946s) is recommended


Cisco provides comprehensive cyber security courses that implement company products for hands-on learning.

TakeCCNP courses to further your understanding of Cisco’s cyber security solutions. These are self-paced training modules with access durations of 365 days.

1. Implementing Cisco Network Security

You’ll gain foundational knowledge of cyber security principles, and learn how to utilise Cisco security products to implement basic security techniques.

Cost: $1,000 (£785.56)

Requirements (recommended, not required):

  • Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 or equivalent
  • Windows OS knowledge
  • Cisco IOS networking and concepts knowledge

2. Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Fundamentals

Advance your knowledge of security concepts and network applications; allow you to understand basic cryptography principles; and establish your security monitoring fundamentals.

Cost: $1,500 (£1,178.35)

Requirements (recommended, not required):

  • Basic IPv4 and IPv6 addressing
  • Windows and Linux OS knowledge

3. Implementing Cisco Cybersecurity Operations

Learn how a Security Operations Center (SOC) works.

Cost: $1,500 (£1,178.35)

Requirements (recommended, not required):

  • Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Fundamentals
  • Windows OS knowledge
  • Cisco IOS networking and concepts knowledge


TheMicrosoft Professional Program in Cybersecurity has in-depth lessons on security systems setup, breach detection, and threat response. It costs $99 (£77.77) per course for certification.

1. Enterprise Security Fundamentals

Know what works in enterprise security today and learn how to build a security strategy for your organisation.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-4 hours per week

Requirements: Awareness of current cyber security ecosystem

2. Threat Detection: Planning for a Secure Enterprise

Taking this course will give you an overview of threat detection and mitigation tools. You’ll also understand why threat detection monitoring is critical.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-4 hours per week


  • Awareness of the current cyber security ecosystem
  • Analysis of hacks on computers and networks
  • Basic Risk Management

3. Planning a Security Incident Response

Learn how to prepare for a security incident and the proper ways to respond.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-4 hours per week

Requirements: Awareness of the current cyber security ecosystems

4. Powershell Security Best Practices

Gain a comprehensive understanding of Powershell. You’ll also know how to perform administrative tasks securely.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-4 hours per week

Requirements (prior experience):

  • Windows networking
  • Windows Server administration
  • Windows PowerShell

5. Managing Identity

Understand why and how identity decides what security systems you can implement.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-3 hours per week


  • Windows Client administration, maintenance, and troubleshooting
  • Introductory level knowledge of Active Directory
  • Accessing and using simple Windows PowerShell commands

6. Security in Office 365

Know how to utilise Office 365’s security features; identify what threatens your organisation’s data.

Duration: 5 weeks, 2-4 hours per week


  • Understanding of cloud-based service concepts, Office 365 and its services
  • Background knowledge in security requirements and threats in IT communications

7. Securing Data in Azure and SQL Server

Learn user authentication and authorisation in an SQL Server; audit and secure databases in related platforms.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-3 hours per week


  • Familiarity with database concepts and basic SQL query syntax
  • An Azure subscription if you want to do the hands-on elements.

8. Microsoft SharePoint 2016: Authentication and Security

Implement SharePoint security features; manage user profiles and permission sets.

Duration: 9 weeks, 3-5 hours per week


  • Knowledge of Windows Server 2012 R2 roles and features
  • Foundational knowledge of SQL Server

9. Windows 10 Security Features

Get a comprehensive look at Windows 10’s security architecture and features.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-4 hours per week

Requirements (an understanding of the following):

  • Windows client administration, maintenance, and troubleshooting
  • Windows networking technologies
  • Active Directory
  • Windows Server administration

10. Windows Server 2016 Security Features

Learn to safeguard data centers with the new Windows Server 2016 security features. Then, learn about Desired State Configuration (DSC).

Duration: 5 weeks, 2-4 hours per week

11. Microsoft Azure Security Services

Maximise Azure’s security services to protect cloud data; familiarise yourself with Microsoft Intune for Windows, iOS, and Android devices.

Duration: 4 weeks, 2-4 hours per week

Requirements (an understanding of):

  • On premises TCP/IP networking
  • Mobile device management
  • General cloud principles

If you’d like more information on some of the course out there, have a browse through our current listing to see some of the upcoming courses. Alternatively drop us an email or a call to find out more about any of the courses above.

Cyber Security University Courses UK

Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that business cyber crime in the country is up by 63% in 2017. However, the shortage in cyber professionals continues to grow worldwide, leaving plenty of UK businesses vulnerable to attacks.

