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Getting your bearings

Week 1 guide
CORY DOCTOROW: Hi, I’m Cory Doctorow, and I’ll be your guide through this 8 week course, catching up with you each week to recap on what we’ve covered and how it relates to what you’ll be learning during the week. I used to be the European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. That’s campaigning civil liberties group in San Francisco that, among other things, legalised the use of strong cryptography around the world and continues to be involved in a lot of important struggles. I’m also a visiting professor at the Open University, and I hold an honorary doctorate in Computer Science from the OU.
At the start of the course, you’ll learn the basics of information security and how to take some easy steps to secure your digital life. We’ll then begin to look under the hood, exploring some of the technologies underpinning the internet and information security. You’ll see how data moves between computers over the internet, how it could be attacked, and how it can be kept secure. What if you are attacked? We’ll also be looking at ways to deal with the aftermath, as well as steps you can take to prevent any future attacks from being successful. By the end of the course, you’ll know how to recognise online threats.
You’ll know what steps to take to reduce any chance of being harmed by them, and you’ll know how to feel secure your digital life. This week you’ll be learning some of the basic terminology used when discussing information security. You’ll also start to learn about the different threats you’ll face online.
Welcome to ‘Introduction to Cyber Security’ from The Open University.
Cory Doctorow is your guide through this course. He is a visiting professor at The Open University. He’ll meet you at the start of each week to let you know what’s coming up and remind you of what you’ve learned so far to help you make the most of your learning.

About the course

Your journey into the world of cyber security and protecting your digital life has been organised into eight weeks of study. The first three weeks focus on understanding the basics of cyber security. This includes an exploration of the security threat landscape, together with some of the basic techniques for protecting your computers and your online information.
You’ll then look ‘under the hood’, exploring some of the technologies that underpin the internet and cyber security. This will include gaining an understanding of how computers are connected in a network and how the data transmitted across that network is kept secure.
In the final two weeks of the course, you’ll look at what can be done if you suffer a successful cyber security attack and how to develop an action plan. As part of this, you’ll learn about both the legal and technical aspects of recovering from an attack.
This course will not only help you take steps to protect yourself online, such as how to create a strong password, but also provide an overview of cyber security from the security threat landscape to how the internet works. It will also provide a foundation for further study of this important discipline.

About the presentation

The course is designed to run on desktops, tablets and mobile devices; however, some of the material is quite detailed and using a larger screen will enhance your experience. Materials are best viewed running the most up to date software available for your device and using the most recent version of the web browser.


From time to time you’ll see downloadable PDFs at the bottom of a page. These are provided to help your learning. They include transcripts, extracts and information sheets that you may want to save for future reference.

Tests and quizzes

To test your knowledge we’ve provided end-of-week quizzes and an end-of-course test. Quizzes are dotted throughout the weeks’ content and also at the end of the week. They are included purely to help you learn. If you’ve upgraded, you’ll see the test at the end of the Week. This will help you to check what you’ve learned and will be your final mark. Your scores will be totalled up and you can monitor them on the progress page.

Comments and discussions

There are plenty of opportunities to communicate with other learners. You’ll be able to make comments at any point in the course – just click on the pink plus symbol (+) to open the comments area. You’ll also notice discussion points, which offer a more structured dialogue with your fellow learners on key topics. Please join in! Why not introduce yourself now by posting a comment below?
Please make use of the ‘like’ feature within comments and discussions if you see a comment you like or a question that you want to ask too. This will assist the mentors in answering as many of your questions as possible, and the posts with the most ‘likes’ are more likely to receive a response. They will aim respond to the most liked questions within one week.
If you have a question or issue not covered by FutureLearn’s FAQs, you can contact FutureLearn using the Support button below.
The comments sections can be a little overwhelming if there are lots of responses, so please don’t feel you have to read all of them! We recommend reading any comments by the lead educator and mentors, then the first page of most recent comments and after that the first page of ‘most liked’ comments – this will help you keep up-to-date with the newest and hottest comments in the course.
When making comments and participating in discussions, please remember that these will be visible to the thousands of learners registered on the course, so make sure you only share information that you would be happy to be publicly visible.
Important: Think carefully before you click on links posted by other learners in discussions – just as you should on any website.

Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:
Unlimited access to the course: Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.
Access to tests: Ensure you’ve mastered the material with access to tests on the course.
A Certificate of Achievement: To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.
Find out more
External recognition of your skills with APMG: Prove your knowledge with the cyber security certificate from APMG International – get 20% off the APMG cyber security exam.
If you upgrade this course you’ll receive your APMG discount code in your order confirmation email. If you’re an Unlimited learner, please contact to request your discount code.

Profile pages

You can view the profile pages of your fellow learners, and ‘follow’ them to keep track of their comments. We recommend that you follow the lead educator, Arosha Bandara.
You can also follow the mentors, Peter Thomson and Terry Burbidge.

FutureLearn and The Open University

If this is the first FutureLearn course you have studied, you might find it useful to visit the Using Futurelearn page.

Social media

During the course, the lead educator will tweet from @OUCyberSec. Follow for the latest news! You can talk about the course using #FLCybersec.
© The Open University
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Introduction to Cyber Security

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