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8th December 2023

Securing a job in Cybersecurity with Cerco and the Fortinet Network Security Expert Training and Certification Programme – Year 1 of 2

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If you have a passion for computing and have long held fascination with Cybersecurity, Cerco’s Cradle to Cyber presents the perfect pathway through training into employment.

With Cradle to Cyber we have designed a two year training programme that leads you through basic IT training, temporary employment, continuous learning (via the Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) Training and Certification programme) into permanent employment.

In this post we explore the first year of Cradle to Cyber.


Cerco’s long-standing practical training course, FastTrack, is your entry point to Cradle to Cyber.

FastTrack is an in-house, practical training course spanning five days. FastTrack is free to attend.

Among the areas that are covered are:

  • Health and safety / electrostatic discharge
  • PC hardware connections, memory and data storage
  • The ROM BIOS & CMOS set-up
  • Windows installation and configuration
  • Command line
  • Network Topology, Standards, Hubs, Switches and Routers
  • Windows Networking, Domains and Configuration
  • Wireless networking
  • TCP / IP Networking
  • Routing, DHCP, Connectivity
  • Troubleshooting
  • Logical fault finding/troubleshooting
  • Printer installation in Windows

With FastTrack we have crafted a level of training that perfectly maps onto our client’s requirements for their Field Engineering requirements. Upon successful completion of the course we will aim to place you out to work on a temporary basis. This forms the perfect environment for continuous learning alongside your employment.

During your employment we will introduce you to the next phase of your training: Fortinet Certified Fundamentals.

Fortinet Certified Fundamentals (FCF)

Fortinet Certified Fundamentals is self-paced and platform agnostic.

The Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) Training and Certification programme is a globally renowned training programme that perfectly prepares you for developing a career in Cybersecurity. At each stage you will explore various aspects of Network Security which in turn helps you to identify the pathway that best suits your aspirations and skills.

Introduction to the Threat Landscape

The first module, Introduction to the Threat Landscape, is a core module and introduces you to a wealth of Cybersecurity terminology and considerations.

You begin your journey by understanding precisely what Cybersecurity is and the importance of protecting information, data and system access.

Throughout the introduction you will gain a firm understanding of Threat Actors, Attack Vectors and common vulnerabilities.

You will also gain an understanding of how Threat Intelligence plays a key role in identifying, solving and preventing future attacks.

The final phase of Introduction to the Threat Landscape deals with the increasing threat surrounding Social Engineering and the risk of Malware.

You will quickly understand that threats to corporate data are present everywhere and that human behaviour and vigilance are crucial to a sound security framework.

Technical Introduction to Cybersecurity

Following the Introduction to the Threat Landscape you will dive deep into the technicalities of Cybersecurity.

This is a self-paced course and covers some key areas, such as:

  • Cryptography and the Public Key Infrastructure
  • Components of a Secure Network
  • Authentication and Access Control
  • Secure Remote Access
  • Endpoint Security

Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for securing communication and data from adversaries.

You will develop an understanding of hashing, algorithms, ciphers, keys, signatures and Public Key Infrastructure.

Public Key Infrastructure is a framework that manages digital keys and certificates, providing a secure way to exchange information over insecure networks such as the Internet. PKI is built on asymmetric key cryptography and includes such things as certificate signing for use on a website.

Upon completion of Technical Introduction to Cybersecurity you will have a solid understanding of the practices employed to secure communications over public and private networks.

Fortinet Networking Fundamentals (FNF)

Fortinet Networking Fundamentals is a self-paced, platform agnostic course. Unlike FCF and FCA, this course is not certificated and does not form a part of the NSE programme. You will however receive a printable certificate to mark the course’s completion.

Throughout this course you will gain a firm knowledge of the essentials of network communication and a thorough understanding of computer networking.

Central to Fortinet Networking Fundamentals is the concept of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) Reference Model.

By understanding the OSI Model you will be able to identify each stage of data transfer as well as the construction of data packets and how they are managed.

