Cyber Security

Understand Cyber Security, the types of threats resulting in cyber attacks, and defense mechanisms available.

Course Code: VIT103
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Digital literacy is essential in today's world. Learn about the traces we leave online, how to improve your digital privacy, and potential threats.

This course introduces the concept of Cyber Security, explains various types of threats available resulting in cyber attacks, and develops your understanding of the defence mechanisms available.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Cyber Security and cyber attacks/defences
    • Importance of cybersecurity
    • Threats - passive attacks, active attacks
    • Common types of attacks - injection, phishing, denial of Service, malware, spoofing, man in the middle, network attacks
    • Layered approach to defense
    • Physical security
    • Software and Operating System Security, Network security
  2. Vulnerability Assessment
    • Assessing vulnerabilities
    • Security posture
    • Performing vulnerability assessment - 5 steps
    • Identifying and classifying assets
    • Threats and risk assessment
    • Baseline reporting
    • Penetration testing - techniques, penetration testing versus vulnerability assessment
  3. Securing the facilities and networks
    • Securing a data centre
    • Securing the network
    • Hardware level
    • Software PC, Device level
  4. Securing your online digital footprint
    • Digital footprints
    • Social media
    • Web browsing
    • Devices used
    • Managing digital footprint
    • Protecting user reputation
    • Sharing personal information
    • Preserving freedoms
    • Preventing financial; losses
    • Privacy risks
    • Developing better online habits
    • Investigating default settings
    • Using privacy enhancing tools
  5. Internet Security and Digital Certificates
    • Digital certificates
    • Digital signatures
    • Digital rights management and Information rights management
    • Electronic books and magazines
    • Generating a digital certificate
    • Exchanging and verifying a digital certificate
    • Web browsing
    • TLS and SSL
    • Security issues
    • Secure web browsing using https
  6. Wireless Network Vulnerabilities, Attacks and Security
    • Types of wireless data networks
    • NFC and Bluetooth network attacks
    • Wireless LAN attacks
    • Network blurred edges
    • Wireless data replay attacks
    • Wireless DOS attacks
    • Rogue access point
    • Attacks on home LANs - war driving, war chalking
    • Wireless security vulnerability and solutions
    • IEEE wireless security vulnerabilities
  7. Firewalls, IDS and IPS
    • Types of firewall protection
    • Packet filtering firewalls
    • Application/proxy firewalls
    • Hybrid firewalls
    • Firewall limitations
    • Formats and firewalls
    • UTM appliance
    • Intrusion detection systems
    • Network intrusion systems
    • Host based intrusion detection systems]
    • Intrusion prevention systems
    • Common detection methodologies
    • Anomaly based IDPS
    • Signature based IDPS
  8. Cryptography
    • Definition, terminology and characteristics
    • Common cipher attacks
    • Ciphertext only attacks
    • Known plaintext attack
    • Dictionary attack
    • Bruit force attack
    • Power analysis attack
    • Fault analysis attack
    • Cryptographical algorithms
    • Symmetric encryption
    • MAC function
    • Asymmetric encryption
    • Slipcovering keys
    • Hash algorithms
  9. Access Control and Authentication
    • What is access control
    • Definition, terminology
    • Access control models - RBAC, RAC, HBAC
    • Implementation - group policies, ACL, DACL, SACL
    • Authentication and authorisation
    • Securing and protecting passwords
    • Multi factor authentication
  10. Cyber attack Disaster Recovery strategies
    • Five stage response
    • Recovery planning
    • Backup procedures
    • cloud storage
    • Monitoring and logging events
    • Containment of attack
    • Assessing damage
    • Recovery procedures - system images SEO, restore data corruption
    • Authorities tracking attackers
    • Data ands security policies
  11. Ongoing Security Management
    • Managing security events - events monitoring
    • Centralised versus Distributed data collection
    • Being organised
    • Understanding the workplace
    • Security and decision making
    • Division of responsibilities
    • Time management
    • Networking
    • Attitude
    • Products and services
    • The law

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Define cyber security.
  • Explain the goals and importance of cyber security.
  • Understand important terminology relating to cyber security and list some attacks and defence mechanisms.
  • Explain how to perform a vulnerability assessment.
  • Understand the tools and techniques available.
  • Compare and contrast vulnerability scanning and penetration testing.
  • Explain how to secure physical data storage, data centre security, data warehouse and networks.
  • Understand the effects of leaving a wide online digital footprint.
  • Understand the options available for users to manage their online digital footprint.
  • Understand what a firewall, an Intrusion Detection System (IDS), and an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) represent in the world of cyber security.
  • Explain the importance and functions of firewalls, IDS and IPS systems, and the benefits and protection they offer in protecting computers as well as computer networks.
  • Understand the concept of cryptography and the importance of encrypting and decrypting data.
  • Explain components of cryptographic protocols and common standards used in encryption and decryption.
  • Understand the importance of digital signatures and digital certificates in securing web traffic.
  • List the various types of wireless data communications networks and understand types of vulnerabilities and attacks against each of them.
  • Explain wireless network security standards available to protect wireless networks.
  • Define Access Control and become familiar with its terminology.
  • Understand the importance of implementing access control models.
  • Define authentication and understand the importance of creating and securing strong passwords and implementing double-factor or multi-factor authentication.
  • Explain how to recover from a cyber-attack and best procedures for setting up redundancy and quick recovery methods prior and after attack has occurred and minimizing impacts to systems and networks involved.

