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Cyber skills for every level

If you’ve had your information stolen or compromised online recently, you’re not alone. A survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted by software company Norton found that one in four respondents had fallen victim to an online scam in the previous 12 months. Protecting private information can be a challenge for many industries, including technology.

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Cybersecurity professionals can help mitigate potential risks by setting up safety protocols and infrastructure. They might work in-house for an organization, or they may offer their services as a freelance consultant once they have built up enough experience.

Are you curious about starting or advancing a cybersecurity career? Whether you’re interested in gaining basic skills for an entry-level position or adding to your existing skill set and taking the next step in your career, edX has courses that can help you reach your goals.

Introductory cyber skills for entry-level roles

As an aspiring cybersecurity professional, you’re probably curious about entry-level cyber roles. You may even be wondering just how much responsibility you might be faced with when you do start working. Rest assured, as an entry-level cybersecurity pro, it’s more likely that you will be fulfilling low-level tasks and learning from senior team members.

Having some experience with basic cybersecurity concepts and methods can be helpful when applying for your first cybersecurity job. While each role will have its own requirements, some general skills apply across the board.

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Confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA triad)

According to the Center for Internet Security , these are considered the most important concepts in cybersecurity. Confidentiality limits access to data, integrity ensures trustworthy and accurate information, and availability makes that information accessible to the right people. Keeping these three things in mind can help guide organizations when developing a security strategy.

Threat and vulnerability assessment

A Statista survey of 1,200 IT professionals ranked malware, phishing, and ransomware among the top five types of cybersecurity threats to both individuals and organizations. Understanding how hackers and malicious actors exploit system vulnerabilities can help you set up a first line of defense against common threats.

Network security

In simple terms, a network is created when two or more computers are linked together. They may be connected as a means of sharing resources or communicating electronically. As an entry-level cybersecurity professional, you should be familiar with various network security protocols and different ways to prevent a cyber attack. Explore network security courses on edX.

Incident response

What happens when a breach is detected? That’s up to the cybersecurity team. Developing an incident response plan for different types of threats is a critical step in any cybersecurity strategy. These plans don’t just outline how to contain damage and minimize its effects, they also provide instructions for reducing the possibility of future incidents.

Risk assessment and management

You can’t prepare for risks you’re not aware of. This is true in any context, but it’s especially important in cybersecurity. Even though every organization will face unique risks, it’s important to be able to conduct an accurate assessment of the potential issues that could arise based on current system capabilities and protections. Explore risk management courses on edX.


Cybersecurity professionals are often responsible for protecting highly sensitive information. In order to ensure that they are handling data properly, they should understand the legal and regulatory requirements relevant to their industry. This helps organizations avoid incurring fines, penalties, and even legal action.

Ethical considerations

Unlike legal requirements, which are clearly defined and communicated, ethical considerations can be harder to navigate. Before you implement any new changes or try new cybersecurity approaches, assess their ethical implications. Concepts like data integrity, user consent, and data ownership also fall under important ethical considerations. Explore ethics courses on edX.

Start your educational journey with beginner-level cybersecurity courses on edX. Explore a variety of learning options that fit your lifestyle and goals.

Intermediate cyber skills for mid-level roles

Do you want to progress from an entry-level to a mid-level cybersecurity role? Have you identified gaps in your skill set that may be holding you back in your existing mid-level role? If you’re in this stage of your cyber career, you’ve built a solid foundation and gained relevant industry experience. You might even have a certification or two under your belt.

As you become more familiar with the world of cybersecurity, you can start building on your foundation. Core competencies for mid-level cybersecurity professionals may vary by title, but they do have general skills in common.

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Scripting and automation

Some cybersecurity tasks, such as scanning networks for weaknesses, can be automated. This can free up your time to work on more complex tasks, which can help you further advance your career. Boost your efficiency by gaining familiarity with scripting languages like Python, Ruby, Perl, and JavaScript. Explore courses that cover scripting languages on edX.

Knowledge of operating systems

Different computers are managed by different operating systems, such as macOS, Windows, and Linux. Each system has its own cybersecurity protocols, commands, and protections. In order to effectively protect all devices on any network, you should understand their various security configurations, privilege management approaches, and hardening techniques. Learn about operating systems with edX courses.

