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Learn computer security with online courses and programs

The world is more digitally connected than ever before, making computer security vital for individuals and businesses. Skilled computer security specialists are able to guard against increasing cyberattacks, security breaches, and hacks.

What is computer security?

The terms computer security, cybersecurity, and information technology (IT) security are often used interchangeably. Essentially, computer security refers to the protection of computer systems from theft, damage, misuse or disruption. This includes the hardware, software, electronic data and services.

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Why learn computer security?

Businesses, governments, and individuals store a lot of data on computers, networks, and in the cloud. A data breach can be devastating and costly. This has created openings for computer security and cybersecurity specialists to play a critical role in the protection of every organization’s data. 

There are a number of different positions for professionals with computer security training, ranging from cybersecurity specialists, who ensure that all aspects of personal computers are kept safe, to computer security managers who continually check for loopholes and threats such as malware, ransomware and phishing schemes.  

Computer security course curriculum 

edX offers learners a multitude of courses in computer security from various universities and institutions. A computer security curriculum may cover everything from basic computer science to the emerging issues with the cloud. Topics may include:

  • How to set up and secure basic computer systems and networks

  • How to apply information security risk management frameworks and methodologies

  • How to implement network security solutions and detect intrusions

  • How to conduct a digital forensics investigation that can be used in court

  • How to practice cybersecurity skills in real-world scenarios

To further explore computer security topics, courses are also available on the different types of security software, information security authentication and access control,and handling network security for enterprises. 

Computer security tutorials, training courses, and boot camps can be great ways to learn practical skills you can apply on the job immediately. 

Jobs in computer security

There are many roles in computer security worth pursuing. These include: 

  • Information security specialist: These experts often define organizational guidelines for systems and processes that keep private information safe. They advise and train others on areas of vulnerability and ways to mitigate cybersecurity threats.Footnote 1

  • Information systems security officer: When security issues occur, these experts will play a key role in responding, reporting, investigating, and solving vulnerabilities.Footnote 2

  • Cybersecurity specialist: Like the positions above, these specialists play an important function in maintaining the networks and data of organizations. But they also anticipate and prepare for future threats.Footnote 3

  • Penetration tester: Those in this role are legally and ethically allowed to test networks and applications to identify vulnerabilities. They will also do physical assessments, conduct security audits, analyze security policies, and collate reports.Footnote 4

  • Network security analyst: These analysts are in charge of preventing data loss and service interruptions by installing security measures like firewalls and data encryption. They also need to stay abreast of emerging threats, hacker methodologies and new forms of protection.Footnote 5

  • Systems analyst: These are IT professionals who ensure that systems, infrastructures, and computer systems are functioning as efficiently as possible. They study current systems, procedures and business processes to create action plans for the organization’s requirements.Footnote 6

  • Computer security analyst: Also known as information systems security analysts. Security analysts are responsible for ensuring that an organization’s online and on-premises infrastructures are secure. They look through data to filter out suspicious activity and mitigate risks. When breaches happen, security analysts may lead counter efforts to the attacks.Footnote 7

How to become a computer security analyst online

Requirements vary for computer or information security analysts based on the employer, your particular role, and your background experience. So your career path may not be clear cut. 

Most professionals working as information security analysts hold a bachelor’s degree.Footnote 8 This may be a bachelor’s degree in computer or data science or a related field. Some professionals in more senior roles may hold a master’s degree.

Employers may also prefer to hire analysts who have professional certification. A large portion of people working in computer security say a post-baccalaureate certificate is required for their job.Footnote 9 Some of these certifications, such as CompTIA Security+, are for entry-level workers, while others, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), are geared toward experienced information security workers. You can also pursue certification in specialized areas, such as systems auditing.Footnote 10

Many computer security analysts have work experience in a related field, such as information technology, in positions such as as a network and computer systems administrator. 

Assess your experience and goals and determine the gaps in your skill set. Then you can research whether a computer security course, professional certificate program, or another option is your best choice. Online cybersecurity boot camps teach you technical skills in as few as 24 weeks. Learn cybersecurity from curriculums that cover Windows and Linux administration techniques, risk management, penetration testing, cloud security, Metasploit, Hashcat, and more.