What You Will Do

  • Research layered defence concepts and in particular the idea of defence in depth.
  • Research and explain your choice of cyber-attack.
  • Report on good vulnerability scanners currently available in the market.
  • Research 4 privacy enhancing tools online, such as VPNs, password managers, and other encryption software.
  • Research the latest firewall solutions in the market.
  • Research the latest NIDS and HIDS solutions in the market.

Learn to Assess, then Minimise Vulnerabilities

Cybersecurity starts with understanding potential vulnerabilities, then assessing vulnerabilitiy in a particular situation, then finally taking actions to eliminate or prevent those vulnerabilities.

When organizations are trying to secure their assets, knowledge equates to power. As businesses constantly increase their dependence on information technology -- including placing/migrating data to the cloud, IoT (internet of things) devices, mobile devices, social platforms, and others – their exposure to cyber risks continues to rise significantly. However, just like an annual health check, a vulnerability management program can help organizations identify weaknesses in their cyber systems before these turn into problems. 

Security Posture

This is the technical term for an overall security plan. It is everything from initial planning to implementation. An organisation's security posture usually includes:

  • Technical policies
  • Non-technical policies
  • Procedures
  • Controls

Performing a Vulnerability Assessment

The majority of all cyberattacks are designed to exploit known weaknesses and vulnerabilities. And with thousands and thousands of new vulnerabilities discovered every year, it is important for organizations to exercise constant vigilance to evaluate IT security posture and discover weaknesses, as well as to respond appropriately. A robust vulnerability assessment program is the key to responding to this more dangerous threat environment. This is because a vulnerability assessment is a formal process that identifies and quantifies the security weaknesses including the application software, hardware and networks. 

A vulnerability assessment for an organization should produce a clear report containing a list of the components that require attention in the organization’s environment – and where on the list of priorities these components lie. Systems administrators in organizations’ IT departments are constantly updating, patching and applying software patches to their critical systems, however managing software updates and patches is quite a challenging task for IT departments because patches are known to occasionally cause disruption to other software and in some instances, systems requiring patches cannot be taken offline. For this reason, a good vulnerability assessment will provide the organization with a list of prioritized vulnerabilities sorted by system or software (or others) and can be used by the organization’s IT department and used as a to-do list to improve the organization’s security posture. 

It is important for any organization, even if it is not a high priority target, to devise a plan of defence against today’s advanced cyberattacks whereby attackers program the attacks to actively search for vulnerabilities in systems and networks and automatically start their attack process as soon as these are found. It is also important to know that scanning for vulnerability assessments is one thing, and analysing/prioritizing vulnerabilities by including them in an overall “risk management program” is another. 

A typical vulnerability assessment often involves the 5 steps below:

  1. Identifying which assets need to be protected;
  2. Evaluating threats against those assets;
  3. Undertaking vulnerability appraisal to understand how susceptible the current protection method is;
  4. Assessing risks (using the likelihood and impact of any potential weakness exploitation);
  5. Mitigating risks.


Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Warwickshire College in the UK midlands is an affiliate of ACS Distance Education
Warwickshire College in the UK midlands is an affiliate of ACS Distance Education
Warnborough College in Ireland and England are affiliated with ACS Distance Education
Warnborough College in Ireland and England are affiliated with ACS Distance Education
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Andrew Williams


Dr Julia Mayo-Ramsay

PhD, LLM, AppSc, Grad Dip Agriculture

Josiane Joubran

CSC consultant with IBM, Software QA Engineer, Course Writer and Tutor. Josiane is an I.T professional with extensive experience with computer hardware and engineering in Lebanon and Australia. Josiane has a B.Eng., Grad.Dip.I.T., Master Info.Tech., MCP, MCSE.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Jade Sciascia

Former Business Coordinator, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Administrator (Recruitment), Senior Supervisor (Youth Welfare). International Business Manager for IARC. Academic officer and writer with ACS for over 10 years, both in Australia and in the UK.

Julia Mayo-Ramsay

Dr Julia Mayo-Ramsay is a practicing environmental and agricultural lawyer. She holds a PhD in International Environmental Law, LLM, BLJS, GDLP, LLM (Environmental Law) and a Master of Applied Science (Agriculture).
Julia started out in agriculture working on various dairy farms in the 1980s before working as dairy manager / tutor at Hawkesbury Agricultural College Richmond NSW. Julia then went on to work at Riverina Artificial Breeders at Tabletop (Albury) NSW as an embryo transfer technician assisting vets with artificial breeding and embryo transfer in cattle, sheep and deer. This was followed by two years as a herd manager for a very large commercial dairy herd milking 3,000 cows over three dairies on the outskirts of Sydney before heading overseas. In 1994 Julia accepted a position in NE Thailand at the Sakhon Nakhon Institute of Technology (now a University) training farmers and students in cattle breeding and dairy farm management. On returning to Australia in late 1996 Julia completed a Master of Applied Science in Agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College (UWS) as well as law degrees and maritime studies. Julia now works as a Lawyer in the area of environmental and rural law.
Currently Julia teaches a variety of maritime subjects for Marine Rescue NSW.
As well as teaching Julia is working on a number of environmental research projects.

Michael Brugman

Mike is a graduate of Rhodes University and has experience in the Earth Science field. His working experience includes working as a consultant in geology, environmental and atmospheric science.

More recently he has been focused on research and academia including research interests in areas such as air quality and carbon emissions.

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