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Cyber Security Base FAQ

Adam Pilkey

30.10.18 4 min. read

Two years ago, F-Secure and the University of Helsinki launched an online course series called Cyber Security Base with F-Secure. It’s a free, massive open online course (MOOC) designed to give people the knowledge and skills they need to begin a career in cyber security.

It’s first year was a huge success. It attracted interest from over 50,000 people from different countries, and nearly 5000 people took part in the course assignments. And since it’s so popular, F-Secure and the University of Helsinki are bringing it back for another year.

Because this is the course series’ third year, we know people have questions. So here’s a quick FAQ. If you have a question that’s not covered here, feel free to submit it as a comment and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. 

Is the course series free?


How many hours of work should I be prepared to put in?

This will vary from person to person. But students should expect to spend 2-10 hours per week on the course.

Are there any prerequisites for registering?

No, there are no formal requirements. But a basic understanding of coding, networks, and cyber security are needed to follow some of the course material. You are of course welcome to register without this background knowledge, but you’ll need to put in extra time learning these things if you want to complete all parts of the course.

How do I register?

You can register for the courses here.

What’s a good language to learn if I don’t have any coding experience?

The course does not require knowledge of one specific language. The materials use Java for examples, but students are free to use whatever language they want to complete assignments.

Generally, Java and Python are both easy for beginners to learn and fairly popular. On the other hand, C/C++ can teach you more about how computers actually work, which can be useful for certain types of programming.

So if you’re learning from scratch, you should consider what kind of work you want to do after the course ends. You can check out this handy infographic for some insight into what different languages are used for by professionals.

Is it possible for me to catch up if I join the course after it begins or miss part of it?

Yes. The course consists of different modules, and they can be taken independently. So if you miss one module or don’t finish it for some reason, you can still take the others.

Can I earn credits toward university degrees?

Students at Finnish universities can receive up to 10 ECTS credits if they complete all parts of the course. These credits can be transferred to schools outside of Finland (students have done so in the past), but this requires a little bit of additional paperwork and approval by the recipient school.

What kind of topics does the MOOC cover?

The MOOC addresses a range of topics that people need to know about to work in cyber security. These topics include

  • introductions to cyber security and operational security
  • web software development, types of vulnerabilities that are typical to web software, how such vulnerabilities are discovered and then mitigated
  • advanced topics such as secure software architectures and cryptography

I want to learn more about cyber security, but I’m not looking to become a cyber security specialist. Will parts of the course still be useful for me?

Yes. Thanks to digitalization, cyber security is an issue that cuts across different industries and professions, so the knowledge and skills people learn in the course can be applied in a wide variety of careers.

What kind of assignments does the course include?

Readings, essays, quizzes, and puzzles are used in different modules. Some modules include projects and programming assignments for students to work on. There will also be a competition where students find and fix vulnerabilities within an allotted amount of time.

The first module, “Introduction to Cyber Security” is already open. And the University of Helisnki will live-stream a kick-off event for the course on November 7th.

You can watch the kick-offs for previous years’ course series here.

Note: An earlier version of this post was published on Oct 3rd, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Susan Heikkinen / University of Helsinki.

Adam Pilkey

30.10.18 4 min. read


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