Free Online Cybersecurity Course Aims to Help People Protect Their Information

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As online services store more and more personal data, whether it’s for completing purchases or for holding photos and videos, there’s a clear need for people to understand what they can do to make sure their personal data is not accessed without their knowledge and consent.

With this in mind, a new free cybersecurity course from The Open University called “Introduction to Cyber Security” starts October 13 and runs for eight weeks, and is designed to teach internet users how to use privacy technologies and good security practices.

Hosted by writer and online activist Cory Doctorow, the course promises to teach the fundamentals of cryptography, information security, and privacy. The emphasis is on providing practical knowledge on how to protect against government surveillance and identity theft, as well as from voyeurs looking to steal to invade privacy and steal private files.

A recent example of stolen personal data was last weekend when private photos of dozens of female celebrities were stolen from private iCloud accounts and released to the public. It appears that individual users had their iCloud accounts compromised. Apple has said that the accounts were not compromised due to a breach of its security systems.

While this places the blame on the individuals whose accounts were compromised, the mere number of accounts that were broken into illustrates how difficult it is to keep accounts safe. And the lack of knowledge of how to keep accounts safe is an underlying problem that affects the security of all kinds cloud services.

Doctorow’s security course will help people inform themselves on how to use online services securely. But for those building online services there are also other free courses such as “Usable Security”, a course led by the University of Maryland’s Jennifer Golbeck, designed to help build secure systems with a human-centric focus.

In order for online services to rebuild trust in the eyes of the public, they need to provide information and training, and even let customers know what security threats they pose to themselves.

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