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Review of Coursera’s IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate

In a world full of online threats, could the “IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate” on Coursera be your way into a career keeping the internet safe?

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Coursera Professional Certificate – Coursera’s IBM Cybersecurity Analyst: Our Verdict (2023)

Course Rating

4.4 / 5

Want to fight cybercrime? The IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate might just be your starting point in the world of cybersecurity. Set at a beginner level, this 4-month program offers a thorough exploration of cybersecurity essentials. From network security and endpoint protection to incident response and threat intelligence, it covers the critical skills needed for a junior cybersecurity analyst role, albeit with a focus on IBM tools. With no prior experience required, this program is perfect for those with some foundational IT knowledge who are ready to dive into the high-demand field of cybersecurity, offering both practical skills and a pathway to potential college credits.


  • Professional-level training
  • Comprehensive program taking you from beginner to junior professional
  • IBM certificate and digital badge


  • Not suitable for absolute beginners
  • Focused on IBM tools and technologies
  • Minimal focus on design
  • Limited personalized feedback

Time-limited offer
$100 USD off your first year of Coursera Plus Annual (expires 1 April 2024)

In an era dominated by cybersecurity threats evolving with unprecedented speed and complexity, it is no surprise that there are more than 147,000 job openings in cybersecurity, with a median U.S. salary of over $119,000. Getting started in cybersecurity can, however, be quite a challenge – the impression that you might get is that the only way in is to spend your youth as a hacker.

Given this situation, the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera is a very welcome addition for those aspiring to enter the cybersecurity domain and who might not have much prior experience in this area. The program, a collaborative effort between IBM and Coursera, is tailored to equip aspiring cybersecurity professionals with essential skills and knowledge and hopefully serve as a stepping stone to a rewarding career.

In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at what the program covers and how well it prepares students for a job in this area. We’ll also have a look at some of the alternatives out there for preparing for a career in cybersecurity. So with that, let’s dive into this program!

Table of Contents

Program overview

The IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate program consists of eight courses covering essential cybersecurity topics like network security, endpoint protection, incident response, and threat intelligence. No prior cybersecurity experience is formally required, but you would want to have at least a basic IT familiarity with computers before getting started – and a willingness to acquire new technical skills. Unlike some other Professional Certificates on Coursera that help you prepare for an external exam, this Professional Certificate is self-contained, providing its credentials upon completion.

Contrary to its beginner-level designation, the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate dives into topics that could pose a challenge to those without an IT background – but even complete beginners should do fine as long as they are willing to spend extra time on doing some extracurricular work building some of the skills that the program implicitly assumes. Spanning approximately four months and requiring about ten hours of weekly commitment, the courses are designed to provide a blend of theoretical understanding and practical, hands-on experience.

Homepage of the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera
IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera

The production value of the program, reflective of IBM’s high standards, ensures that the content is current and relevant to today’s cybersecurity challenges. This design and content focus on equipping learners with skills and knowledge pertinent to current and emerging cybersecurity issues.

How much does the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate cost?

The IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera requires the completion of eight fairly demanding courses. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands or you already have a lot of pre-existing skills in the covered areas, it is likely to take most students the three months that Coursera estimates to complete. With a monthly cost of $49 to access the program, this certificate will cost you around $147. Note that, like the other Professional Certificates from IBM on Coursera, the program is not included in Coursera Plus.

While full access to the program is not free, you can always audit the course and gain access to the main course material, but without the graded assignments, quizzes, and the certificate of completion.

Detailed course review

The program is divided into eight courses, each focusing on a specific area of cybersecurity. If you’re planning to take this, it’s a good idea to go through the courses in the order they’re listed, as they build upon each other, and you won’t be able to take the final course until the previous seven ones are completed. Let’s have a closer look at each course to explore its features and learning outcomes.

  1. Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks
  2. Cybersecurity Roles, Processes & Operating System Security
  3. Cybersecurity Compliance Framework & System Administration
  4. Network Security & Database Vulnerabilities
  5. Penetration Testing, Incident Response and Forensics
  6. Cyber Threat Intelligence
  7. Cybersecurity Capstone: Breach Response Case Studies
  8. IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Assessment

Course 1 – Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks

The first course in the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate series, “Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks,” is a a beginner-level course, with a duration of 17 hours, covering fundamental topics like types of cyber attacks, cybersecurity technologies, and basic risk management.

