Best Cyber Security Courses & Certifications (2024)

In FinTech by Gaurav SharmaUpdated On:

Cyber security is one of the fastest growing niches within FinTech. In a 2020 survey, CEOs ranked it as their #1 concern, which is why a lot resources are being poured into the field. I have written quite extensively on cyber security topics and you can find some of those blogs linked in my profile.

However, the demand for cyber security professionals is far outpacing the supply. This has led to a healthy growth in salaries across the broad. If you are interested in a career in cyber security, you can read this article to get an understanding of the career prospects in the field.

Cyber security professionals require a specialised skillset and a unique understanding of the rapidly evolving risks that their clients or employers face. In order to bridge this gap, universities have released a number of very high quality cyber security courses and I have analysed and ranked the best ones for you here.

What to look for in a cyber security course?

Excellent Brand value to maximize CV value. These are the world’s top universities and course provides and having one of their certifications on your CV will itself give you a boost and a likely shortlist advantage.

Exceptional course content, especially the focus practical aspects. Recruiters want candidates who can hit the ground running on Day 1.

One size may NOT fit all which is why each of these courses is recommended for a specific audience only. For example, non-technical managers would have a different requirement from a cyber security course compared to a developer. Read my summary to find the one suitable for you.

1. Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age from Harvard

Course Review

Harvard has one of the better cybersecurity faculties and programs out there and this program highlights that. This is a great brand building opportunity as well, especially for mid to senior level executives.

This is an executive focused programs which is recommended for team leaders, executives and even business owners who have to make strategic decisions about their businesses on a daily basis. Cybersecurity is not just an “IT thing” anymore. It is now a component of how you do business. CEOs and business leaders have to think about the cybersecurity implications of each business decision and this course drives home that point like none other.

There is a fair bit focus on the technical areas like the most common types of attacks, what is targeted, what the most vulnerabilities are, how to protect networks and systems, how to maintain data integrity etc. Risk management also gets due focus as senior managers have to think about not just the technical aspects of cybersecurity but its business, financial and reputational aspects as well.

Click here and use code GS-AF-BBD15 for a 15% discount on this course!


Duration8 weeks, about 8-10 hours a week.
FormatFully online, on-demand

2. Introduction to Cybersecurity from Udacity

Course Review

Udacity courses are designed from the perspective of actual industry practice and not just academic theory. That is what I like best about them. This course is no exception and will get you ready to hit the ground running.

You start by looking at basic security fundamentals, concepts and techniques including possible attack vectors, high-risk targets, best practices, critical security controls, core principles, defense in depth concepts, network vulnerabilities, mitigation techniques, encryption and so on. This provides you with a solid foundation to build on.

The focus then shifts to defending and securing systems, threat analysis, exploits,  indent response, and lastly governance and compliance. GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) is a big part of what I do for my corporate clients and it is something that you need to learn if you want to be taken seriously.  You will be spending months on these topics and I don’t think any course is this comprehensive when it comes to on-the-ground learning.

Udacity also provides value added services like access to a technical mentor, resume and online professional profile reviews and real-world projects. This is not just a bunch of online videos being marketed as a course, this is Nanodegree program and they treat it as such. You will get value added services to ensure you start your career at the level that is appropriate to your skill level.

Click here to generate your personalized discount for this course!


  • Time to Complete: Should take around 4 months.
  • Available fully online and on demand via Udacity. Offers plenty of value added services to learners.
  • A complete cyber security course that is the closest you’ll get to on-the-ground work experience.
  • The fastest and most efficient way of getting started in cyber security.

3. Introduction to Cyber Security from New York University

Course Review

The first part of the course is focused on cyber-attacks and defense strategies. Despite having a computer engineering background, there is a lot of new stuff that I saw here. The game has been constantly changing and there are new threats and new methods that you need to learn to blunt those attacks.

I also liked the next section which is focused on real-time threats. This is a major focus of banks and financial institutions as they have to process millions of transactions each minute and real-time protection is all but necessary now.

The last section of the course is all about enterprise level security strategies. As a cyber security analyst, you will spend a lot of time on devising strategies and plans and this section really helps with that.

The course is being offered by the Tandon School of Engineering (NYU) This is quite a brand to have on your resume and will likely make it easier for you to stand out in a crowd especially if you lack any relevant work experience. It is hard to get started without any work  ex and courses like these from reputable institutions help offset that disadvantage to an extent.

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  • Time to Complete: Should take around 80 hours for most people.
  • Available fully online and on demand via Coursera.
  • It’s also being offered by an Engineering School which means you can expect it to be as technical as necessary.

4. Professional Certificate in Essentials of Cybersecurity from the University of Washington

Course Review

This is the best introductory course to cyber security for those who have yet to start their journey. Not only does it provide a comprehensive look at the industry, it also introduces you to all the players like the threat actors, regulators, international agencies and their motivations and roles. There is also a section devoted to all the tools of the trade that are employed in cyber security.

