10 Top Cybersecurity Courses for IT Professionals
Consumption of cybersecurity training continues to rise alongside the increasing value of data — and the threats coming after it.
Security training rose by 59% from 2020 to 2021, according to training data in Percipio, Skillsoft’s training platform. Last year, the same data revealed the top five Skillsoft learning badges all relate to cybersecurity, with the greatest growth in cloud security.
(See the 2021 Lean into Learning Report for the full list of top badges.)
It’s a trend that’s continued for several years, with more IT leadership prioritizing cybersecurity skills and knowledge. The IT Skills and Salary Report in 2021 found the highest percentage of IT decision-makers ranked cybersecurity as their number one priority in the year ahead.
As they build their teams and work to close the widening skills gap, IT leaders and cybersecurity professionals will upskill to harden their defenses, minimize their attack surface, and bring their risk to more manageable (dare we say comfortable) levels.
But what courses are they relying on to grow their skills?
The 10 courses covered in this blog stand out for many reasons. These courses help educate cybersecurity professionals at various points in their careers from early on to when they become a specialist or leader. These courses prepare security professionals for certifications that serve as job requirements or help specialize their skills.
Learning data shows demand for these courses tends to outpace others, due to the breadth of topics covered and the nature of today’s cybersecurity landscape.
It’s worth noting that depending on the area of focus — penetration testing, forensics, etc. — the curriculum will look different. However, these courses can help cybersecurity professionals kick off their careers, advance their skills, and better serve their organizations.
1. Application Security Awareness & Validation
Millions of learners receive Skillsoft badges by completing courses and earning certifications, but when it comes to security training, courses that relate to cloud security saw the greatest hike in consumption in 2021. More than 12.7 million badges were awarded to learners that year.
The badge for completing Application Security Awareness & Validation was the most-earned in 2021, topping the list. (See the top badges of 2021 in the Lean Into Learning report, page 17.)
Meant for advanced security professionals, this course explores what it takes to secure cloud-hosted applications and the training needed to convey its importance. If you plan to take this course, it helps to understand the OWASP list of the 10 most critical security vulnerabilities.
This course covers several topics related to application security, including security testing methodologies, common security issues with cloud-hosted apps, the development lifecycle and more.
2. Secure Application Architecture & IAM
The uptick in cloud security in 2021 popularized courses like this one. Findings from Skillsoft’s training data show the badge earned for completing this course ranked number two on the list of top badges.
In this course, cloud architects go through the layers of a secure application architecture, including security devices, cryptography, and sandboxing. They will learn about identity and access management (IAM) to help ensure authenticated access to services and hosted applications.
Like others on this list, this course is a part of certification training for the CCSP, or Certified Cloud Security Professional. This course is one of 14 courses learners can complete to prepare for exam day.
3. API Security
APIs are integral bridges between software or systems to exchange data. It’s important for those who develop these APIs to maintain the integrity of the data being exchanged, and this course tells why and how.
This intermediate-level course starts with an overview of API security but transitions into how to set up and manage security. It offers instruction on using tools from AWS to manage your APIs and reinforce security, like Cognito and API Gateway.
In 2021, this course ranked third on Skillsoft’s list of top badges, further emphasizing the growing importance of cybersecurity and deeper training in cloud computing.
4. OWASP - Top 10 List Items
In this course, developers learn OWASP’s top 10 critical security vulnerabilities. They learn about each of the 10 vulnerabilities or risks, why they’re important, and what developers can do to tighten security in software.
This is an intermediate-level course, so those who are earlier in their web or software development careers would benefit from starting with the OWASP Overview course.
In 2021, training data shows the OWASP Top 10 List Items badge as the fourth most popular out of the 12.7 million issued.
5. Cloud Security Fundamentals: Cloud Application Security
The more organizations rely on the cloud, the greater the need for application security. Skillsoft training data shows courses like this one increasing in popularity. From 2020 to 2021, cloud training grew 28%. Security training made even greater strides, and with particular emphasis on cloud security.
