The cybersecurity skills and talent gap are a worsening problem in the U.S.—and across the world. In fact, 80% of organizations globally have suffered one or more data breaches during the past year that the company could attribute to a lack of cybersecurity skills and/or awareness, according to a recent report from Fortinet.
“The skills gap isn’t just a talent shortage challenge, but it’s also severely impacting business, making it a top concern for executive leaders worldwide,” Sandra Wheatley, senior vice president of marketing for threat intelligence and influencer communications at Fortinet, said in a statement.
Since 2013, the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs has grown 350% from 1 million to 3.5 million, according to a 2022 report from Cybersecurity Ventures. There’s many ways to enter the burgeoning cybersecurity industry, whether it be pursuing a master’s degree, taking upskilling courses through an employer, or earning certifications.
“There are different archetypes of how people find their way into security,” Ryan LaSalle, head of Accenture Security’s North America practice, told Fortune in a recent interview. ”We will take a chance on people all the time. We’ve done it over and over again when we find people that we think have a real potential in security.”
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the cybersecurity world without dedicating too much time or money, many U.S. universities have free online courses that are available to anyone, even non-students. Fortune rounded up five of them to help you get your search started. All universities featured below have appeared on top graduate degree lists from Fortune, including cybersecurity, MBA, data science, and business analytics.
Cyberattacks continue to become more common; in fact, between 2020 and 2021, the number of attacks per year rose 31% to 270, according to a 2021 report from Accenture. The average number of successful attacks per company was 29.
People who are interested in learning more about cybersecurity threats, vulnerability, and risks may want to check out the four-week, online course hosted by New York University. The course, Introduction to Cyber Attacks, also covers basic cybersecurity risk analysis and basic security frameworks. The next offering of the course begins on Sept. 5, 2022, and is taught by Edward G. Amoroso, a researcher and professor with NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. Amoroso is also founder and CEO of TAG Cyber, a cybersecurity advisory and consultancy.
Cryptography helps provide secure communication between only a sender and the intended recipient. In other words, this important cybersecurity measure helps prevent adversary interference.
In Cryptography I, students learn the inner workings of cryptographic systems, and how to use them in practice. Participants in this course, hosted by Stanford University, will also have the opportunity to work on practice problems in the field. The course takes about 23 hours to complete over a seven-week period and has flexible deadlines for assignments. Participants who complete the course can share their certification on LinkedIn. Cryptography I is taught by Dan Boneh, a cryptography and electrical engineering professor at Stanford. He also heads up the applied cryptography group and co-directs the computer security lab at Stanford.
The Hardware Security course offered by the University of Maryland is part of the school’s online cybersecurity specialization program, which covers cybersecurity fundamentals, hardware, and cryptography. This class focuses on understanding digital system design flow vulnerabilities and physical attacks to these systems.
Taught by Gang Qu, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, Hardware Security also covers the notion that security stems from hardware design and teaches students how to use tools to strengthen and secure hardware. The class takes about 12 hours to complete over seven weeks. Students who enroll in the cybersecurity specialization program can earn a certificate upon completion.
At the University of Michigan, students can enroll in Internet History, Technology, and Security, which offers an overview of the basics of network technology and how the internet impacts our lives, culture, and society. The course also covers the beginning of the Internet, including how it was made, who made it, and how it works. Other course topics include Internet commercialization and growth and transport control protocol.
During the last two weeks of the 10-week course, students also learn about web security and encrypting to better protect data. Charles Russell Severance, a clinical professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, teaches the course, which takes a total of about 15 hours to complete.
Western Governors University is ranked by Fortune as having one of the top online cybersecurity master’s programs in the U.S. Network and Security Foundations covers the components of computer networks and basic security concepts associated with networks. In this intro-level course, students also get an introduction to network security, threat, risk mitigation, and security management concepts and practices.
The course is taught by Gerri Light, program chair of WGU’s College of IT, and Michelle Watt, a WGU instructor. The self-paced course takes up to 10 hours each week to complete over an eight-week period. WGU also offers an unlimited-access version of the course for $166.08, which allows students to review materials after the course ends. Otherwise, students can complete the course for free with limited access to materials just during the enrollment period.
See how the schools you’re considering fared in Fortune’s rankings of the best master’s degree programs in data science (in-person and online), nursing, computer science, cybersecurity, psychology, public health, and business analytics, as well as the doctorate in education programs MBA programs (part-time, executive, full-time, and online).