A strategic bird’s eye view from the position of the Chief Information Security Officer is also something that I found to be unique to this course. Having a strategic understanding of issues is something that can really add value and make an employee stand apart from others. If you can figure out what’s going on in your boss’ head, then that’s just more power to you!

The best part about this course is that it lets you explore 30+ career paths in cyber security and helps you pick one based on your interest and skills. That can give you quite a head start and save you from running towards a dead-end in the first few years of your career.

This is another good opportunity to get a strong brand on your Resume. That will likely help your chances of a shortlist and distinguish you somewhat from the hundreds of other candidates vying for the same role. Which is one reason why I only list the most prestigious universities and course providers in my lists.

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  • Time to Complete: Should take about 35-45 hours for most people.
  • Available fully online via edX – a non-profit formed by Harvard and MIT.
  • This course is all about helping you figure out where to start in cyber security and how.

5. Cyber Security for Business Specialization from the University of Colorado

Course Review

This is a good introductory course which I would recommend for management so that they can speak the same language as their cyber security personnel. The onus on preventing cyber security attacks is not just on the technical personnel but on the entire organisations which is why everyone needs to take this course!

This course is geared towards businesses to help them better understand the threats that they face (like data breaches), where the attacks might come from and how to better protect themselves. This provides a practical look into how things play out int he event of a breach and what is expected of everyone in such a scenario.

There is also a section that helps business to prepare against the most prevalent cyber threats and I believe that has great practical value for any leaner. Proactive measures like deception, penetration testing, security planning and implementation are discussed culminating in a live test to see how well you fare.

This is one of those highly useful courses that I feel should be made mandatory for all employees to take.  Its fun, its practical, its highly relevant and it’s something that might just save your company a tonne of headache.

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  • Time to Complete: Should take around 40 hours for most people.
  • Available fully online and on demand via Coursera.
  • Well suited for non-technical mangers at large corporations and even small business owners.

6. MicroMasters® Program in Cybersecurity from the Rochester Institute of Technology

Course Review

This is a very comprehensive course that goes well beyond the fundamentals. In fact, it’s closer to a graduate level course in terms of the sheer amount of content covered. You learn everything from computer forensics and risk management to intrusion detection, network security and contingency planning.

There is a 2-month capstone project That you have to complete at the end. Which means that you’ll get really close to some on-the-ground type experience. Such projects are great because they give you the opportunity to steer the conversation towards something that you know well during the interview process.

Its an instructor-led course with assignments and exams that have specific due dates. The fact that you really have to earn this certificate only adds to its appeal to potential employers.

This is more than a course and closer to a full time degree in terms of commitment required. However, for those who are really interested in cyber security, this is probably the best online opportunity to get a proper academic experience.

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  • Time to Complete: 10 months
  • Available fully online via edX – a non-profit formed by Harvard and MIT.
  • A comprehensive cyber security course that packs as much information as full time coursework.

7. IT Fundamentals for Cyber Security Specialization from IBM

Course Review

This course has been created by IBM Engineers, architects and SOC (Security Operation Center) analysts. This is the real deal. Completing it also makes you eligible for earning a digital badge from IBM. Additional personal branding opportunities are always nice.

The course covers most technical aspects that you will need on the job like cyber security tools, cyber attacks, roles, processes, compliance, network security, database security, among others.

This is an applied learning project meaning you will learn about challenges and threats that IBM professionals have faced in the real world. This practical aspect to it, along with IBM’s cast experience in cyber consulting, adds to the appeal of the course.

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  • Time to Complete: Should take around 48 hours for most people.
  • Available fully online and on demand via Coursera.

8. Cyber Security Specialization from the University of Maryland

Course Review

This is slightly more advanced course than the others on this list and it gets right to the point with a focus on usable security, cryptography and hardware security.

Having an entire section on hardware security is something I was happy to see. I have covered things like Hardware Security Modules extensively over my career and its good to see hardware get the attention it deserves when it comes to cyber security.

This is also a course created by cybersecurity academics and computer engineers so the technical aspects are well taken care of.

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  • Time to Complete: Should take around 64 hours for most people.
  • Available fully online and on demand via Coursera.

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About the Author

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav (LinkedIn) started his finance career as an intern in Citi’s Institutional Clients Group in 2009, eventually ending up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Corporate & Institutional Banking division a few years later. By 2016, he was an independent consultant helping FinTech start-ups in London with product development and launch. Gaurav also helps banks with their digital banking initiatives and advises PE & VC firms with investments in the financial services and FinTech sectors. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from EU banking regulations and tradional finance to Blockchain startups and the future of banking itself! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.