Free Online Cybersecurity Courses


Updated October 18, 2023

Students looking for free online cybersecurity courses can use MOOCs. Consider taking free cybersecurity classes as an introduction to the field. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Some of the top colleges and universities in the world offer massive open online courses (MOOCs). These free classes cover many topics relevant to cybersecurity professionals, including networking, operating systems, database management, and security.

Most MOOCs require students to interact with other participants through message boards or forums. While many MOOCs do not offer college credit and are not geared toward postgraduate study, they can be useful tools for anyone interested in learning more about cybersecurity.

This guide explores the top free online cybersecurity courses and who should take them.

Pros and Cons of Free Online Courses in Cybersecurity

The main benefit of free online cybersecurity training is cost. Because MOOCs are usually free, students can use them to explore topics relevant to degrees in cybersecurity or related fields without incurring high tuition bills. The main drawback is that most free online courses do not provide the hands-on experience of an in-person classroom.

Consider these other pros and cons of cybersecurity MOOCs:

Pros of Free Online Cybersecurity Classes

  • Students can learn at their own pace.
  • No admission requirements like minimum GPA or standardized test scores.
  • Often, professors at prominent schools prepare MOOC content.

Cons of Free Online Cybersecurity Classes

  • While some free courses lead to certificates, those certificates often require tuition.
  • According to a study published in Science, many students don't complete the MOOCs in which they enroll. In the 2017-18 school year, only 3.13% of learners completed their courses.
  • Students receive little or no personalized attention or courseware.

Who Benefits From Free Cybersecurity Classes?

Students looking to enter the cybersecurity field from a variety of educational backgrounds can benefit from free online courses.

For students with no prior experience, free cybersecurity training can teach them about the basics of information security. Professionals who already work in the field but want to enhance their skills can benefit from classes that focus on current trends in cybersecurity. Organizations sometimes use free cybersecurity training courses for career development and employee training.

Free Online Cybersecurity Courses

Students can access all courses below for free, though our list is not exhaustive. Organizations such as edX and Coursera charge tuition for learners who want the graded class option and a certificate of completion. These companies also assess a fee for students who want to stack their courses to complete credentials like a MicroMasters® program.

CISSP® Introduction to Information Security

Provider: Simplilearn
Duration: 12 hours
Lessons: 11 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Security and risk management
  • Asset security architecture and design
  • Cryptography OSI and TCPIP models
  • IP addresses
  • Network security
  • Identity and access management
  • Security assessment and testing
  • Software development security

Created for professionals with experience in security engineering or architecture, this course offers a video-based introduction to information security. The class provides 90-day access. Students who complete the coursework can earn a certificate.

Cybersecurity Basics

Provider: IBM / edX
Duration: 16-32 hours
Lessons: 4 modules

Topics Covered

  • Key cybersecurity terms
  • Penetration testing basics
  • Cryptography
  • Firewalls
  • Social engineering
  • Attack models

Cybersecurity basics covers the history of cybersecurity, types of cyberattacks, and key security concepts and tools. This class serves beginning learners. Graduates can apply the course toward the requirements for the professional certificate in IBM cybersecurity fundamentals.

Introduction to Cyber Attacks

Provider: New York University / Coursera
Duration: 19 hours
Lessons: 4 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Cybersecurity
  • Information security
  • Denial-of-service attacks
  • Risk assessment

Through this class, students can gain a basic understanding of analytical models used to address cybersecurity risks, threats, and vulnerabilities. The course also covers how cyberattacks are built and deployed. Graduates can apply this class to NYU's four-course introduction to cybersecurity specialization.

Cyberattack Countermeasures

Provider: New York University / Coursera
Duration: 19 hours
Lessons: 4 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Cybersecurity
  • Cryptography
  • Public-key cryptography

In this course, learners study the basics of cyberdefense, including foundational models such as Bell-LaPadula and information flow frameworks, authentication solutions and protocols, and cryptography. Graduates can apply this class to NYU's four-course introduction to cybersecurity specialization.

Real-Time Cyber Threat Detection and Mitigation

Provider: New York University / Coursera
Duration: 15 hours
Lessons: 4 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Basic network security
  • Security architecture
  • Enterprise network security

This class teaches enrollees about TCP/IP security hacks, network security, and firewall solutions. This course is for intermediate learners. Graduates can apply this course to NYU's four-course introduction to cybersecurity specialization.

Enterprise and Infrastructure Security

Provider: New York University / Coursera
Duration: 15 hours
Lessons: 4 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Hybrid cloud security
  • Blockchain, anonymity, and critical infrastructure protection
  • Mobility security and deception

In this course, learners explore enterprise compliance frameworks. Topics include security issues in the Internet of Things, blockchain, and blinding algorithms. This class is for intermediate learners. Graduates can apply the course to NYU's four-course introduction to cybersecurity specialization.

