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Learn network security with online courses and programs

Explore these network security courses to learn more about cybersecurity and network security engineer careers.

What is network security?

Network security is a subset of cybersecurity that involves the protection of data, applications, hardware, and other infrastructure connected to a computer network.Footnote 1 Network security protects these systems and the sensitive information they contain from malware and ransomware attacks, hacking, security intrusions, and other unauthorized breaches. As more organizations become more dispersed, models of network security are ever-evolving to incorporate different layers of security that protect organizations’ vulnerabilities and prevent cyber attacks from multiple angles.

Network security courses can help those interested in information systems and network security enter the field, and they may also help information technology professionals earn professional certificates to advance their careers. Read on to learn more about network security, including careers in network security and different types of courses in network security.

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Why learn network security?

There are different types of network security, including:Footnote 2

  • Access controls

  • Anti-virus and anti-malware software

  • Application security

  • Cloud security 

  • Data loss prevention

  • Firewalls

  • Industrial network security

  • Intrusion prevention systems

  • Mobile device security

  • Virtual private networks

  • Web security

  • Wireless network security

Learning network security allows professionals to help protect individuals, businesses, and other organizations from cyber threats.Footnote 3 Organizations and businesses in most industries rely on some form of computer networks, digital communication, and virtual data storage, so network security is useful regardless of the industry in which a professional works to help keep computer systems and data protected. Individuals and families with home internet are also vulnerable to security breaches. Cybersecurity specialists, network security engineers, and network security managers all help organizations conduct risk management and maintain protection against cybersecurity threats.

Network security course curriculum 

Prior knowledge in information technology or cybersecurity may be helpful for learners before diving into courses in network security. A background in math or engineering may be helpful, as well. However, there are plenty of network security courses for learners of all levels.  Some introductory network security tutorials offer a comprehensive overview of basic network security concepts, including understanding security threats, detecting intrusions, network auditing, and contingency planning to keep computer networks safe. Other courses cover topics such as implementing computer networks, how to defend against different types of attacks, and risk management procedures.

Network security jobs

There are a number of jobs related to network security. Earning an online bachelor's degree or an online master's degree may be a good place to start to pursue a career in network security. Some of the different network security careers include:

  • Computer and information systems managers — a profession that incorporates information technology (IT) managers and network security managers — plan, coordinate, and oversee organizations’ computer-related activity. They analyze their organization’s technology needs; protect organizations’ networks and data; oversee IT security staff; and learn about new technology to upgrade the organization’s computer infrastructure. Computer and information systems managers encompass roles including chief information officers (CIOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), IT directors and IT security managers.Footnote 4

  • Cybersecurity specialists are entry-level network security professionals. They help keep networks secure, conduct risk assessments and threat analysis, perform risk management, and help protect organizations’ information using cryptography.Footnote 5

  • Information security analysts and network security analysts implement security measures to protect an organization’s networks and computer systems. They help organizations monitor their networks for security breaches, identify network vulnerabilities, research IT security trends and recommend enhancements, develop security best practices for organizations, and help computer users install and learn about security products and procedures.Footnote 6

  • Network and computer systems administrators oversee the daily operation of organizations’ computer networks. They install hardware and software, troubleshoot problems and make repairs to networks, assess and maintain network security, optimize system performance, and provide technical support to an organization’s computer users.Footnote 7

  • Network security engineers design, optimize, and troubleshoot an organization’s network security systems and help protect an organization against cyber attacks and other threats to information security. They plan and monitor network security systems, identify and address security threats, and protect information and computer systems against natural disasters, hackers, and more.Footnote 8

How to become a network security engineer online

For those wondering how to become a network security engineer through online classes, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer or data science can be a place to start. A master’s degree in data science or a related field may also help job candidates stand out to some employers. 

It can take several years to complete a degree program in computer or data science, and consequently may also take years to become a network security engineer for learners who are new to the network security field. For those looking to enter the profession more quickly, cybersecurity boot camps are shorter, intensive programs designed to teach learners practical knowledge and skills they can apply on the job. Some boot camps enable participants to earn professional certificates in network security.

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