August 9, 2019

A Back to School List of Cybersecurity Studies

Gus Hinojosa

There are a lot of great and exciting resources out there for cybersecurity students. Whether you are self-taught or in an academic setting, the learning never stops. In fact, in my day to day life, I even make it a goal to learn at least 5 new concepts a day. In the field of Cybersecurity there is a ton of abstract and grey areas where you do not always know the answers. Sometimes that is the beauty of this career field. The hunt for solutions. However, a great deal of time is spent searching for resources to learn in your spare time than learning. So, I am here to do you some justice and help you win back some of that valuable time you can spend learning instead of learning how to weave your way through this maze. First, we are going to start with some hardware that might prove useful. Then I will do my best to give you the best free resources although some of them may require a minor monetary fee. I have been through this maze, many of times, and have lost money doing so. My goal here is to give you a comprehensive resource guide, that will be updated every quarter, to keep you the most informed. I will include websites, discord servers, online courses, Github repos with blueprints, and pretty much everything I know that will help steer you in the right direction. I will use sources that provide a constant update cycle, meaning that anything I add here, will always be relevant. As I batch these out every quarter keep in mind there may be some overlap.


  • Alfa Long-Range Dual-Band AC1200 Wireless USB 3.0 Wi-Fi Adapter
    This wireless card, is pretty much a no fuss, plug and play option. This is also one that I use daily & is one I found recommended by a course from below.
    You will need this for wireless hacking and security research.
  • USB Thumb Drives
    These are always extremely handy. Having them on hand and in small bulk can save you many headaches.
    They are also easy to let go of if you wish to house a client report on.
    As well they work for a multitude of security research from Tails OS, to Bad USB, etc.
  • An External HD of at least 1TB.
    I have a general rule when doing security research and life in general. Never permanently house sensitive data on systems that could be vulnerable.
    While in college getting into this habit can benefit you in the future. You will already be in the mindset to back up everything.
  • A dual screen setup can be beneficial, but it is not necessary.
  • A medium to take notes. Paper or Digital.

This should pretty much get you going in the hardware department. There’re other small things like zip ties for cables, wireless keyboard & mouse, etc. but not having them will not hinder your capabilities.
Microsoft was made in a garage in a time when computers were the size of small houses and cost the same as mansions. A good rule is Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Open Source and Free Courses:

  • Open Source Computer Science Degree by Forrest Knight
    There is also a YouTube Video explaining the details of his course
  • The Cyber Mentor
    I am going through one of his courses now. He also provides a generic Penetration Test Report to mock a real-life scenario in the field.
    They are all free on YouTube and he has a community on Discord that has many professionals to help you through the courses if you are to get stuck.
  • Professor Messer
    If you have been in the industry or close by for a bit this guy should ring some bells. Almost like a rite of passage. Hands down a good free source to study CompTIA and other tech certs.
  • Thomas Frank

Not really geared to cybersecurity, but more to the student body, of which will help you in cyber security.
If you are a self-taught individual, you can learn things here that will make you more effective in everything from taking notes, to studying, and how to even read more effectively.

  • Siraj Raval
    For those interested in everything from Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Advanced Math, to Blockchain and more. This is your guy. He also works heavily with open source education.
  • freeCodeCamp
    I know this is more geared toward web development. However, it is relevant to security. How are you going to break a website if you do not know how to code one?
    Even if you don’t fancy web hacking, this is still a great tool to help you think critically and understand code structures.

Paid Courses and Subscriptions:

  • Udemy – Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch with Zaid Sabih
    I am only going to post this one from Zaid to get you started. You can’t go wrong with any course from him.
    Keep in mind Udemy always has sales. You can usually find this course for under $10.
    Zaid is in my top for security because he keeps his courses updated & is actively involved with his students.
  • Packt Pub
    One of the industry leaders when it comes to technological references. Physical copies can get expensive, but this subscription sits at a couple cups of coffee for the digital versions.
    Zaid Sabih also has a book mirroring the course above.
  • Cybrary
    Free or Paid. They also have Pro Paths that come with mentors, slack channels, hands on labs and other resources to get you career ready.
  • Linux Academy
    They have a great deal of courses in this subscription for Linux, AWS, Red Hat, and CEH.
    They also provide lesson plans to work with your schedule and help you organize a path to obtaining a certification.
  • CBT Nuggets
    This is used by a great deal of industry professionals and schools. There is even a Community College close by that uses this as the base of their degree.
    This subscription is good for entry level certs and some advanced.


  • Daniel Miessler
    He teaches security at a more personal level, professional, and an industry standard.
  • TripWire
    A general all around news site for security news
  • Dark Reading
    Mostly geared towards enterprise but all around a general site to get great security news.
  • The Hacker News
    Focusing on security news but more on the side of breaches, attacks, and vulnerabilities
  • Reddit
    This is a great resource but also a place that can be a huge rabbit hole. Type the subject you seek in the search bar and be amazed.

Although this list may not be extremely comprehensive, this should be enough material for you to kick off your school year. I added Thomas Frank in the categories of free courses for study habits and time management. Two huge skills that are vastly beneficial if you can master early on. School will teach you what they know when they know it. It is up to you to stay informed and up to date. I hope this list can aid you in your educational journeys and that your fall semester kicks off to a great start. This is my first big blog release and I do appreciate you spending the time to read through.

Brian Dodwell
Student Advisory Board NCSA