With high demand and low supply, more and more companies are willing to invest in cyber professionals to protect their personal and sensitive data. This gives plenty of hopefuls the chance to earn more in this industry.

But given the responsibilities you would need to take on, especially the higher you go up the ladder, having an undergraduate degree becomes increasingly important in opening doors. These courses will give you the theoretical and practical foundations you would need to handle the various aspects of cyber security, and be a valuable addition to any business.

Below are GCHQ-accredited cyber security courses across various universities in the country that you can choose from:

1.     University of Oxford: MSc in Software and Systems Security

With an outstanding global reputation as one of the top universities in the world, the University of Oxford’s MSc in Software and Systems Security lays the foundation for systems security by highlighting software, information technologies, and security properties.

Designed for those in full-time employment, you’ll learn how to better apply these principles to real-world situations and stay updated with the latest best practices in the industry—taught by world-class experts in 10 different subject areas.


  • Duration


Part-time module (roughly three courses per year), 2 to 4 years.



  • Requirements



Undergraduate degrees with honours (or equivalent) in related subjects like informatics, engineering, or computer science. You are also required to have at least two years of professional experience.

Those without formal training can still apply, as long as you have extensive experience and/or qualifications.


  • Fees


This programme is priced per module. For those living in the UK/EU, registration fee costs £8,660, while each module costs £2,170. For those outside the UK/EU, registration fee costs £14,785, while each module costs £2,170.

For a total estimated fees, go to their department’s website.


  • Careers After Graduation


Since this programme is for full-time employees, most students return to their current jobs to aim for higher/more specialised positions.

2.     Lancaster University: MSc in Cyber Security

Lancaster University’s MSc in Cyber Security takes on a multi-disciplinary approach by merging technical skills with other disciplines (e.g. economics, risk management, psychology, and social science).

This programme focuses on four Information Security modules. You’ll also learn about network and systems security, as well as cybercrime. An individual project—requiring 200 hours of work and a 40,000-word dissertation—is required to hone your expertise and apply it to the world outside the classroom.


  • Duration


Full-time course for 12 months, or a part-time course for 24 to 36 months.


  • Requirements


A degree (or equivalent) in computer science, computer security, or other similar degrees. Previous modules on security, network and systems, programming, and cybercrime are also required. Relevant experience may be considered.


  • Fees


Full-time course for UK/EU residents cost £9,500 per year, while it costs £20,500 for overseas students per year.

Part-time students from the UK/EU would need to pay £4,750 per year. Part-time course isn’t available for overseas students.


  • Careers After Graduation


This programme aims to prepare you for a career in cyber security, application and software security, and cyber law enforcement.

3.     Cranfield University: Cyber Defence and Information Assurance MSc/PgCert/PgDip

Cranfield University’s Cyber Defence and Information programme provides a unique learning blend of residential and online teaching.

The entire programme is designed for leaders—those who want to assess and defend against cyber threats at an organisational level. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to come up and execute responses to emerging and current threats.


  • Duration


All programmes are on part-time basis. MSc students will be able to graduate in 5 years, PgDip students in 4 years, and PgCert students in 3 years.


  • Requirements


You need to have any of the following: a first or second class honours degree; a third class degree but with experience; a pass degree with five years of experience; or HND/c with seven years of experience.

Those without degrees but have 10 years of experience will also be considered, given that you were involved in information security, information operations, information risk, or any related role.


  • Fees


For both UK/EU and overseas students, MSc fee is £31,000, PgDip fee is £21,100, and PgCert fee is £10,550.


  • Careers After Graduation


Managerial job roles, especially those who currently or aspire to be CIO or CISO. Upon graduation, you’ll learn how to assess and communicate cyber issues to senior management and/or the executive board.

4.     University of Birmingham: MSc in Cyber Security

The University of Birmingham’s MSc in Cyber Security aims to set the foundation for their students who want to pursue careers in software industry or research. Upon graduation, you’ll be able to design and build secure computer systems and processes.

Combining both theory and practice, this programme’s modules involve cryptography, network security, forensics, and secure programming. You’ll also have plenty of optional modules to choose from like penetration testing, advanced cryptography, and intelligent data analysis, among others.

Big industry players like Microsoft, Vodafone, and IBM often visit the campus to talk to students.


  • Duration


This is a full-time course, to be completed in 1 year.


  • Requirements


A 2:1 Honours degree in a related subject like computer science. Knowing data structures and algorithms is a plus.


  • Fees


UK/EU students are charged £9,250, while international students are charged £22,500. Both are annual tuition fees.