This course takes learners through how to secure apps in the cloud. It covers everything from applying the secure software development lifecycle (SDLC) and advanced managed services to application security testing.
This course is beginner-friendly. It gives learners a broader training on the principles covered, earning it the number five spot on the list of top badges in 2021.
6. Security Engineering on AWS
Cloud engineers and architects benefit greatly from knowing how to work with top cloud providers like AWS. This course helps learners take their knowledge to the next level.
It focuses on the AWS-recommended best practices proven to enhance the security of your data and systems in the cloud. You will also learn how to leverage AWS services and tools for automation and continuous monitoring.
It’s recommended that learners have experience securing apps in the cloud prior to taking this class. It also helps to have taken the AWS Security Essentials course.
7. Security+ Certification Prep Course
CompTIA’s Security+ certification provides aspiring cybersecurity professionals with broad knowledge to jumpstart their careers. Security+ ranks as an intermediate certification, meaning it’s aimed at those with prior experience in IT and security.
For many reasons, it’s a worthy certification to pursue and often lands cybersecurity professionals a higher salary. (In 2021, it made Global Knowledge’s 15 Top-Paying IT Certifications List.) The Security+ certification complies with the Department of Defense’s 8570 requirements, making this an ideal choice for those who plan to work for the federal government or a government contractor.
This course prepares learners to pass the Security+ exam. It focuses on the five domains that contain the essential knowledge for anyone looking to enter the field: attacks, threats and vulnerabilities; architecture and design; implementation; operations and incident response; and governance, risk and compliance.
8. (ISC)2 CISSP Certification Prep Course
A revered credential, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) often stands as a requirement for senior-level security positions given its rigor and its breadth. Those who pursue this certification must have a minimum of five years of professional experience in IT infrastructure and cybersecurity.
This course takes learners through the eight domains of the CISSP common book of knowledge that they encounter on the exam:
- Security and Risk Management
- Asset Security
- Security Engineering
- Communications and Network Security
- Identity and Access Management
- Security Assessment and Testing
- Security Operations
- Software Development Security
Helpful Advice from the Pros: Certification prep courses can give you a leg up come exam day, but reinforcing that education will help considerably. Take practice exams, use flash cards, and find ways to cement the knowledge.
9. Certified Ethical Hacker (v11)
Learn to think like a hacker and exploit systems’ vulnerabilities ethically and legally. This course takes learners through the ethical hacking methodologies, teaching them how to apply these principles and fortify a system’s security. It’s also a preparatory course for the certification exam and requires at least two years of experience in IT security.
In cybersecurity, experience goes a long way toward preventing and minimizing breaches. Learners value courses like these for the simulations, labs and seemingly real security scenarios. It provides hands-on experience with several hacking tools and provides experiences for learners to train in a meaningful way.
It's best suited for those specializing in penetration testing, but also applies directly to the responsibilities of auditors and site or network administrators.
10. Cybersecurity Foundations
Everyone must have a working knowledge of the cybersecurity field, and this course provides the fundamental education that all should have today.
Broad in nature, it defines cybersecurity, its role within IT and one’s organization, and why it matters to anyone working or interacting with data of any kind (a.k.a., everyone).
General awareness training can help employees understand their role in securing data and how their actions impact risk. It relates the highly technical, often complex field of cybersecurity back to their daily work and lives.
Every CISO Needs a Training Strategy to Create Lasting Change
From non-profits to the enterprise companies, every organization must safeguard its data. They must enact plans to mitigate threats and minimize breaches.
However, those in security leadership know these challenges well. It’s not just warding off bad actors. It’s also appealing to the rest of the organization. Securing data means cybersecurity professionals must also rely on others to hold the line.
This strategy starts with an effective, inclusion training plan that leads to meaningful impact. Forrester released a four-step strategy that CISOs can follow to lead a security training program that creates the lasting impact they would hope for and expect.
Rather than create panic, this strategy focuses empowerment to develop a cyber-aware workforce. Gain access to Forrester’s report, “How to Mitigate the Human Risk in Cybersecurity,” to learn more.