Advanced online courses on cybersecurity for highly skilled professionals

The challenge to protect companies, citizens and Governments from online threats is more and more complex every day. Higher amount and sophistication of the attacks make it necessary to strengthen the systems. Improving the security of the technologies we use is possible, but in order to achieve it we need qualified professionals with deep knowledge on cybersecurity.

According to CISCO, in 2014 more than one million cybersecurity professionals are needed worldwide. The lack of qualified professionals affects also to Spain. That is why INCIBE is launching initiatives to enhance the appearance, identification and attraction of cybersecurity talent, such as the programs “Cybersecurity Spaces: Workshops on cybersecurity for high school students” and “Advanced online courses on cybersecurity for highly skilled professionals”.

INCIBE’s training platform offers free advanced courses on cybersecurity for highly skilled professionals. The initiative aims to improve the technical specialization of qualified professionals on very specific fields. Courses are delivered via MOOC (massive open online course) in both Spanish and English. Platform has been publish in June 2014.

So far, INCIBE has launched one course: Advanced course on ‘Industrial Automation and Control Systems Cybersecurity’. It started in October 2014 and was available until December 2014.

In response to the lack of skilled cybersecurity professionals available for recruitment, INCIBE offers this Advanced course on ‘Industrial Automation and Control Systems Cybersecurity’ to give the automation and control systems cybersecurity market a boost by providing the sector with qualified personnel with the right skill sets. The need for well-trained and skilled professionals in the field of cybersecurity for industrial automation and control systems is crucial, given these systems are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This MOOC represents an important contribution to raising awareness about the issue and to improving cybersecurity in industrial environments. This course is the only one of its kind in Spain.

Duration of the course is about six weeks, with an estimated study time of 50 hours.

Students who attend the course and pass 90% of practical tests are granted with a “Participation badge” and those who successfully pass the P2P exams get the “Pass badge”. Subscription and issuing of badges are free of any cost for users.

Figure 1: Advanced course on ‘Industrial Automation and Control System Cybersecurity’

Figure 1: Advanced course on ‘Industrial Automation and Control System Cybersecurity’

Partners involved in the initiative are:

INCIBE, responsible for the Program for Excellence on Cybersecurity and driving force of the initiative.

S21sec, multinational specialized on digital security services and technology and currently a leading company on industrial automation and control system cybersecurity, IT security and critical infrastructure protection, the management of complex security projects, as well as on the development of training courses and the training of professionals in all these areas.

Logitek, Spanish company whose mission is to advise the industrial and infrastructures sectors in an optimal management of the generation and exploitation of information in real time, selecting and providing the best solutions and services.

Tecnalia, technology center of international reference in technological development and applied research in various disciplines, including aerospace, automotive, energy, railway transportation, environment, industrial systems, etc.

CCI, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote and contribute to the improvement of industrial cybersecurity by undertaking analysis activities, developing studies, and promoting the dissemination and exchange of information on practices, processes and technologies designed to manage risk in industrial organizations and infrastructures.

The involvement of prestigious national and international experts guarantees that the students were given first-class training by highly qualified professionals in the sector.

The Program for Excellence on Cybersecurity within the Digital Trust Plan of the Spanish government’s Digital Agenda states:

Measure 21: Specialized training on Cybersecurity

Online courses to train people who have interest and expertise in information security in order to achieve higher levels of improvement and encouragement as highly skilled professionals in the field of cybersecurity.

Initially, a pilot course on industrial control systems from the perspective of experts in cybersecurity will be launched.

The first edition of the Advanced course on ‘Industrial Automation and Control System Cybersecurity’, which is the first MOOC organized by INCIBE, has reached positive results. Some of the outputs are:

  • 3,200 participants attended the MOOC, 11% of whom successfully completed the course.
  • Most of the participants (70%) were full-time employees in a wide range of sectors. 34% worked in telecommunications.
  • According to the assessment survey, some 83.7% of the respondents considered the course good or very good.


Figure 2: Results from assessment survey show positive results 

Figure 2: Results from assessment survey show positive results

Perspectives for medium term are the consolidation of the Advanced course on ‘Industrial Automation and Control System Cybersecurity’ in future editions, the creation of new training courses on fields such as IT systems, mobile devices, secure encoding and malware analysis, and the building of new partnerships with companies and experts on every field.


While ultimately accountable to the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism (MINETUR), the Spanish National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE) reports directly to the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society (SETSI). It is the center of reference for the development of cybersecurity and digital trust among the general public, the Spanish academic and research network (RedIRIS) and companies, particularly in strategic sectors.

The aim of this government-supported center of excellence is to develop cybersecurity as a means of transforming society and creating opportunities for innovation. INCIBE is leading a range of national and international cybersecurity projects involving research, the provision of services and the coordination of expert teams.

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