  • Careers After Graduation


After graduation, you can start forging your career in various cyber security roles like secure software development or cyber security consultants. You can also continue your studies and get a PhD. The university boasts of graduates who gained employment in Accenture, IBM, PriceWaterHouseCoopers, BT, and Delcam.

5.     Edinburgh Napier University: MSc in Advanced Security and Digital Forensics

Edinburgh Napier’s MSc in Advanced Security partners computer security with digital forensics and incident response.

This course focuses on network security, audit and compliance, malware analysis, cryptography, and host and mobile digital forensics. A dissertation project is required towards the end of the programme to enhance your specialism.


  • Duration


Full-time module lasts for 1 year; part-time for 2.5 to 4 years; and distance learning for 2.5 to 4 years.


  • Requirements


A bachelor’s degree in any computing discipline (e.g. computer science, computer networking, etc.) or other IT discipline. The university is open to considering those with less qualification, provided that there is sufficient experience in the industry.


  • Fees


Tuition would depend on your chosen module.

Full-time module for those from the UK or the EU would cost £5,850, while those from overseas would need to pay £15,150.

Meanwhile home/EU-taught modules cost £890, and home/EU-dissertation module costs £530. Overseas-taught modules cost £2,250, while overseas-dissertation module would cost £1,550.


  • Careers After Graduation


This programme can lead you to the following job positions: Security Consultant/Analyst

Penetration Tester, Network Security Analyst, Forensic Investigator, Audit/Compliance Consultant, Security Certification Engineer, Incident Response Analyst, Sys Admin, and Network Engineer.

6.     Royal Holloway: MSc in Information Security

Royal Holloway launched the first MSc in Information Security in the world back in 1992. This programme covers cryptography, security management, network security, computer security, security technologies, and secure business architectures.

The university’s close ties to industry employers in the country proves to be advantageous for students, as it would help you prepare for high-level information security positions.


  • Duration


The entire programme can be completed in 1 year if you do it full time. For part-time students, duration of the course is 2 years.

Those in the Continuous Professional Development programme will take 3 to 7 years to complete, while distance learning students can expect to graduate in 2 to 4 years.


  • Requirements


A UK 2:2 (Honours) or equivalent is required. Industry experience may also be considered, if it’s sufficient.


  • Fees


Tuition fee for UK/EU students is £11,300 per year, while international students’ tuition fee is £18,500 per year.

Part-time students are charged a pro-rata tuition fee (typically half of the full-time costs).


  • Careers After Graduation


You’ll be able to land a high-level position in the cyber security industry or move to more postgraduate studies. Your advanced knowledge after graduation will allow you to do data handling, analysis, research, problem solving, and many more for plenty of industries here and abroad (e.g. banking, telecommunications, civil service, etc.)

7.     University of York: MSc in Cyber Security

University of York’s MSc in Cyber Security aims to provide its students a strong foundation in cyber security by covering malware, cryptography, identity, trust and reputation, and risk management. You will also learn forensic analysis and developing secure systems.

This programme is composed of eight modules, with each including lectures, problem classes, practical classes, and personal study time. You will then undertake an individual project and dissertation which involves an academic staff member and an external organisation.


  • Duration


Full-time students can complete the programme in 1 year, while part-time students can do it in 3 years.


  • Requirements


A computer science (or related) degree is required and a background in software engineering, computer science, or IT. An upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) is also required.


  • Fees


Full-time students in the UK/EU will be asked to pay £8,580, while those from overseas will need to shell out £21,640.

Part-time students in the UK/EU will be asked to pay £2,863 the first year, while those from overseas will need to shell out £7,213. Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation by the university.


  • Careers After Graduation


Possible careers include counter-terrorism, cryptography, cyber and digital forensics, development and code analysis, incident response, intelligence operations, law, legalities and compliance, network security, and penetration testing.

You can also go the routes of policy and strategy, research and new developments, secure software, security architecture, security auditing, and vulnerability assessment.

Take Your Education To The Next Level

While there are many ways to break into the cyber security field, getting a bachelors and/or a master’s degree would give you a leg up against other applicants. In a lot of cases, a more advanced degree matters, depending on the position you are aiming for and what the company requirements are.

Do note that employers value education, certifications, and industry experience separately. One should not be seen as a replacement for another.


For more cyber security graduate courses, take a look at the latest courses that we offer. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us via our contact page.

If you’re already qualified and are looking for a job in cyber security, or an employer looking for candidates, then check out our sister site, Cyber Security Jobs.