Key modules within FNF that you will explore:

  • OSI Reference Model
  • LAN Basics
  • TCP/IP Internet Layer
  • Networking Devices (Bridges, Switches, Routers, Hubs etc)
  • TCP/IP Suite
  • VLAN Design
  • Internetworking Fundamentals
  • Virtualisation and Cloud

Regardless of the direction that you take in your Cybersecurity journey, FNF provides a strong, vital and platform agnostic foundation for understanding how information is constructed, delivered and managed across a wide range of network structures.

Fortinet Certified Associate (FCA)

Fortinet Certified Associate is a self-paced, certificated course that forms a crucial stage in the NSE programme by introducing you to Fortinet’s suite of security appliances including firewall, virtual private network (VPN), antivirus, intrusion prevention and web filtering. These security appliances are collectively referred to as FortiGate.

Fortigate 7.4 Operator

The concepts of configuration, policy and access are central to FortiGate. Upon successful completion of FCA you will have a broad understanding of the following disciplines:

  • Configuring Interfaces and Routing
  • Firewall Policies
  • Authenticating Network Users
  • Inspect SSL Traffic
  • Blocking Malware
  • Control Web Access Using Web Filtering
  • Configuring the FortiGate Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
  • Controlling Applications Access
  • Creating IPsec Virtual Private Networks
  • Configuring FortiGate SSL VPN
  • FortiGate System Maintenance and Monitoring
  • Configuring the Fortinet Security Fabric

FortiGate appliances are available in various models to cater to different-sized organisations and network requirements, ranging from small businesses to large enterprises. The FortiGate platform is a key component of Fortinet’s broader security ecosystem, which includes other products and services aimed at providing comprehensive Cybersecurity solutions.

FortiGate devices act as firewalls, inspecting and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on an organisation’s established security rules.

VPN functionality allows organisations to create secure connections over the internet, enabling remote users to connect to a central network, securely.

A key feature of FortiGate appliances is their ability to detect and prevent various types of network-based attacks through an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS).

IPS provides an additional layer of defence beyond traditional firewalls.

With its integrated Security Fabric, Fortinet’s wide range of products are able to work together and share threat intelligence to further enhance overall security.

On completion of Fortinet Certified Associate you will be in a fantastic position to explore a pathway into a specific Cybersecurity role with Fortinet Certified Professional. We will also look to provide you with a higher level of temporary employment. e.g. 2nd Line Support Technician.

In another blog post we will explore Fortinet Certified Professional in some more detail.

How much does Cradle to Cyber training cost?

Cerco FastTrack

Cerco’s FastTrack training is free to attend.

FastTrack is a 5-day course held at our training facility in Crewe, Cheshire. Although the course is free to attend you may need to consider accommodation and travel costs.

We can help you to identify a reasonably priced hotel. Parking at Cerco is free. Alternatively, we are situated a 10 minute walk from Crewe Train Station.

Fortinet NSE Training and Certification

The first stages of the Fortinet NSE Training and Certification programme are free to sit. All NSE training is self-paced and carried out online. Exams for Fortinet Certified Fundamentals and Fortinet Certified Associate are performed as part of the online training and are free to sit as many times as required.

9th November 2023

Empowering women and military spouses to enter the world of IT and Cybersecurity

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Cerco has been on a mission to bridge the gap between untapped talent and the IT sector since 1989. Furthermore, we have always believed in the importance of diversity and inclusion within an industry that may suffer the perception of being a male-only environment.

Through our continuing support for the Armed Forces community, Cerco is also ideally placed to provide support to Veterans and Military Spouses looking to build a career in IT and beyond into the world of Cybersecurity.

The Standing Tall Foundation

Through our partnership with The Standing Tall Foundation, Cerco is committed to making a difference to those who may deem the world of IT out of reach.

Founded by Corporal Andy Reid MBE and John Tabern, The Standing Tall Foundation has been actively supporting veterans and members of the St. Helens community since March 2020.

Despite the unprecedented backdrop of COVID and lockdown, the foundation continued to thrive and Cerco is honoured to be a part of their journey.

Cerco supports the foundation’s mission by providing opportunities to individuals who have faced adversity in their lives. Through this collaboration, Cerco aims to boost the confidence and skills of those who may be hesitant to embark on a career in IT.

