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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.

19th October 2023

A Journey to Shetland

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At Cerco, customer care is not just a buzzphrase, but a deeply ingrained philosophy. We believe it to be the cornerstone of building trust and long-lasting partnerships.

Recently, our team had the unique opportunity to demonstrate our commitment during a site visit to the picturesque town of Lerwick, Shetland.

A Commitment to Excellence

Cerco has always been known for its dedication to excellence. This dedication and commitment is driven by our passion for technology and our customers’ success. Our team of highly skilled engineers is always ready to take on new challenges and deliver top-quality solutions. We pride ourselves on providing a world-class service.

The Journey to Shetland: A Unique Assignment

Cerco’s recent journey to Shetland was a unique and exciting assignment. Our team of experienced engineers, some of the best in the business, took on the task of installing Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) hardware for one of our valued customers, Fujitsu. The task was not only significant due to the importance of EPOS systems in modern businesses but also because of the remote location of the installation.

A Tale of Two Shifts: Night and Morning

The installation project was meticulously planned and executed. It involved two distinct shifts – the night shift and the morning shift.

Night Shift

The night shift, a time when most of the work was carried out, was chosen to minimise disruption to the customer’s regular operations. Cerco’s team of engineers worked throughout the night to ensure that the EPOS hardware was installed with precision and efficiency. Experience, strong communication and attention to detail are key attributes for all of our engineers.

Morning Shift

As the sun rose over Lerwick, our team transitioned into the morning shift. This phase was dedicated to testing and validation. It is during this phase that our engineers ensured that everything was working flawlessly and conducted rigorous testing to guarantee the successful operation of the hardware.

Our engineers are the heart of Cerco’s commitment to customers. The journey to Shetland reinforced their dedication to delivering quality and their unwavering attention to detail.

Customer Value and Recruitment

We’re always on the lookout for individuals who share our passion for IT to join our world-class engineering team. This dedication to excellence drives us to attract and nurture the best talent, ensuring our customers continue to receive a top-notch service.

In conclusion, Cerco’s site visit to Shetland reflects our commitment to delivering the highest standards of excellence in IT solutions and services. Our experienced engineers, the backbone of our commitment, proved that no location is too remote and no challenge is too great when it comes to satisfying our customers’ needs.

We are always ready for the next challenge, wherever it may be.

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

2nd August 2022

Cerco IT Install IT Internationally – First Stop Madrid

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Cerco IT has landed an exciting opportunity to install EPOS tills in a large multinational highstreet retailer. After successfully embarking on the UK install, Cerco IT were asked to venture over to Madrid to continue with the international EPOS overhaul.

Seven days, 12,000 square meters, 112 EPOS systems

Within one week the IT Engineers had fully fitted out the five-floor retail outlet at Gran Vía Madrid. The store, covering a surface area of 12,000 square meters (one of the largest retail stores in the world), had 119 tills which required de-installation and 112 EPOS systems to be  installed throughout the night, in time for the 9:30am opening. 

The project delivery manager commented on the successful operation “This is the largest single operation I have ever been involved with in my 7 years working for Project Services, and the most engineers I’ve ever seen on one site during my entire career. I am extremely proud of what has been achieved so far on this project, and especially the commitment of the engineers and execution at the Gran Via store.

The commitment from our partner Cerco on this project has been outstanding. Every single person who attended the store went the extra mile in assisting to complete the cutover.

The management team at Cerco have worked tirelessly and have been extremely proactive with the various aspects of their role. From securing the resources for Madrid and the UK estate, to completing all the additional admin, reporting and dealing with last minute requests.

They have always handled everything that has been thrown at them in a professional manner.

Everyone involved in the work was fully committed to getting the job done, volunteering to work throughout both shifts that were planned through the night.”

A rewarding experience for our IT Engineers

This project has been an exciting opportunity for our IT Engineers who had to overcome challenges to successfully deliver the EPOS upgrade within a demanding timeframe. 

David, one of the IT Engineers from Cerco IT commented, “When I joined Cerco IT a few months ago I knew travelling around the UK would be part of the job but I was surprised when I was asked to travel to Madrid.  What followed was a great experience working with my fellow UK engineers and our counterparts in Spain to complete what was our biggest effort in this project so far, overcoming language barriers and different work methods to complete the task.  I am very grateful for having the opportunity to travel to Madrid on this project and to get to experience this wonderful city alongside my fellow engineers.”

We’re incredibly proud of the entire team who helped make this project successful, from the employer partnership team, to the deployment team and to the IT Engineers themselves, everyone pulled together to get the job done! Next stop… Paris! 

Do you want to get involved?

Cerco IT are always on the lookout for new IT Engineers to join our team, and you don’t need experience, we offer free IT training giving you the skills you need to assist on projects just like this one. Find out if you are eligible.

18th July 2022

Meet the Cerco team at forthcoming Military events and job fairs

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We’re thrilled to announce a few forthcoming events that our Cerco ‘roadshow’ team will be attending.

If you are interested in transitioning into a career in IT, then this is the perfect opportunity for you to discuss your aspirations with our team.

photo of armed forces regulars

Stoke on Trent – 18th August 2022

Come and meet us at the Ex-Services Armed Forces Hub that taks place at Port Vale FC on Thursday 18th August.

Leeds – 22nd September 2022

Come and join us at the Northern Employment Fair in Leeds on the 22nd September. For more information visit the CTP website.

