Hackers manage again and again to steal passwords, to access sensitive enterprise and user data, and, in the worst case scenario, to even paralyze entire companies. The Internet offers various possibilities to its users, but, at the same time, it harbors dangers and vulnerable points of attack, which many people are not even aware of. In this openHPI course you will learn the basics of Internet security. Why is the Internet insecure by nature of its design? What are the weak spots of the Internet and how are they exploited by cybercriminals? We want to answer these questions and a lot more in this course. Additionally, we will advise you on how to protect yourself from such cyberattacks.
Self-paced
Language: English
IT Security, Recent developments

Course information


Since the late sixties, American researchers have not only been able to use computers as standalone calculating machines but to connect them to a broad network. This was the start of the Internet which, in the meantime, connects nearly four billion people and around 23 billion devices, (e.g., computers, smartphones and sensors). The network of networks has therefore also become an attractive target for criminals. Around four million attacks are registered every day, (i.e., 50 per second). Although the economic damage around the globe is huge - and we are talking about US$400 billion a year - only a small amount of resources is spent on Internet security.

Protection from Internet risks requires more action worldwide: from businesses, institutions, public authorities, and every one of us. In this 6-week free course in English, we offer practical support to face this challenging task. With no prior knowledge required, participants can find out what methods hackers use to break into computers and networks. Learn how cybercriminals manage to steal passwords and how you can protect yourself from such cyberattacks.

The workload of this course is equivalent to 2 ECTS credits.

Course characteristics:

  • Language: English
  • Starting from: February 26, 2018
  • Course end: April 9, 2018
  • Duration: 6 weeks (3-6 hours per week)
  • Target group: Anyone who uses the Internet
  • Course requirements: none

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Use the hashtag #intsec2018 to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.
Additional video lecturing material can be found at www.tele-task.de .

Course contents


  • Week 1:

    We will explain the basic terms vulnerability, attack, and incident in the first week. Furthermore, we will elaborate on attackers, their motives and their origins.
  • Week 2:

    In week 2, we will explain the idea and the concept of digital Identities and passwords. We will discuss the digital footprint, the feasibility to (easily) crack passwords and guidelines to chose a secure password.
  • Week 3:

    In this week we will discuss several issues about malware. We will cover different types, such as, viruses, worms, and trojans, talk about botnets and mention some countermeasures.
  • Week 4:

    In week 4, we will talk about dangers and risks that arise through the usage of open routes in the Internet. Therefore, we will discuss how attacks can capture messages and eavesdrop or even manipulate and compromise connections. Furthermore, some security mechanisms for those open communication channels, such as firewalls and encryption are illustrated.
  • Week 5:

    In the 5th week, we will take a closer look at the general topic encryption. Therefore, we explain different cryptographic algorithms and how they can be used for various purposes.
  • Week 6:

    In this week we will talk about several topics related to data privacy and private sphere in the digital world. Starting at the Internet as one big eco-system we will also cover privacy in the context of smartphones and wearables, the Internet-of-things or cloud computing, for example.
  • Final Exam:

    Show what you have learned during the course by taking the final exam and qualify for a certificate.
  • I like, I wish:

    Here you can give us feedback for the course and propose changes.

Enroll me for this course


If you would like to enroll for this course, there are no formal prerequisites or limitations. The course is free and open for everyone. Just register for an account on openHPI and go for the course!

Enroll me now

This course was held from Feb 26, 2018 through Apr 27, 2018.

8718 learners enrolled.

Certificate Requirements


  • Gain a qualified certificate by booking it and gaining a record of achievement. Find out more in the qualified certificate guidelines.
  • Gain a record of achievement by earning more than 50% of the maximum number of points from all graded assignments.
  • Gain a confirmation of participation by completing at least 50% of the course material.

Find out more in the certificate guidelines.

This course is offered by


Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel

Professor Dr. Christoph Meinel (Univ. Prof., Dr. sc. nat., Dr. rer. nat., 1954) is Scientific Director and CEO of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Software Systems Engineering GmbH (HPI) . He is a full professor (C4) for computer science and holds a chair at HPI on Internet Technologies and Systems . His areas of research focus on future Internet technologies, in particular Information Security, Web 3.0: Semantic Web, Social and Service Web, as well as on innovative Internet applications, especially in the domains of e-learning, tele-teaching and tele-medicine. Besides, he is scientifically active in the field of innovation research Design Thinking. His earlier research work concentrated on the theoretical foundation of computer science in the areas of computational complexity and the design of efficient (OBDD-based) algorithms and data structures.

Christoph Meinel teaches in the Bachelor and Master courses in IT-Systems Engineering and at the HPI School of Design Thinking. He is honorary professor at the Computer Sciences School at Beijing University of Technology, visiting professor at Shanghai University in China, and a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) at the University of Luxembourg. Since 2008, together with Larry Leifer from Stanford University, he is program director of the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program. Since 2010, he chairs the Steering Committee of the HPI Future SOC lab .

Christoph Meinel is author/co-author of 10 books and 4 anthologies, as well as editor of various conference proceedings. More than 400 of his papers have been published in high-profile scientific journals and at international conferences. His high-security solution Lock-Keeper is internationally patented and licensed by Siemens AG. His tele-TASK system provides an innovative mobile system for recording and Internet broadcasting lectures and presentations used in many universities all-over the world. The virtual tele-lab for Internet Security provides the possibility to get hands-on experiences in practical issues of Internet and information security. The recently developed tele-Board supports remote work of creative teams.

Christoph Meinel is a member of acatech, the German academy of sciences and engineering. He is chairman of the German IPv6 council and of the advisory board of UTD Meraka in South Africa, and a member of the SAP Security Advisory Board. In 2006, he hosted together with Hasso Plattner the first German "National IT-Summit" of the German Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. From 1998 to 2002 he was the founder and CEO of the Research Lab "Institute for Telematics" in Trier. Christoph Meinel is chief editor of the scientific electronic journals ECCC - Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity and ECDTR - Electronic Colloquium on Design Thinking Research , the IT-Gipfelblog , and the tele-TASK archive.

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