3 credit/unit hours – Three hours of lecture weekly; one term

The course introduces the learner to entry-level cybersecurity concepts and topics, including security principles, network security and endpoint security, vulnerability assessment, risk management, and incident handling. This course also helps prepare students for the Cisco Certified Support Technician (CCST) Cybersecurity exam.

Updated: May 23, 2023

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course the learner will be able to:

  • Describe why cybersecurity is essential in today’s IT environment;
  • Define essential security principles;
  • Describe common security threats and their ramifications;
  • Implement various network security controls (e.g., access technologies);
  • Differentiate cryptographic concepts (e.g., encryption, decryption, hashing, Public Key Infrastructure, etc.);
  • Configure endpoint security solutions.
  • Discuss vulnerability management;
  • Differentiate between physical security, disaster recovery, and business continuity;
  • Monitor security events;
  • Setup a Small Office Home Office (SoHo) wireless network;
  • Utilize network diagrams; and
  • Demonstrate appropriate and ethical behavior and good work habits.

Main Topics

1. Essential Security Principles

1.1 Define essential security principles: Vulnerabilities, threats, exploits, and risks; attack vectors; hardening; defense-in-depth; confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA); types of attackers; reasons for attacks; code of ethics.

1.2. Explain common threats and vulnerabilities: Malware, ransomware, denial of service, botnets, social engineering attacks (tailgating, spear phishing, phishing, vishing, smishing, etc.), physical attacks, man in the middle, IoT vulnerabilities, insider threats, Advanced Persistent Threat (APT).

1.3. Explain access management principles: Authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA); RADIUS; multifactor authentication (MFA); password policies.

1.4. Explain encryption methods and applications: Types of encryption, hashing, certificates, public key infrastructure (PKI); strong vs. weak encryption algorithms; states of data and appropriate encryption (data in transit, data at rest, data in use); protocols that use encryption.

2. Basic Network Security Concepts

2.1. Describe TCP/IP protocol vulnerabilities: TCP, UDP, HTTP, ARP, ICMP, DHCP, DNS.

2.2. Explain how network addresses impact network security: IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, MAC addresses, network segmentation, CIDR notation, NAT, public vs. private networks.

2.3. Describe network infrastructure and technologies: Network security architecture, DMZ, virtualization, cloud, honeypot, proxy server, IDS, IPS.

2.4. Set up a secure wireless SoHo network: MAC address filtering, encryption standards and protocols, SSID.

2.5. Implement secure access technologies: ACL, firewall, VPN, NAC.

3. Endpoint Security Concepts

3.1. Describe operating system security concepts: Windows, macOS, and Linux; security features, including Windows Defender and host-based firewalls; CLI and PowerShell; file and directory permissions; privilege escalation.

3.2. Demonstrate familiarity with appropriate endpoint tools that gather security assessment information: netstat, nslookup, tcpdump.

3.3. Verify that endpoint systems meet security policies and standards: Hardware inventory (asset management), software inventory, program deployment, data backups, regulatory compliance (PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR), BYOD (device management, data encryption, app distribution, configuration management).

3.4. Implement software and hardware updates: Windows Update, application updates, device drivers, firmware, patching.

3.5. Interpret system logs: Event Viewer, audit logs, system and application logs, syslog, identification of anomalies.

3.6. Demonstrate familiarity with malware removal: Scanning systems, reviewing scan logs, malware remediation.

4. Vulnerability Assessment and Risk Management

4.1. Explain vulnerability management: Vulnerability identification, management, and mitigation; active and passive reconnaissance; testing (port scanning, automation).

4.2. Use threat intelligence techniques to identify potential network vulnerabilities: Uses and limitations of vulnerability databases; industry-standard tools used to assess vulnerabilities and make recommendations, policies, and reports; Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs), cybersecurity reports, cybersecurity  news, subscription services, and collective intelligence; ad hoc and automated threat intelligence; the importance of updating documentation and other forms of communication proactively before, during, and after cybersecurity incidents; how to secure, share and update documentation.

4.3. Explain risk management: Vulnerability vs. risk, ranking risks, approaches to risk management, risk mitigation strategies, levels of risk (low, medium, high, extremely high), risks associated with specific types of data and data classifications, security assessments of IT systems (information security, change management, computer operations, information assurance).

4.4. Explain the importance of disaster recovery and business continuity planning: Natural and human-caused disasters, features of disaster recovery plans (DRP) and business continuity plans (BCP), backup, disaster recovery controls (detective, preventive, and corrective).

5. Incident Handling

5.1. Monitor security events and know when escalation is required: Role of SIEM and SOAR, monitoring network data to identify security incidents (packet captures, various log file entries, etc.), identifying suspicious events as they occur.

5.2. Explain digital forensics and attack attribution processes: Cyber Kill Chain, MITRE ATT&CK Matrix, and Diamond Model; Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP); sources of evidence (artifacts); evidence handling (preserving digital evidence, chain of custody).

5.3. Explain the impact of compliance frameworks on incident handling: Compliance frameworks (GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, FERPA, FISMA), reporting and notification requirements.

5.4. Describe the elements of cybersecurity incident response: Policy, plan, and procedure elements; incident response lifecycle stages (NIST Special Publication 800-61 sections 2.3, 3.1-3.4).