Video lecture providing an overview of online security topics in the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate
Video lecture on providing an overview of online security topics

The course provides a comprehensive introduction, making it ideal for those new to the field or looking to refresh their knowledge. The blend of theoretical concepts and real-world examples provides a balanced approach, ensuring learners grasp the essential principles of cybersecurity. The instructors, experienced professionals from IBM, deliver the content in an engaging and accessible manner, making complex topics understandable for beginners. This course acts as a crucial stepping stone, preparing learners for the more advanced topics in the subsequent courses.

Course 2 – Cybersecurity Roles, Processes & Operating System Security

Focusing on various cybersecurity roles and processes, this course offers an in-depth look at operating system security. It is tailored for learners who are familiar with basic cybersecurity concepts and are interested in exploring different career paths within the field. The course provides a comprehensive overview of roles such as Security Analyst, Penetration Tester, and Incident Responder, giving insights into the responsibilities and skills required for each. The section on operating system security is particularly noteworthy, covering essential techniques and best practices for securing both Windows and Linux systems.

Course 3 - Cybersecurity Compliance Framework & System Administration

This course explores how cybersecurity compliance frameworks relate to system administration, looking to bridge the gap between the legal and regulatory environment and the technical skills of a cybersecurity professional. The detailed coverage of system administration, focusing on securing and managing systems, adds significant practical value. The instructors’ expertise in compliance and administration shines through, providing insights into how cybersecurity fits within broader organizational and legal contexts.

Completing a quiz on compliance frameworks
Quiz on compliance frameworks

Course 4 - Network Security & Database Vulnerabilities

In this course, learners are introduced to network security principles and database vulnerabilities, crucial for understanding the technical aspects of cybersecurity. Aimed at intermediate learners, the course covers topics like network architecture, common network attacks, and strategies for securing databases. The hands-on labs provide an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge, making it highly relevant for those looking to develop practical skills in cybersecurity.

Course 5 – Penetration Testing, Incident Response and Forensics

This advanced course in the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate program provides an in-depth exploration of how to conduct penetration tests, respond to cybersecurity incidents, and perform digital forensic investigations. Building on the previous courses, you need to have a fairly solid understanding of cybersecurity fundamentals to be able to follow along.

Alongside a wealth of reference materials like articles and PDFs, this course focuses on network data analysis to identify cyber-attackers, explores the TCP/IP model layers for digital forensics, and discusses forensic methods for various systems. It also contrasts data types for forensic collection, details methods and tools for data analysis, and covers the essentials of forensic reporting, including NIST’s data collection steps and challenges in digital forensics.

Engaging in an article reading session on handling digital evidence
Article reading - Handling digital evidence

This advanced course, enriched with hands-on labs and real-world scenarios, is crucial for those aiming to specialize in active defense and post-incident roles in cybersecurity.

Course 6 – Cyber Threat Intelligence

In the Cyber Threat Intelligence course, learners explore the processes of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence about potential or current cyber threats and attacks. The course stands out for its focus on real-world applications and the use of current case studies, helping learners understand the importance of cyber threat intelligence in proactive cybersecurity strategies.

Video lecture in Course 6 covering threat intelligence platforms in the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate
Video lecture in course 6 on threat intelligence platforms

Course 7 - Cybersecurity Capstone: Breach Response Case Studies

This 16-hour course offers a practical application of the skills and knowledge gained throughout the program. Learners undertake an immersive capstone project, selecting and analyzing a current cybersecurity breach. This exercise is crucial for demonstrating competency in cybersecurity analysis and readiness for real-world challenges.

The course begins with a deep dive into incident management and cyber-attack response frameworks. Here, learners explore the NIST incident response, target attack timelines, and learn how to utilize X-Force resources effectively for real-time cyber incident management. As the course progresses, it focuses on specific cyber threats, including detailed case studies on phishing scams and the impact of third-party breaches on organizations. Moreover, it shifts to the practical application of skills, as learners are tasked with identifying data breaches, understanding vulnerabilities, and assessing the potential costs and impacts of security threats. This hands-on project is not only the cornerstone for earning the certificate but also a pivotal demonstration of the learners’ ability to navigate the cybersecurity landscape.