Southampton – 6th October 2022

We will be exhibiting at the South Coast Employment Fair on the 6th October. Come and say hello between 10am and 2pm. For more information visit the CTP website.

Newark – 10th November 2022

On the 10th November we will be in Newark at the East Midlands Employment fair. Once again this is the perfect opportunity to discuss a career in IT from Field Service Engineers to Network Support to Cyber Security. For more information visit the CTP website.

If you are unable to attend any of the events listed then please take a look at how we support HM Forces service leavers. We’re always on hand to answer any queries and advise on how our training programmes will assist in your transition into a career in IT.

If you have a reasonably technical background and a particular interest in Cyber Security, it could be that you are able to jump straight into our Cyber training. Please take a look at our Cyber training programme, Cradle to Cyber.

For any further queries you can always reach out to us. We’re here to help.

8th July 2022

Cerco’s Cradle to Cyber programme yields its first graduates

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Building on top of 30+ years of experience in IT training and placing entry level server engineers and technicians, Cerco IT, in 2021, developed a programme to address the alarming shortfall in the UK’s Cyber Security talent pool.

According to the UK Government there is an estimated short fall of 10,000 Cyber Security
professionals per year in the UK recruitment pool

The phantom menace

Photo credit: Richard Patterson

Perhaps when we think of ‘hackers’ we conjure an image of a socially awkward teenager in a dark room, dressed in a hoodie and surrounded by glowing monitors. To a certain degree this may be accurate but the problem is much worse than this somewhat simplistic, almost romantic vignette may suggest.

The greater threat comes from state sponsored activity that operates on such a large scale it is almost unfathomable.

Web sites present the most obvious vulnerability

Once upon a time it was important just to have a website. If you had the budget you’d hire a specialist web design agency. If you didn’t, or, worse still, you considered it a mere gimick to keep up with, you may have handed responsibility to your nephew in his bedroom. As eminently capable as either of these developers was they couldn’t have foreseen the threat that lay ahead which in turn didn’t accurately inform them of the correct technical decisions to make.

Regardless of the underlying technology, many websites have developed and evolved over the last 20 – 25 years to the point where they require teams of people to maintain. Server technology evolves as do network capabilities and encryption methods. But sat beneath many websites is a code base that hasn’t been overhauled in years. To a hacker with determination these websites are little more than playgrounds.

Sensitive data may be residing within insecure databases whose front door is left wide open by poor coding. User input via a web form may be injected straight into a database query with little or no sanitisation. This was quite common 20 years ago but in 2022 it is unforgivable.

A perfectly viable question to ask is, how well do you know your website and its underlying technology?

But a far more damaging question would be, how well does a hacker with nefarious intent know your website and underlying technology?

Communication breakdown

If you were so inclined you could construct a diagram that illustrates exactly how information is handled on your network. This may be a network local to your business premises (LAN) or a wider network that links numerous premises (WAN). Ideally of course you would already have this diagram and would review it periodically for improvement and maintenance purposes.

This visualisation is precisely what a hacker is attempting to achieve. Where are your weaknesses? Where might there be a hub that requires configuration? e.g. a firewall.

Requests that are routed through your network may not have always come from a legitimate source. With the correct tools and a keen eye you can respond to such threats. But far better is to identify the weak links in your network configuration before anyone from the outside has had chance to exploit them.

To a hacker bent on maximum disruption a vulnerable network is as good as the door to the bank vault blowing freely in the wind.

A solution

Unsurprisingly the attack methods that we have touched upon have numerous names. Collectively we refer to this scenario as the attack or threat surface. Essentially, where can I gain access to your system and wreak havoc.

Each of these nefarious attack methods is a form of penetration and the discipline of identifying vulnerabilities is known as penetration testing.

Penetration testers are a huge part of the 10,000 per year shortfall in the cyber security talent pool.

At Cerco IT we take candidates from all walks of life with a background in IT and passion for security and train them to be penetration testers.

Many of our trainees have worked with us before as Field Service Engineers. Many have come to us from employers looking to strengthen their security teams. And many have come to us from a position within the UK Armed Forces. In fact our relationship with numerous Armed Forces charities and our recognition as a Silver Covenant Award winner for our commitment to those leaving service is something were are immensly proud of.

Via our training partner, Merimetso, themselves former GCHQ employees, we train our candidates to the CyberScheme standard. Specifically, the CyberScheme Team Member standard.

Our fully trained and passionate penetration testers already posses numerous skills and accreditations. Here are just a few:

  • EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker certification
  • All legal aspects of Ethical Hacking
  • Kali
  • The pentester’s toolbox: NMAP, Metasploit, NetCat, SQLMap etc
  • The OSI Model, TCP/IP and UDP, wireless networking
  • CompTIA Network +, Pentest +, Security +
  • Military Threat Intelligence
  • Microsoft MTA: Security Fundamentals
  • Windows Server Administration Fundamentals
  • Azure Data Fundamentals
  • Python, C, C++, PHP, JavaScript
  • Prince2 Practitioner
  • Relational Database Administration (Oracle, Microsoft)
  • Cerco Certificate in Systems & Networking (CCSN)
  • Windows, Mac OS and Linux operating systems

Next steps

If you are looking to strengthen your Cyber Security team and are interested in hiring hungry and freshly trained talent with today’s crucially relevant skills, please do contact us.

We’d be more than happy to schedule a call with you either via a traditional landline or through MS Teams.

You can read more about our Cradle to Cyber programme within our brochure.

We hope to speak with you soon and help you protect your business from the phantom menace.