With the ever-increasing complexity of technology, organizations must build cybersecurity resilience to stay ahead of the unknown, persistent, and lurking threats. And the threat is growing. Adversaries will use ransomware to strike every 2 seconds by 2031, impacting individuals, organizations, and governments.

Organizations know they need to be better prepared: 82 percent of respondents to Cisco’s recent Cybersecurity Readiness Index said they expect a cybersecurity incident to disrupt their business in the next 12 to 24 months. As a result, organizations are increasing their cybersecurity budgets by at least 10 percent over the next 12 months.

Understanding the mindset of threat actors and intentionally building out offensive security and penetration testing skills is a critical part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy – and companies are hiring for it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects information security analysts including penetration tester employment to grow 32 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Organizations need talent, and they need it now! Due to a talent shortage and open jobs, nearly 3.4 million cybersecurity jobs globally will go unfilled by 2025.

Organizations today need more certification-driven, skills-based training to develop and train their cybersecurity teams, combined with better cybersecurity awareness for all. This is not limited to only the tech industry. Cybersecurity resilience is mission critical in healthcare, transportation, energy, manufacturing, water, smart cities, and more. At the same time, the Cisco Cybersecurity Readiness Index report indicates only 15 percent of companies globally are in a mature state of readiness for cybersecurity, leaving a huge exposure gap. Cisco not only provides best in class security products and solutions; we are also addressing the critical need to close the cybersecurity skills gap via Cisco Networking Academy.

Cisco Networking Academy is one of the longest-standing IT skills-to-jobs programs in the world and has positively impacted over 20 million learners over 26 years. Ninety five percent of students that have taken our certification-aligned courses attribute that Cisco Networking Academy helped them obtain a job or education opportunity. As part of our mission to create an inclusive future for all, Cisco Networking Academy strives to create an engine of upward mobility for diverse groups, including women, veterans, and underserved communities.

Our learning portfolio features a comprehensive offering of cybersecurity courses enabling nearly one million people a year in 190 countries to acquire cybersecurity skills and supports goals we have established in some countries to reach many more students over the next few years (e.g. US (200K people), EU (250K people), India (500K people), and Indonesia (200K people). Our courses are designed with the beginner in mind – providing cybersecurity awareness training for all and clear learning pathways for learners to build the skills needed for entry-level and associate-level job roles.

To further answer the call in this critical area, Cisco Networking Academy has launched a new Ethical Hacker course. Through this course, we’re tackling offensive security, or OffSec, and helping learners prepare for in-demand jobs.

Cisco Networking Academy’s New Ethical Hacker Course

The Cisco Networking Academy Ethical Hacker course is the newest addition to our cybersecurity course offerings. The 70-hour course prepares learners with job-ready skills for OffSec roles like Ethical Hacker and Penetration Tester. It also enhances the skillset for defensive security roles – by understanding the mindset of adversaries, their tactics, and strategies to create stronger defensive layers. The interactive course provides hands-on practice using tools and techniques that threat actors around the world use daily in attempts to breach the defensive security controls of individuals, organizations, and governments. 

The Ethical Hacker course puts learners on an adventure with a fun, engaging, and gamified narrative. Learners step into the role of a Junior Penetration Tester and take on 34 labs and 86 practice activities based on real-world scenarios to help understand cybercriminal mindsets. Learners proactively discover vulnerabilities and respond to security threats while gaining hands-on experience with the most popular penetration testing tool, Kali Linux. And there’s more, including the importance of legal engagement, reporting, and communication across a team. Upon successful completion of the Ethical Hacker course, learners can earn a Cisco-validated digital badge through Credly, proving to employers they’re ready for the next cyber job.

“At the Open University, we saw the Ethical Hacker course from Cisco NetAcad as an essential addition to the skills portfolio of both our students and our wider community. Rather than wait for another academic year, we offered it to all of our students and instructors as an enhancement and so far, the feedback has been outstanding.

Andrew Smith, The Open University, Senior Lecturer in Networking, School of Computing and Communication, UK 

“The Ethical Hacker course is ideal for students who plan to go into the labor market. The course simulates the normal day-to-day process of a person performing penetration testing. It covers legal matters, strategy, planning, and the acquisition of technical skills in solving ‘real’ tasks using freely available tools. Students will gain experience working with the Linux operating system, which is a must for practice in the IT industry. The content nicely combines theory and practice, while knowledge can be tested using several quizzes. Another advantage of the course is multidisciplinary, where students can combine knowledge in security, cybersecurity, computer networks, web technology, databases, and programming. Overall, I rate this course very positively and it will appeal to a large number of students due to the variety of topics. Everyone will find something for themselves in it.”

Rastislav Petija, Technical University of Kosice, Cisco Networking Academy Instructor, Slovakia

“Real-world scenarios. Real-world tools. This class is invaluable and is teaching my IT students to think like white-hat hackers giving them the extra security training needed in a fast-paced and ever-changing Networking and Cybersecurity world.”

– Chris Waters, Bonita High School, US 

“As educators, we are constantly seeking ways to empower our students with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in the rapidly evolving field of cybersecurity. The new Ethical Hacker course, offered by Cisco, has been a game-changer for us and our students. Its comprehensive curriculum and hands-on approach provide our learners with practical experience that is crucial in today’s cybersecurity landscape. The material is forming a key part of our offer to both Cyber Security, Computer Networks and Security and Digital Forensics students.”

– Ron Austin, Birmingham City University, UK 

Ready to Hack? 

The Ethical Hacker course is available for free on Skills for All from Cisco Networking Academy. Access it anytime, anywhere to learn at your own pace. You’ll need entry-level cybersecurity knowledge and basic programming knowledge to be ready to dive in.  

No experience? No problem! Start with the free, self-paced Junior Cybersecurity Analyst Career Path on Skills for All to build your foundation, and then continue on to Ethical Hacker. You can even earn an entry-level CCST Cybersecurity certification along the way.  

If you prefer to learn from an instructor, check out options at a local academy. We have over 11,700 Academies around the globe. Find an academy. 

Learning Never Stops 

Cisco is working to close the cybersecurity skills gap at all levels by offering a continuum of learning to meet learners wherever they are on their career journey. 

For tech professionals who want to reskill or upskill, Cisco Learning & Certifications, including the Cisco U. platform, prepares learners for professional-level certifications up to expert-level bootcamps and role-based skills training.  


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Laura Quintana

Vice President and General Manager

Cisco Networking Academy