By blending theoretical knowledge with practical experience, this capstone course effectively readies learners for a career in cybersecurity, ensuring they are equipped to handle the diverse challenges of a cybersecurity analyst role.

Course 8 - IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Assessment

The final course in the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate, “IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Assessment,” serves as a benchmark for evaluating the skills and knowledge acquired throughout the preceding courses. Consequently, you cannot start this course until you have completed the preceding seven courses in the program.

This course is structured as an assessment, providing learners with an opportunity to validate their understanding and proficiency in various aspects of cybersecurity. It encompasses a series of tests and practical assignments designed to simulate real-world cybersecurity challenges. It is particularly significant as it goes beyond theoretical knowledge, testing the ability to apply concepts in practical, scenario-based problems. The assessment covers a wide range of topics, from network security and incident response to threat intelligence and system administration, ensuring a well-rounded evaluation of the learner’s capabilities.

Quiz section of the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate Assessment Exam
A quiz part of the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate Assessment Exam

What do others say?

Feedback on the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate is generally positive, especially on Coursera, where students praise the course’s practical nature and comprehensive curriculum. Many learners value the hands-on projects and the real-world skills they develop, seeing them as crucial for a future in cybersecurity. However, some reviews indicate that the coursework can be intense, suggesting it might be challenging for those completely new to IT.

Beyond Coursera, discussions on platforms like Reddit offer varied perspectives. Some students have shared their successful transitions into new cybersecurity roles post-completion, while others emphasize the need for additional self-study alongside the certificate. The cost of the program is also a factor to consider, though many find the investment worthwhile given the career opportunities in cybersecurity.

course feedback

Alternatives and complements to this certificate

Exploring different educational paths can add depth and variety to your cybersecurity knowledge. While the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate offers a solid start, here are some other options you should consider:

  1. Microsoft Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera: This course focuses on Microsoft’s security solutions, making it a great option if you’re interested in Microsoft environments and can be a good complement to the IBM program.
  2. Cybersecurity MicroMasters Program on edX: For a more academic and theory-focused approach, this program covers a wide range of cybersecurity topics. It’s a good fit if you’re looking to deepen your understanding of the field, but it comes with a higher price tag and greater time commitment.
  3. The Complete Cyber Security Course on Udemy: If the price point of Coursera’s Professional Certificates is an issue, you might prefer this course from Udemy, which is often available at a discounted rate of less than $20. While the production quality of the instruction material does not compare, and it lacks in graded assignments, it provides a solid introduction to a range of cybersecurity topics.
  4. CompTIA Security+ Certification: Widely recognized in the industry, this certification focuses on the cybersecurity basics, helping you demonstrate that you have a strong foundational knowledge.
  5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional Certification: If you’re aiming for a more advanced level, CISSP is one of the best-regarded certifications in cybersecurity. It’s ideal for those looking to demonstrate their skills at a higher level. A comprehensive CISSP preparatory course is available on Udemy.
  6. Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP): For a more hands-on, technical approach, the OCSP certification focuses on penetration testing skills.
  7. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): For a different route into cybersecurity, the CEH certification is an interesting option. Udemy offers a good preparatory course for the certification’s practical exam.

Conclusion and recommendation

If you’re considering a career in cybersecurity, the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate is definitely worth exploring. It gives you a thorough understanding of the current threat landscape that businesses face and introduces you to the tools and skills needed to counter them. Throughout the course, you’ll engage with real-world case studies and leading-edge technologies, building a strong foundation in cybersecurity principles.

On the positive side, it brings a deep dive into cybersecurity, complete with rich content and real-world labs. On the flip side, the program demands considerable time and financial investment, and its complexity might be daunting for absolute beginners.

This program not only sharpens your ability to address various digital security challenges but also awards you a globally recognized certification. Additionally, you’ll have the possibility of earning 10 college credits at American universities, as it holds an ACE recommendation – potentially beneficial for further studies. The program includes practical projects – perfect for demonstrating your new skills and enhancing your professional portfolio. For those aiming to break into the world of cybersecurity, this IBM certificate can be the stepping stone that they have been looking for.

Time-limited offer
$100 USD off your first year of Coursera Plus Annual (expires 1 April 2024)