The Armed Forces Community

Cerco’s dedication to the Armed Forces community was recognised in 2022 with the awarding of the Gold Award by the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme. This recognition signifies our strong commitment to employing veterans, spouses and reservists, offering flexibility to accommodate their service commitments, and providing unwavering support.

Empowering Military Spouses and Women in IT and Cybersecurity

Cerco’s commitment doesn’t end with supporting veterans; it extends to their families as well. Military spouses often face unique challenges due to the demands of military life. Cerco has joined forces with Fortinet’s Fortivets scheme to provide opportunities and support for military spouses looking to enter the IT field. To this end we are proud to be included within the Fortinet Veterans Advisory Council as of September 2023.

Cerco understands the importance of gender diversity in the IT and technology sectors. We are resolute in introducing more women to this dynamic field through structured training programs. This initiative is vital in bridging the gender gap in technology-related careers and creating a more inclusive environment.

In summary, Cerco is not just a training and recruitment company. We are committed to creating a more inclusive and diverse IT landscape. Through our partnership with The Standing Tall Foundation, dedication to the Armed Forces community, and focus on empowering military spouses and women in IT and Cybersecurity we aim to have a profound impact on individuals, families, and the industry as a whole.

5th October 2023

Cerco joins the Fortinet Veterans Program Advisory Council

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It is with tremendous pride that Cerco is able to announce its membership within the Fortinet Veterans Program Advisory Council.

On 25th and 26th September 2023, our CEO Chris Barlow and Head of Cyber Security Training, Mark Wilcox, attended the inaugural meeting of the council in Toronto, Canada.

Building upon its relationship with Fortinet as an Education Outreach Partner, Cerco joins a global panel of esteemed members from organisations supporting the military veterans community.

Military veterans possess crucial skills in tackling the continuing fight against cyber crime but often lack access to or guidance with training and career resources. The net result is that transition from military life to a career in cybersecurity is problematic and confusing. 

Fortinet have identified this and addressed it by augmenting their Veterans Program with an Advisory Council.

The Fortinet Veterans Program Advisory Council exists to achieve the following:

  • provide military veterans with a clear pathway through cybersecurity training and certification
  • present military veterans with career opportunities within cybersecurity

In the United States, Fortinet has been recognised as a VETS Indexes Recognised Employer. VETS Indexes further supports those companies who actively support the hiring and professional development of military veterans. 

Here in the UK a similar scheme exists to support those companies training and sourcing employment opportunities for our armed forces veterans. This scheme, established by the UK Government, is called the Armed Forces Covenant and Cerco has been recognised as a Gold Member for its services to the armed forces community.

Cerco’s established training initiative, Cradle to Cyber, perfectly lends itself to the professional development of military personnel looking for a career in cybersecurity.

Cradle to Cyber has been established to present an entryway into IT and provides a range of training that begins with Cerco’s long-standing, in-house FastTrack course. For those wishing to pursue a career in cybersecurity we extend this training to encompass certification from CompTIA, Microsoft, ITIL and ISACA, amongst others. 

Crucially, Fortinet’s Network Security Expert (NSE) certification program sits central to Cradle to Cyber. By progressing through the 5 key stages of NSE, learners will gain vital knowledge in working with the solutions provided by the global leader in cybersecurity. 

For more information on how Cerco and Fortinet can support your transition from military service please reach out to us today.

View the press release from Fortinet: Fortinet Announces Formation of Veterans Program Advisory Council to Narrow the Cybersecurity Skills Gap with Military Veteran Talent

15th August 2023

Experience Can Be Great, But It’s Not Everything: The “Entry Level” Paradox

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Entry level SOC analyst wanted – minimum 5 years of experience required. Sound familiar? This all-too-common scenario is damaging to prospective candidates and recruitment teams alike and does nothing to help deal with the shortfall of required cyber security professionals in the U.K. If this issue is to be rectified, we need to reassess the way we recruit for these roles and change our thinking around what can offer the most value to a cyber security workforce.

