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MIT Cybersecurity Course: Equipping Professionals with Real-World Career Relevant Knowledge

Hear What Alumni from MIT’s Latest Cybersecurity Course Have to Say

Cybersecurity professionals know how important it is to stay on top of the latest technologies to protect against cybersecurity attacks. Many have given serious thought to the idea of taking an online course to gain new skills and knowledge, but questioned whether it would actually pay off. But positive feedback from MIT Professional Education’s latest online cybersecurity course suggests the return on investment for ongoing education is far-reaching and has benefits that go well beyond the obvious.

MIT’s Cybersecurity: Technology, Application and Policy course is a six-week, online course aimed at providing IT and IT security practitioners with a broad foundation in cybersecurity technologies, techniques and systems. To date, more than 2,500 engineers, technical managers and entrepreneurs have taken the course. When asked what impact the new knowledge would have on their organizations, teams or programs – the most recent alumni say the benefits are many, and some unexpected.


Patrick Tagtow, an executive in the legal department of BMC Software, completed the course last Fall, along with several of his colleagues. He said it not only provided a more comprehensive view of issues and solutions in cybersecurity, but knowledge that “helped put real-life issues into context and allowed him to form policy around mitigation and remediation.”

Public policy and organization management are two key components of the course. MIT knows that in order to move away from the current “patch and pray” approach to cybersecurity toward security by default, where attacks are managed in a proactive way, professionals will need to revise existing security policies. In online surveys, many recent course enrollees acknowledged the course would help them write tighter security policies, leading to better more secure systems. Others noted that cybersecurity would now be top of mind as they discussed future, strategies and protocols.

For others, it was the case studies that stood out.

Real-life examples are sprinkled throughout the course to help illustrate the impact of emerging technologies and explore policy implications in the field. For example, students examine Bitlocker and using the Trusted platform, build a disk encryption system with passwords, removable devices and trusted hardware methods. There’s also a case study on mobile security that looks back at Android’s development: What worked? What didn’t work? What changes have been made to overcome challenges?

“My favorite section was mobile phone security,” said Michael Nassirian, who has worked in industry for more than 30 years. “I’m very concerned about the internet and mobile since these are the areas we’re vulnerable the most.”

“I really enjoyed the case studies and learning about the practical applications of cybersecurity and cryptography,” said Hanno Ekdahl, another enrollee. “It was a nice way to demonstrate the theory in practice and it also exposed the complexity of creating an architecture that is future proof. As technologies and features evolve, security has to evolve with it.”

The world-renowned MIT Faculty and cybersecurity experts from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) couldn’t agree more. In fact, building computer systems that can’t be hacked is the focus of cutting-edge research included in the course. Instructors offer a historical view of the cybersecurity challenge, exploring the way in which we architect computer systems, and how it is possible to re-engineer these systems to remove entire classes of vulnerabilities at a time.

“This course is an eye-opener for software architects, developers, CTOs/CIOs,” said Nagarjuna Boddu. “The exposure helped me understand real threats and how deep one has to design a system to be reasonably fool proof. I am going the use knowledge from this course to influence development and quality assurance teams in an effort to improve security of software at the design, code and testing level.”

The course offers a one of a kind learning experience by delivering a holistic, comprehensive view of cybersecurity. In all, there are a total of five modules covering 14 topic areas – with more than 12 hours of in-depth video presentations. And the numerous enrollees from multiple industries and with different job functions say they plan to use the new knowledge they gained in a variety of ways.

One professional who works in the financial industry said investing in ongoing education was part of his plan to become an IT director, and that the course is already having an impact on his career because he is working on projects and new infrastructure proposals for a bank.

Another said she comes across security issues almost daily in her job as a manager of a technology company, and that the course has provided her with a better understanding of possible threats, which will enable her to make faster, more informed decisions on the job.

Stephanie Gulbransenm, director of sales at SparkCognition said, “The ability to explain how these technologies can help solve business problems will ultimately help increase sales and revenues for my company.” She sells artificial intelligence and cybersecurity applications to businesses.

Whether it’s about improving career prospects, learning new techniques that can be applied to products currently in development, expanding knowledge to improve research or broadening awareness to develop better, more comprehensive security policies – professionals have walked away from the course with practical strategies they can put to immediate use.

Any technical professional or business leader who has experienced a security breach knows just how devastating it can be. MIT Professional Education is committed to helping organizations protect against attacks by enabling professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to develop, implement and enhance cybersecurity solutions. That’s why some of the top security experts around the world are enrolling in MIT Professional Education’s Cybersecurity: Technology, Application and Policy course.

The next session begins March 14. Register now and use the code edx10 to save 10%.