Penetration testing

A penetration test (pen test) is an authorized, simulated attack on a system or network. The goal of the attack is to uncover weaknesses that could potentially be exploited by hackers. Cybersecurity professionals use a variety of tools, techniques, and methodologies to conduct pen tests. The more you know, the more marketable your skill set. Learn penetration testing on edX.

Security analysis

As you become versed in different methods and techniques, you can apply your skills to security analysis activities. This can help you respond to incidents more effectively and practice critical thinking. Look for classes that cover topics like security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, incident detection, and forensics.

Access management

Some account types are more vulnerable than others. For instance, you may be able to recover from a breach in your Words With Friends app, but not so easily when it happens to your online bank account. Learning how to manage various security levels enables you to determine when to use single sign-on (SSO), role-based access control (RBAC), or multi-factor authentication (MFA).


Encryption translates straightforward data into what is called a ciphertext. When data is encrypted, it is less likely to be intercepted and accessed by unauthorized users. The only way to revert the ciphertext back to plaintext is with a decryption key. Using ciphers and cryptography enhances the protection of sensitive information, even if it falls into the wrong hands. Explore cryptography courses on edX.

Knowledge of security frameworks

A cybersecurity framework is a set of guidelines and best practices that help businesses improve their security posture. Organizations like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Center for Internet Security (CIS), and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have developed frameworks that offer varying levels of flexibility and formatting.

Take the next step in your career. Explore intermediate cybersecurity courses on edX and gain the confidence and skills you need to succeed in your current role or advance to a new one.

Advanced cyber skills for senior-level roles

Reaching an advanced level of cybersecurity experience doesn’t happen overnight. It comes with years of work and mastery of the skills listed above, among others. In addition to technical abilities, senior-level cybersecurity professionals must also be able to communicate and delegate effectively, as they often hold leadership or consulting roles.

Shaping an organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy and direction means understanding the various factors that contribute to a secure network environment. Regardless of the exact job title, you’ll need to bring high-value skills to the table.

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Security architecture and design

When you sit at the helm of your cybersecurity team, you can use your expertise to evaluate whether current cybersecurity strategies align with current and future business objectives. Your ability to design and implement complex architectures can directly contribute to a stronger security posture for your organization.

Security policy development

As a senior-level cybersecurity pro, you may at some point be tasked with developing or changing organizational security policies. These are written documents that outline the full behavioral and technical guidelines that all employees should follow. In order to craft an effective policy, you should be well-versed in the types of data your company produces and how to protect them.

Security research

A 2023 CompTIA article on cybersecurity predictions emphasized hackers’ persistence in exploiting system vulnerabilities. Just like cybersecurity teams work every day to strengthen their systems, hackers work just as hard. Staying up to date on trends can help you build stronger defenses and better manage breaches when they do happen. Learn research methods with edX courses.

Team management

As a senior-level cyber pro, you’re not just responsible for your organization’s overall security, you’re also expected to lead a team of less experienced individuals. Leadership skills, such as communication, problem solving, delegation, and providing feedback, are crucial to your team’s long-term success.

Cloud security

Cloud storage can save companies time and money while allowing for convenient file sharing. But just like on-site data storage, cloud networks also need proper protection. While third-party cloud providers typically follow industry best practices, it’s important to make your own considerations.

Regulatory expertise

Having a grasp of requirements and regulations is helpful for cybersecurity professionals at every level. Before you reach a senior position, you may be expected to deepen your knowledge or even learn about an entirely new industry. Compliance is especially important in highly regulated fields like healthcare and finance.


Cybersecurity certifications serve as tangible evidence of your knowledge, skills, and expertise. If you want to set yourself apart from other cyber professionals, consider pursuing credentials such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), or Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

Soar to new professional heights with online courses. edX offers advanced cybersecurity education that can help you reach the top of the career ladder—or stay there.

Take your career to the next level with edX

If you’re determined to start or advance your career in cybersecurity, edX courses can provide you with a path for professional growth.

Whether you’re popping into a few classes to brush up on existing skills or pursuing a full degree, you’ll gain access to mentorship and career guidance. Connect with alumni, uncover career trends, and learn important skills for identifying new opportunities.

Continuous learning is always an important part of professional development. Start or continue your cybersecurity journey on edX.