The ever-broadening digital landscape has meant a rapid expansion in all areas of Cyber Security and as the demand for skilled professionals continues to surge, the value of experience cannot be denied. However, it’s essential to recognize that experience, while valuable, is not the sole determinant of success in this industry.

Experience undoubtedly brings a lot to the table, not least of all, demonstrable know-how in the relevant field. Yet, focusing solely on experience can inadvertently limit opportunities for growth, diversity and fresh perspectives, whilst creating a barrier that makes the industry impenetrable for all but a lucky few. Maybe it’s time to adopt a more well-rounded approach to recruitment, that considers more than just how long somebody has worked in their field.

Instead of offering a salary of £50k for a level 2 SOC Analyst, why not attach a more junior salary, whilst nurturing and developing fresh talent with the relevant qualifications and promote from within? That 6 months spent looking for a unicorn who could meet all of the criteria for a role, could have been spent giving someone their first months of experience and growing them into the best candidate for that role, who already works within the company ethos.

The IT and cybersecurity landscape is multifaceted, with a range of specializations, from network security to ethical hacking. Relying solely on experience will lead to a lack of exposure to emerging trends, training and technologies. Combining experienced professionals with those who bring diverse skills and backgrounds can foster greater innovation and creativity within teams.

Professionals who demonstrate a thirst for continuous learning and a willingness to adapt can often bring fresh insights to complex problems. A newcomer with a solid foundation and a passion for staying current can contribute just as much as someone with years of experience. Soft skills are also not a given when it comes to experience and whilst technical proficiency is crucial, problem-solving abilities, effective communication, teamwork, and adaptability are equally important.

Another drawback of relying solely on experience when considering hiring needs is that it could well inadvertently perpetuate a lack of diversity within the sector. Embracing candidates from different backgrounds and experiences can lead to a more inclusive work environment and a broader range of perspectives, ultimately allowing for forward movement and enhancing innovation.

Experience is undoubtedly a valuable asset when considering recruitment needs, however, it’s crucial to recognize that it’s not the sole indicator of potential success. A blend of diverse skills, a commitment to continuous learning and a focus on problem-solving and soft skills can lead to well-rounded teams that thrive in the ever-evolving Cybersecurity field. By embracing a more holistic approach to hiring, both employers and job seekers can navigate the opportunities in these sectors with confidence that they are futureproofing against the very real cyber threat.

14th July 2023

Growing Cyber Security Threats in the UK: The Perfect Time to Enter the Cyber Defence Industry

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In recent times the United Kingdom, much like the rest of the world, has seen an alarming rise in the number of cyber threats that pose a significant risk to its citizens, businesses and national security. Indeed, it seems as though each new news cycle brings details of a high-profile companies’ data being compromised or mass phishing attacks being set loose on tech consumers. This is a concerning trend and only seems to further demonstrate the necessity of a robust cyber security workforce to maintain a vigilant watch over the UK’s digital landscape.

From state-sponsored attacks to ransomware campaigns and identity theft, malicious groups and individuals are exploiting our digital vulnerabilities at an unprecedented rate. As organisations across a host of sectors are coming to understand the importance of cyber security, there has been a significant rise in the demand for well trained and skilled professionals to cover all lines of defence.

The UK government, private companies and even non-profit organisations are actively investing in cyber security measures and personnel to fortify their defences. This presents an ideal opportunity for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the ever-evolving world of cyber security.

The cyber security skills gap is only growing wider, so individuals with the drive to learn new skills and succeed in the industry can expect to join an industry with near limitless scope for progression and development. From government incentivised schemes, to industry leading career plans such as Cerco Ltd’s Cradle to Cyber programme, there are a host of opportunities for those who are wanting to make an impact in the world of Cyber. With the demand for professionals surpassing the available supply, job opportunities are abundant and with the threat of cyber crime ever increasing, there is an abundance of advancement potential.

With the rising demand for skilled professionals, attractive career prospects, and the chance to contribute to national security, now is the perfect moment to enter this field. By acquiring the necessary skills, staying updated with the latest cybersecurity trends, and capitalizing on the available resources and training programs, aspiring cyber defenders can build a rewarding and impactful career while protecting the UK’s digital space.