Penetration Testing - Discovering Vulnerabilities

Provider: New York University / edX
Duration: 40-50 hours
Lessons: 4 modules and a final exam

Topics Covered

  • Penetration testing
  • Identifying potential target systems
  • Identifying possible entry points into a tested system
  • Configuring vulnerability scanners and analyzing their results

In this self-paced course, learners explore ethical hacking. Topics include scoping penetration tests, reconnaissance, and vulnerability enumeration. Students can use this course to prepare for CompTIA's security+ certification exam. This course is part of NYU's nine-course sequence leading to their cybersecurity fundamentals MicroBachelors program.

Computer Forensics

Provider: Rochester Institute of Technology / edX
Duration: 80-96 hours
Lessons: 7 modules and a course review

Topics Covered

  • Legal validity of investigative procedures
  • Windows and Unix/Linux file systems and their recovery processes
  • Forensics tools and system images
  • Forensics reporting and reviewing

Learners in this class study digital forensics fundamentals, including the four-step procedure concept. The course then moves into Unix/Linux fundamentals and Windows forensics and investigations. This course makes up part of NYU's five graduate-level course sequence leading to the MicroMasters® program in cybersecurity.

Building a Cybersecurity Toolkit

Provider: University of Washington / edX
Duration: 12-30 hours

Topics Covered

  • Cybersecurity tools and skills
  • Knowing the proper tools for common security scenarios
  • Applying knowledge of toolkits to various cybersecurity roles

This introductory course teaches students about the tools, skills, and characteristics needed for successful cybersecurity careers. It makes up part of UW's professional certificate in essentials of cybersecurity.

Introduction to Cybercrime

Provider: Simplilearn
Duration: 2 hours
Lessons: 10 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Identifying cyberattacks
  • Preventing cybercrime

Learners in this class explore the skills and tools required for successful information security careers. The course teaches students about various cybersecurity attacks and how to prevent them.

Cloud Security Basics

Provider: University of Minnesota / Coursera
Duration: 13 hours
Lessons: 4 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Network cryptography
  • Network security
  • Cloud computing security
  • Cybersecurity
  • Common vulnerability scoring system

In this free online course, students learn to design a secure cloud service, assess vulnerabilities and risk levels in cloud services, and employ network security techniques for the cloud. Graduates can apply this course toward the four courses required to earn the cybersecurity in the cloud specialization at UMN.

Managing Cybersecurity Incidents and Disasters

Provider: University System of Georgia / Coursera
Duration: 15 hours
Lessons: 4 lessons

Topics Covered

  • Cybersecurity contingency planning
  • Incident response
  • Disaster recovery
  • Contingency and continuity strategies

One of five courses in the managing cybersecurity specialization from the University System of Georgia, this course focuses on contingency planning. Students learn to manage operations during non-normal security situations, including cybersecurity hacks. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Questions About Free Classes in Cybersecurity

Can I take cybersecurity courses online?

Yes. Colleges and universities offer for-credit and noncredit courses in cybersecurity. To take for-credit courses, students may need to enroll in an academic program. Non-credit courses may simply require signing up to do the work.

How can I get cybersecurity training for free?

Students can take free cybersecurity courses online from many organizations, including some of the top educational institutions in the U.S. These courses may cover cybersecurity basics or focus on specific topics such as cryptography, hardware security, or cybersecurity and human rights.

What are the best cybersecurity classes for beginners?

Beginners may want to enroll in introductory-level MOOCS. Courses such as foundations of cybersecurity or introduction to cybersecurity can introduce learners to the discipline and prepare them for future learning.

Are free online courses in cybersecurity legitimate?

Free online cybersecurity classes may not provide college credit, but that does not diminish the legitimacy or value of their content. A study from the American Educational Research Association shows employers value applicants with MOOC credentials over those without them.

What to Expect From Free Online Cybersecurity Courses

Students in MOOCs typically rely on video-based lessons rather than textbooks or other supplemental materials. Some free online cybersecurity courses incorporate discussion boards, quizzes, and projects. MOOCs typically require less time than a conventional class and can be accessed on demand.

Prerecorded lectures usually cover foundational topics like cryptography and cyberattacks, but may also include more specialized information about areas such as mobile security and cloud computing. For an additional fee, some classes offer a graded version of the course.

MOOCs can accommodate beginning, intermediate, or experienced students. Usually, the course's promotional material describes the target student, course requirements, and topics covered.

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