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Udacity Introduction to Cybersecurity Nanodegree Review

Are you looking to get into the field of cybersecurity? In this review, we’ll have a look at whether this nanodegree from one of the leading online IT course providers might help you get there.

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Introduction to Cybersecurity Nanodegree on Udacity: Our Verdict (2024)

Course Rating

4.7 / 5

The Introduction to Cybersecurity “nanodegree” from Udacity offers a comprehensive overview of the effectiveness of equipping people with vital cybersecurity skills. Covering essential topics like cybersecurity foundations, threat intelligence, incident response, and governance, the program provides a solid foundation for navigating the cybersecurity landscape. Practical projects and expert guidance enhance learning and give students a grounding in addressing real-world problems. The program is recommended for beginners to seasoned practitioners seeking to enter or advance in the cybersecurity field.


  • Comprehensive overview
  • Real-world practical projects
  • In line with industry guidelines
  • Expert advice and assistance


  • Limited discussion of complex subjects
  • Less relevant for non-Windows environments
  • Relatively expensive

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

At a time when cyberattacks constantly threaten our digital assets – whether those of businesses, public services, or individuals – there is a greater need than ever for qualified professionals who can assess, manage, and monitor computer systems to keep them secure. Cybersecurity affects every part of our everyday lives and is not only a worry for governments and big businesses. Almost every facet of contemporary life depends on safe digital infrastructure, from individual bank transactions to the workings of global firms. And with the rise of cyber threats like ransomware, phishing, malware, and DDoS assaults, there is a severe lack of qualified individuals to keep everyone safe.

Expected and current costs of cybercrime
Expected and current costs of cybercrime (source)

Given this situation, it’s critical to have high-quality introductory programs to induce new professionals into the field of cybersecurity – an area that I am particularly interested in as a graduate in computer science and information security. Coming from one of the leading providers of IT-related online courses,  the Nanodegree program “Introduction to Cybersecurity” on Udacity comes across as a particularly interesting option, promising students the necessary information and real-world experience to understand cybersecurity.

Gaps hindering career progression in cybersecurity
The gaps in hindering career progression in cybersecurity

In this review, we will examine every aspect of this program, including its relevance, real-world applications, and possible impact on future employability. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Course Overview

Expected and current costs of cybercrime (source)

The “Introduction to Cybersecurity” is a program offered on Udacity. As a “Nanodegree” program, it is one of the platform’s flagship offerings (in contrast with their more mundane “courses”), which go more in-depth on a topic and help prepare students with real-world case studies and projects. Unlike many other platforms, your assignments are looked at by paid reviewers, ensuring that those who complete the courses have actually learned something and who also provide feedback to make sure that you end up with portfolio-ready projects.

The program gives you a strong basis on which to develop your expertise in cybersecurity by exploring the fundamental ideas, important security measures, and industry best practices in the field. You will start out by exploring basic things like tutorial viruses but also get introduced to more advanced skills needed to evaluate risks, spot vulnerabilities, and put effective security measures in place through a combination of classroom instruction, practical exercises, and real-world applications. Every aspect of the program, including cybersecurity foundations, threat intelligence, incident response, system defense, governance, risk, and compliance, is crucial in molding the upcoming generation of cybersecurity experts.

This is a beginner-level program without any prerequisites apart from being able to operate a computer – and having basic knowledge about how to operate a command line interface. However, as it goes fairly in-depth, it’s also a suitable option for those with more extensive IT experience who are new to the area of cybersecurity.

Note that the focus is on Windows environments, which is suitable as it is the dominant operating system on the market. However, this makes the program less relevant for those working on other kinds of environments.

The indicated course length is three months  – but as the pace is flexible, you can complete it in a shorter or longer time as you need (however, note that the cost of the program depends on the time taken to complete it, as access is only via subscription to the platform).

The program consists of four main courses, each expected to take 3-4 weeks to complete:

  1. Cybersecurity Foundations
  2. Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Incident Response
  3. Defending and Securing Systems
  4. Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Each of the courses includes 6-7 lessons, each covering a major topic. These consist of video lectures, additional reading and resources, quizzes, and exercises. Each course also ends with a major graded project, where you are walked through creating a solution to a real-world problem.

The program also includes an introductory course to help you navigate your way through the program, as well as a final “career services” lesson to help you improve your LinkedIn profile.

Detailed review: The component courses

To give you a better idea of what is covered in the program, let’s have a look at each of its courses in more detail.

Course 1: Cybersecurity Foundations

The Cybersecurity Foundations module is the starting point, providing learning with a comprehensive understanding of essential concepts, principles, and practices in cybersecurity. Through this module, you will delve into the intricacies of cybersecurity fluency, gaining an understanding of terminology, concepts, and methodologies prevalent in the field. The course explores vulnerability management strategies, mastering techniques for identifying, assessing, and mitigating vulnerabilities across diverse computing environments.

Additionally, the module delves into identity and access management fundamentals, equipping you with the knowledge and skills to manage user identities, access privileges, and authentication mechanisms effectively. You’ll also learn about threat intelligence approaches, which help them to anticipate and proactively assess new cyber threats.

This module provides a strong foundation for learning fundamental cybersecurity principles, crucial security controls, and industry best practices.

Definitions of New Terms in the First Course
Definitions of new terms in the first course

Course 2: Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Incident Response:

The module on Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Incident Response delves into the ever-changing world of cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and the necessary tactics to reduce risks and handle security incidents successfully. This course goes into the anatomy of cyber threats, providing an understanding of the strategies, tactics, and motives used by threat actors to compromise digital assets. In addition, it will help you become proficient in locating, ranking, and fixing vulnerabilities in various computer settings.

