Network cybersecurity covers a wide variety of methods for securing the digital transmission of sensitive data. Network cybersecurity courses naturally lend themselves to distance-learning environments, as the curriculum centers on inter-network communication and data transmission. Courses sometimes only provide test preparation for various industry credentials, such as the CompTIA Network+ or Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP), but at other times culminate in certificates or associate's degrees. Some online bachelor's programs can include limited instruction on security.
While many programs can be completed totally online, some network security programs require students to complete certain courses on campus and/or take exams in a proctored setting. Schools may also require students to complete an internship or a practicum prior to graduation.
Cybersecurity Certificate Program
Cybersecurity certificate programs usually emphasize curricula developed by leading industry experts or networking groups, such as Cisco Systems or the Certified Information Security Specialist Program. Online programs typically have students arrange a cybersecurity practicum or cooperative opportunity to augment the distance-learning objectives with hands-on experience. Certificate programs usually take around a year to complete.
Students in online courses access assignments and lectures, in addition to interacting with peers and instructors, in a virtual classroom environment. They may take part in group projects or class discussions using collaboration tools, message boards or chat rooms. Common courses in these programs may include:
Topical courses on network cybersecurity usually cover firewalls and intrusion protection systems from a theoretical perspective, with little hands-on training in their setup. These distance-learning courses are usually most useful to network administrators and other IT professionals in gaining an overview of cybersecurity practices.
Cryptography and Network Security
These courses delve deeper into the number theory and practice of cybersecurity algorithms within networks. Courses can often be vendor specific, covering technologies such a RAS (Microsoft), PGP and more. Delivered via bulletin board technologies such as Blackboard, students will also learn about general endpoint cybersecurity standards such as IPSec, TLS, SSL and more.
Associate's in Computer Information Systems
Though broad in nature, many online associate's degree programs include one or more classes emphasizing network cybersecurity; many will even have a security emphasis. Courses include information assurance, firewall setup and wireless network security. Students in associate's degree programs must complete general education coursework along with their major courses. These degrees can typically be earned in about two years with full-time study.
Many distance-learning program are geared towards one of many different industry certifications. Some of the more popular credentials in network cybersecurity include:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP)
- CompTIA Network+ Certification
- Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)
Whether offered by a professional organization or a postsecondary institution, online certificate programs that cover network cybersecurity are usually highly specific, focusing on a particular software package or skill set. Online associate's degree programs cover a wider range of information technology topics as well as providing general education in the field.