Notes on the course “RITx's CYBER501x: Cybersecurity Fundamentals on edx”

My notes from the Cybersecurity Fundamentals course on edX.

For whom?

In large parts, the fundamentals were really basic—what's a port, what's a hash?—so I skipped them. Generally, I recommend the course for people that need a refresher on networking and administration, and want to start getting an understanding of the problems in Cybersecurity. The usefulness for more advanced people comes from the additional resources, the link list that every section contains and that adds more details to the otherwise too basic introduction.

I've summarized the course at May's Cebu Tech Leaders meetup. If you're an org-mode user, you may find the slight helpful in crafting your own presentation.

Personal Highlights

  • Link to a Fascinating reconstruction of the target attack
  • CIA model: What are you guarding / what gets compromised by a (cyber) security incident? The Confidentiality of your data, the Integrity of your data, and the Availability of your system.
  • Balance of the CIA model: You cannot achieve all properties of the CIA model equally, without risk to any. For your application, you must balance and choose trade-offs. For example, a server with perfect (cyber) security is simply powered off. That would mean you sacrifice availability for the other two properties.
  • AAA model: What are angles to look at from a security perspective? Authentication, Authorization, Accounting
  • Multi-factor authentication involves at least two of: * something you know (e.g. password) * something you have (e.g. key file, passport) * something you are (e.g. fingerprint)


Things I knew but for which I either did not have the specific word, or which were vague before.

  • IDS vs IDP: Detection versus Prevention. The former being out-of-band, i.e reading the data passively, adding no direct latency to the observed system, but also not being able to prevent malicious traffic.
  • Kerckhoffs's Principle. Don't use “security by obscurity”, everyone knows that, but instead consider your system secure when it follows Kerchhoffs's Principle: “A cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge.”
  • Spearphishing: Target specific users of certain companies with a phishing campaign.
  • Whaling: Spearphish high-profile users of companies, e.g. C*Os. I only knew this term from sales, so it was fun/scary to realize how explicitly that for others I'm a whale, too.