The program will give you the tools to create cybersecurity incident response playbooks (which was particularly interesting, in my view) and get familiar with offensive security tactics, ethical hacking, penetration testing, and red team activities.

Quiz on Understanding Testing Methods and Tools in Course 2
Quiz on understanding testing methods and tools in course 2

Course 3: Defending and Securing Systems:

The Defending and Securing Systems curriculum gives you the technical know-how and hands-on experience you need to defend computer systems from online attacks. You explore the complexities of cryptography in this lesson, learning the encryption methods, cryptographic algorithms, and cryptographic protocols necessary to protect data while it’s in transit and at rest. In addition, you investigate security information and event management (SIEM) platforms, learning about threat detection techniques, event correlation, and log management.

The course also covers systems security principles, giving you the ability to successfully mitigate common security vulnerabilities, safeguard network services, and harden operating systems. In addition, you become proficient in network security best practices, firewall configurations, and intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), which help students create and deploy resilient defenses in a variety of computing environments, as you’ll practice in the project at the end of the course.

A Slide on Contingency Planning Fundamentals in Course 3
A slide on contingency planning fundamentals in course 3

Course 4: Governance, Risk, and Compliance:

The module on Governance, Risk, and Compliance offers you a thorough synopsis of the cybersecurity domain’s governance, risk, and compliance environment. You’ll learn about the significance of cybersecurity governance frameworks throughout this subject, as well as the industry standards, legal regulations, and compliance frameworks that control cybersecurity operations. In addition, you study cybersecurity compliance requirements and become proficient in coordinating organizational procedures with legal requirements and industry standards.

The course also examines risk management techniques, giving you the tools you need to recognize, evaluate, and successfully reduce cybersecurity threats. You also learn how to create cybersecurity policies, manage stakeholders, and implement security risk remediation techniques, which helps companies construct a proactive risk management and compliance culture.

Slide on Governance Steps in Course 4
Slide on governance steps in course 4

What I liked about the Nanodegree

  1. Comprehensive coverage: The program provides a thorough examination of cybersecurity basics, covering a broad range of subjects from basic ideas to sophisticated methods. The instructors make sure that you gain a comprehensive grasp of the cybersecurity environment and are prepared to take on a variety of challenges in the industry.
  2. Real-world practical projects: An exceptional aspect of the program is its focus on experiential, real-world learning. you can reinforce their comprehension and expand their skills by applying theoretical principles in real-world circumstances through a series of interactive projects and simulations. This method of experiential learning not only improves recall but also equips you to confidently and competently handle cybersecurity concerns.
  3. Alignment with industry guidelines: The curriculum has been created to conform to industry norms, best practices, and new developments in the field of cybersecurity. Through continuous innovation and the integration of pertinent industry perspectives into the curriculum, the program guarantees that you are adequately equipped to maneuver through the constantly changing cybersecurity terrain and adjust to new demands and technological advancements.
  4. Expert advice and assistance: You gain knowledgeable advice and assistance from seasoned cybersecurity experts throughout the program. Learners have access to a multitude of tools and support systems that establish a favorable learning environment and facilitate knowledge acquisition, from skilled instructors to committed mentors.

Drawbacks of the Nanodegree

  1. Limited discussion of complex topics: The curriculum provides a thorough introduction to cybersecurity principles, although it may not cover all of the more advanced subjects and specialized areas of the field. This may limit the opportunities for in-depth expertise in fields like cloud security, digital forensics, and ethical hacking. To get deeper into these topics, you might need to acquire specialist certificates or add to your knowledge with other resources.
  2. Relatively expensive: The course is relatively expensive compared to many other introductory programs, making it less accessible to some who would benefit from it.
Lesson Overview: Monitoring and Logging for Detection of Malicious Activity
Lesson overview of monitoring and logging for detection of malicious activity

What do others say of the Nanodegree?

Most graduates of the Introduction to Cybersecurity Nanodegree are very positive about the program. In their reviews, they particularly emphasize how the program effectively provides you with the academic knowledge and practical skills necessary for success in the cybersecurity field. The program’s thorough treatment of cybersecurity foundations, practical applicability, and conformity to industry standards and best practices were highly praised. The graded projects were found by several reviewers to be at an appropriate level – neither too easy nor too difficult.

In terms of criticism, the main point of contention has been problems with the virtual machines that you need to use for the projects, which have been very slow and buggy for some users. This has, however, hopefully, been addressed in the latest updates to the course. The focus on Windows environments also surprised some of the reviewers, who nonetheless found the course useful.

Slide on SIEM Frameworks
Slide on SIEM frameworks

Complements and alternatives to the Nanodegree

Although Udacity’s Introduction to Cybersecurity Nanodegree program provides a strong foundation in cybersecurity, you can further improve your skill sets and career prospects by adding specialized courses or certifications to complement the program.


Having completed the Introduction to Cybersecurity Nanodegree program, I found that I had greatly expanded my knowledge of cybersecurity principles, techniques, and approaches, even with a relevant university degree in my pocket. The practical projects, real-world simulations, and hands-on exercises like SIEM frameworks allowed me to get used to these tools to identify threats, put security controls in place, and handle security crises. In addition, the well-organized course material and professional coaching made learning easy and helped me understand difficult ideas so I could use them competently and confidently in practical situations.

I recommend this program for anyone looking to start a career in cybersecurity or expand their skill set in this exciting industry. This curriculum will be especially helpful to aspiring cybersecurity professionals, security analysts, network administrators, and IT managers as it will equip them with the information, abilities, and real-world experience needed to succeed in the constantly changing field of digital security.

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