Role-based training

Critical Knowledge

Be better equipped to hire, upskill, and retain more cybersecurity and cyber-enabled talent with N2K’s Critical Knowledge program.


Course Overview

Critical Knowledge provides a better way for leaders to identify and develop cybersecurity talent. This online program serves as a comprehensive training and development roadmap for multiple job roles within cybersecurity.

The curriculum spans six units that range from foundational to advanced cybersecurity topics, covering networking fundamentals, types of attacks, network security, security engineering, GRC, and security operations. Units are modular in design so participants can digest all or specific topics that are most relevant to their current or aspirational position. 


There are no formal prerequisites. Having basic knowledge or background experience in IT or security is a plus, but not required.

Related Courses

The breadth of the Critical Knowledge program gives participants a launchpad into a career path that best suits their skills and interests. After completing the program, learners can take advantage of N2K’s comprehensive certification or role-based training courses to achieve their career goals. Leaders can also leverage N2K’s robust curriculum to develop a strategic training plan for their workforce.



Who should take Critical Knowledge?

Critical Knowledge is a dynamic course designed for both new or seasoned  IT security personnel. Individuals in the following roles are excellent candidates for this course. 

  • Entry-level cybersecurity talent to help achieve the desired baseline of skills
  • IT professionals transitioning to cybersecurity who want to build on their technical experience in a new field
  • Experienced cybersecurity professionals who want to shift their careers to another field within cybersecurity
  • Professionals with non-technical backgrounds entering cybersecurity

Benefits of Training

There are a number of benefits to taking the Critical Knowledge course, but a few highlights include:

  • Implement more effective hiring and career development strategies
  • Quickly identify and develop KSA strengths and weaknesses for multiple cyber roles
  • Gain a more holistic view of the cybersecurity ecosystem and its unique subgroups

case study

Role & Skill Mapping of 400+ Workforce for Fortune 100 Tech Company

Course Outline

Critical Knowledge is broken down into six units, beginning with foundational IT and cybersecurity topics then advances into more technical and operative subject matter.  Click on the sections below to see the expanded topic areas within each unit.

  • Review foundational concepts on networking and computing principles, network functions, and potential vulnerabilities.


    • Network Fundamentals
    • Data Transmission Protocols
    • Application-level Protocols

    Lab Exercises:

    • Wireshark HTTP data export
    • ARP poisoning attacks
    • Wireshark analysis on the decrypted HTTP data
  • Identify and define the different types of cyber attacks and vulnerabilities.


    • Attack Lifecycle
    • Authentication Attacks
    • DoS Attacks
    • Injection Attacks
    • Malware
    • Layer 1+2 Attacks

    Lab Exercises:

    • NMAP scan and results interpretation
    • Password cracking using Hashcat
    • PCAP analysis of SYN flood
    • SQL injection against a web server
    • Use virustotal tool and interpret results
    • Run Aircrack-ng and interpret results
  • Understand how to defend a network through various devices and techniques.


    • Security Components
    • Network Security

    Lab Exercises:

    • Run Yara scan
    • Wireshark VLAN PCAP analysis
  • Understand additional technical security defenses, security frameworks, and protocols.


    • Encryption
    • Identity and Access Management
    • Secure Coding

    Lab Exercises:

    • Run PGP encryption process
    • Directory Server scan
    • Vulnerable code identification
  • Review different risk management principles, laws and regulations, and business continuity planning.


    • Risk Management Principles
    • Compliance Principles

    Lab Exercises:

    • Recommend controls based on scenario
    • Identify relevant legal frameworks
  • Gain perspective on the function of security operations that upholds organizational security posture.


    • Security Operations Principles
    • Incidence Response Principles
    • Cloud Security

    Lab Exercises:

    • CVE scan + analysis
    • /var/log analysis to identify attack details
    • AWS S3 bucket vulnerability analysis
This course includes:
  • 6 Total Learning Units
  • 19 Learning Modules
  • 19 Hands-On Lab Exercises*
  • 19 Lab Walkthrough Videos
  • 130 On-Demand Video Lessons
  • 92 Knowledge Check Questions
  • 150 Pages of Downloadable Summary Notes
  • Individual and Managerial Performance Tracker
  • (Optional) Live Online Sessions
*Labs provided by CyberSkyline

“N2K has been an excellent education partner. In this case, the term ‘partner’ is meaningful and not an alternative for ‘vendor.’”

Chris Bridge, Palo Alto Networks

Why N2K?

We know that you and your organization have several options to choose from when it comes to workforce development. This is what separates N2K from the pack.


Measure improvements with robust performance analytics


Build the right knowledge and skills specific to roles


Foster long-term retention without wasting time on cramming


Total costs average 50% less per person compared to the leading bootcamp

Request Pricing

Critical Knowledge FAQs

  • Developed by NIST, the NICE Framework includes seven categories of cybersecurity-related competencies. While not directly correlated to the NICE Framework, the Critical Knowledge curriculum was developed by N2K with proprietary research in collaboration with multiple organizations to best facilitate learning for people who have various backgrounds in cybersecurity. The result is a detailed taxonomy outlining key knowledge, skills, abilities, and tasks (KSATs) and a clear training methodology for actual cybersecurity job roles.

  • Completing the entire Critical Knowledge program gives learners a more holistic view of the cybersecurity ecosystem that is beneficial to any role regardless of experience. Critical Knowledge can be condensed into select units to fit the unique roles or requirements of an organization. Consult with N2K Account Executive to learn more about our Professional Services.

  • While course units and subject matter may align with the objectives of select industry certifications, Critical Knowledge is not intended for exam preparation. However, after completing Critical Knowledge, participants have the baseline knowledge necessary to prepare for a number of certifications based on their background and interests. Click here to learn more about N2K’s Certify course options.

  • We understand each organization has unique requirements and business goals. N2K’s robust cybersecurity curriculum for each course is modular in design to make training relevant and easily configurable to suit various workforce needs. Consult with a N2K Account Executive to learn more about our Professional Services.

  • Yes! Participants receive a digital badge once they have successfully completed the course. This badge can be displayed on social profiles or email signatures. Click here to learn more about N2K’s digital badging.