What to look for in a cybersecurity course online

Cybercrime continues to soar, costing Australia over $15 billion each year.

Between 2018 to 2019 alone, companies recorded a cumulative amount of 9.2 million malware detections – with ransomware topping the five most prevalent threats alongside viruses, adware, phishing e-mails, and spyware.

Investments in all types of high-grade, reliable software such as VPN services, firewall, and anti-virus programs can help; though such technology can only do so much. If users lack the knowledge required to identify, mitigate, and eliminate threats, hackers will continue to flourish. After all, human error has been found to be the greatest risk to cybersecurity; accounting for more than half of data breaches to the health sector in 2019, and nearly half of the breaches to the finance sector in the same year.

Equipping yourself with fundamental skills in cybersecurity is your best bet to ensuring the safety of your company or home network. Fortunately, plenty of courses in the field can now be found online – providing flexible, convenient options to upskill.

Below, we outline key areas to look for when selecting a cybersecurity course online, ensuring you build the well-rounded knowledge required to keep your data and systems safe – or even pursue a rewarding career in the field.

How to identify and mitigate threats

Though it goes without saying, a quality course in cybersecurity must train its students in the identification, mitigation, and elimination or escalation of threats.

Your program should focus on comparing and contrasting various types of attacks and hacking methods, along identifying the symptoms of a possible breach. Students should learn of the various actor types, their attributes, and different forms of malware. The course should also explore the concepts of penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and the proper software tools for carrying out these procedures or related security assessments.

Students should also be made familiar with the common tools and safeguards one can implement to protect their data. These include the use of firewalls, VPNs, encryption methods, multi-factor authentication, and networking monitoring tools, among others. They must also be taught the basic concepts of disaster recovery, risk management, cryptography, and continuity of operation.

With these vital subjects in place, individuals who complete the course should be well-equipped to follow incident response procedures, perform frequent risk assessments, troubleshoot common security issues, evaluate software for any vulnerabilities and secure operating systems at a fundamental level.

Network security

While learning to secure individual devices is vital (also known as “endpoint security”); it’s also crucial to consider your overall network when planning your cybersecurity strategy.

Network security focuses on the ways your various devices interact, and the transmissions made between them. Its goal is to secure your general IT infrastructure from unauthorised access, misuse, and modification; ensuring a safe, low-risk environment for your computers and mobile devices to operate within.

Experts often consider this to be the utmost priority when securing one’s data – as hackers can’t get to your computer or device if they can’t make it past your network. As such, a quality online cybersecurity course offers subjects that focus on networking concepts and security tactics.

Students should become familiar with the essential components of a network (both hardware and software-based), along with methods of installation and configuration to ensure organisational security. Individuals should also be taught to troubleshoot for network problems, along with how to identify the benefits and vulnerabilities of existing network configurations.

Topics exploring broader networking concepts – such as managing virtualised networks; the design and implementation of functional networks; and methods of ensuring network resilience – can also benefit those seeking to acquire a robust knowledge of network cybersecurity.

Backup and recovery methods

So you may have familiarised yourself with the tools and preventative methods for keeping cybersecurity threats at bay (both for endpoint devices and your overall network) – but what do you do when data breaches do occur?

Having an effective backup and recovery strategy plays a key role in mapping out your security plans. Affected businesses who have had the easiest time restoring their systems in the case of a breach were also often the ones with well-prepared contingency plans beforehand.

Today’s companies are thus increasingly encouraged to adopt effective backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions to minimise the impact of a cyber-attack. A good cybersecurity program should thus teach its students the importance of such methods; and train them in basic backup and recovery procedures as well as best security practices for data storage and management.

Students must also understand the critical role that company policies and procedures play in ensuring the data security of an organisation (and methods of properly implementing these in the workplace).

By the end of their study, course graduates should not only have a firm grasp of how to spot and manage threats as they occur – but also methods of reducing risk, and backup plans in the face of unforeseen attacks.

A focus on soft skills

Aspiring cybersecurity professionals should seek courses that exercise one’s set of soft skills.

Though the field is primarily focused on the technicalities of preventing and resolving attacks; a career in cybersecurity also requires proficiency in workplace communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving. Even those simply looking to upskill can benefit from brushing up on these transferable skillsets.

Cybersecurity workers will often find themselves explaining complex subjects and concepts to others in the workplace – usually those with little to no technical background. The ability to present ideas and communicate in clear, concise, and plain language is thus critical to succeed in the field. You’ll also often be dealing with clients or customers, so exercising active listening is a necessity.

Since typical duties of the profession are analytical and methodical in nature; a keen attention to detail and skills in problem solving and critical thinking are a must. A robust cybersecurity course will simulate tasks that require the use of such skills and collaborative workplace abilities. Such skills will not only help one stand out in the cybersecurity job market – but in those of most, if not all, industries.

Looking to study cybersecurity online?

Whether you’re looking to brush up on basic security skills (for the sake of your personal or company network) – or seeking to pursue a fulfilling career in the industry; undertaking an online course can help you get your foot in the door.

The Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT) provides its students with the Certified Cybersecurity Professional course; a six-month online program covering all the aforementioned skills areas that comprise the field. Made up of three certifications by CompTIA (Network+, Security+, and A+) – a leading figure in the global IT industry – students can equip themselves with security skills in networking, data management, policy development, and more.

Protect your data against the rising trend of cybercrime, and enquire with us today