Course Overview

Units at a glance

Are you safe in your own home? There may be locks on the doors, other people around, possibly an alarm in the house, and yet, it’s possible for an intruder to enter your home without even touching the front door. How? Through the window? No, it’s much easier than that. The moment you jump on the internet, anyone can try to infiltrate your private life through the glowing portal of your computer screen. In this brave new world of cyber reality, it is increasingly important to learn the ins and outs of protecting yourself online.

Even though it’s a major part of modern life, the internet is still a rather new invention. And, like any emerging innovation, it has weak points. Recognizing these vulnerabilities is important because it gives us, as users, the power to see the dangers to watch out for in cyberspace. How can we protect ourselves from threats while still enjoying the endless benefits of the web? Once we are able to identify and respond to the shortcomings of the internet, we bring ourselves that much closer to improving and maintaining one of the most valuable resources in the world.

Recognizing online threats is one thing, but understanding the winding, complicated ways that hackers access private information is another thing entirely. Much like the weapons, battles, and tactics of war, cyberattacks are made up of many strategies and are never exactly alike. Learning more about how malicious actors craft methods for invasion can be fascinating, and it can also help you find more safety online by knowing what to look for and, more importantly, what to trust. In order to beat the enemy, otherwise known as hackers, you will need to understand the game, and the first step is to take the dark journey through the underbelly of the internet, where things are not always what they seem. Are you ready?

Would you ever walk into a store and start breaking things just to see what happens? What about stealing something just to see if you get caught? The reasons you give for why you would or would not do such things are a part of your ethics, or sense of right and wrong. Similarly, whenever you log on to a computer, pick up your smartphone, or access a website, you must also use good judgment. It’s supremely important to behave online the same way you would in real life — with integrity, honesty, and a regard for the law. Because our online presence can feel less “observable” by those around us, it is easier to believe the grey area for pushing legal boundaries has changed, but it hasn’t. You may be surprised to learn just how many of your clicks, keystrokes, and online movements are tracked. In that way, it’s important to fully understand how you can navigate and enjoy the internet while still keeping yourself safe in every way.

Our personal computers, tablets, and smartphones offer different user options, but they all have one thing in common: operating systems. Since an operating system helps make everything on your device run, it would be pretty terrible if it was compromised. Understanding how our operating systems govern what our technology can do is an important part of being a savvy user and is crucial to cybersecurity. Being a well-protected online adventurer demands more than just basic knowledge of a computer; we also need to know something about the strengths and vulnerabilities of the internal computer components on all our devices.

When people “network,” they come together to share information and stay connected. You can have a network of friends or a network of ideas. Computers are much the same way—they must also join together for the purpose of sharing resources and communication. While this can include anything from a printer to a file server, the most valued and popular resource today that connects us all is the internet. Once we begin to understand how a network really functions and what it can do, we begin to understand the vast, complicated world of cybersecurity more clearly. Sharing ideas, images, and resources is what makes the world go around, and networks create the backbone of this new reality. As we move forward into the future of technology security, protecting our computer networks and developing them in innovative ways will be one of the most important challenges we face.

Some people might say we already have all the tools we will ever need to protect ourselves from cyberattacks; all we need to do is look at the real world around us. Humans have been in conflict since the beginning of time, and technology’s new world of virtual warfare is just an extension of this conflict to a new battlefield. Just as our weapons arsenal has expanded over thousands of years from clubs and arrows to machine guns and bombs, the practices of cybersecurity are in the midst of a mighty evolution. Understanding how a network provides the backbone for communication is just one step in visualizing how we can protect the vitality of our online platforms. From application security to firewalls, guardianship of our virtual world is no small task. But if the defenses of the real world are any indication of our ability to protect ourselves, there’s always a way a stay ahead of any threat. We just have to learn how.

One of the biggest vulnerabilities in technology today is access. If an online attacker is able to find just the right code, password, or tactic to gain passage through certain obstacles, the treasure of personal data is ripe for the taking. In this way, access is the prized gateway and the main objective of any savvy cybercriminal. And as a result, it is also a security point that requires a great deal of attention and support. Understanding how data can be accessed (and what can be done about it) is an important piece in a thorough approach to cybersecurity. Doors of entry and the locks that protect them — in both the real world and online — come in all shapes and sizes, and in that way, properly safeguarding them demands full knowledge of how they work.

Data has undergone some big changes in recent years and now faces a whole new world of threats and dangers. But there have also been developments in innovative and impressive strategies for moving data securely over networks, undetected and totally protected. By examining the channels through which our private information moves — and how it effectively hides itself — we will begin to discover even more about the art of keeping it safe.

No one really thinks about a crisis until it happens. And when it does, being prepared and supported become the most important things. Similarly, when our personal devices, privacy, and information are attacked, finding the best way to recover and move on is the only thing that matters. How we respond, investigate, and use science to accomplish these goals becomes valuable to our livelihood. By learning how to best handle a breach in security, we can begin to see more about our general vulnerabilities and how we — and the world of law enforcement — can continually work to improve our systems and our security.

In the world of cybersecurity, the demand for talented and dedicated people never stops. Most experts agree this emerging field is not only an exciting and robust one, but it may just be the single most important industry to arise in our nation since the Industrial Revolution. Now that’s a big deal! And with this assertion comes all sorts of new ideas about how to launch a cyber career. Not only are the positions plentiful, but they offer a large degree of financial security and the chance to make a real difference in the safety of the nation, its people, and its technology.

No matter how much you know about cybersecurity and the ins and outs of exploits and threats, the most important thing to take away from this course is how to keep yourself — both your data and your person — safe in the technological world. Your privacy and safe passage through the internet is a right, and you should always remain aware of how those things can be compromised and abused by outside forces. Developing a solid understanding of how online security works (and all the ways it can affect you) is truly the best way to stay on the right side of the internet.

Course Highlights

Learn the vulnerabilities and safeguards built into your computer hardware.
Think more analytically about all the personal information you voluntarily release as part of your digital footprint.
Consider the many possible careers related to cybersecurity and data management.
Discover the types of possible cyber attacks your devices might already be vulnerable to.

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