Monday, 29 February 2016

2016's Cyber Security skills gap

 By Sarah Morgan


The growing IT skills gap and its implications for the global economy is a known issue throughout the industry. It’s the net result of an industry outpacing the supply of professionals needed to facilitate employer demand, effectively stifling growth. Cyber security is an area within IT where the demand for professionals continues to grow. This is due to greater number and publicity of cyber-attacks on all businesses. If not addressed, implications could be serious with attacks likely to continue to grow in frequency and severity.

ISACA are makers of major security courses like the Certified Cybersecurity Practitioner CSX, CISA, CISM and CRISC, and they’ve recently produced an infographic that has revealed some interesting and eye-opening statistics. These statistics have come from surveys conducted by ISACA themselves, as well as IBM’s 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study, UK House of Lords Digital Skills Committee and more. As providers of certifications to cyber security professionals, ISACA are using these statistics to help close the gap where the crucial IT security skills are most needed, as well as increase awareness about the skills shortages. Below, is a breakdown of each stat highlighted by ISACA and their individual and collective implications on the IT industry. Make sure you check out the ISACA infographic at the bottom of the post.

The costs of the cyber security skills gap


In 2014, $1 billion worth of personally identifiable information (PII) was stolen. This means there have been many more stolen since, through 2015 and beyond. As large as this figure is, more unidentifiable records that cannot be traced are highly likely to have been stolen too. This marks a huge amount of money stolen from businesses and economies. On top of this, there are the costs beyond money, like the breach of a customer’s privacy. This type of cost can mean stolen passwords, accounts, addresses, phone numbers or credit card details. These damages can cause loss of personal finance, credit card fraud or even identity fraud. Combined, this shows how cyber security threats are heavily draining businesses and individuals. 

Unfortunately, the severity of these financial implications appears to be increasing. It is estimated $150 million will be the average cost of a data breach by 2020. This is roughly £107 million. The 2015 average in the UK was £1.46 million, more than doubling the 2014 figure of £600,000.This staggering figure, as well as the soaring increase, shows the need to increase security in all businesses, now. Technology and hacking techniques are continuing to advance and if your security is not sufficient and updated, you could be left vulnerable. The huge figure, as well as it’s meteoric rise, forces business managers to take company-wide action, rather than dumping the burden entirely onto IT departments.

97% of security professionals surveyed in ISACA’s 2015 APT study believe advanced persistent threats (APTs) represent a credible threat to national security and economic stability. These opinions come from knowledgeable professionals within the security industry, which is reason enough to take notice of this imminent and serious threat to our businesses and economy. Many businesses ignorantly and naively settle for sub-par IT security systems, but every business is a potential target and if you are not prepared, the consequences could be crippling.

The regularity of cyber security breaches


In the same ISACA survey, professionals from 1 in 4 organisations have experienced an APT attack. This shows the regularity of cyber attacks, as well as how widespread they now are. It’s also worth mentioning that 3 in 4 organisations also believe they will be targeted in the near future, again reiterating how every business needs to be aware and prepared for cyber attacks.

1 in 2 believe the IT security department is unaware of all of the organisations Internet of Things (IOT) devices and 74% believe the likelihood of an organisation being hacked through IOT devices is high or medium. In our increasingly connected world, there are connectivity capabilities on a staggering amount of devices, in our business and personal lives. All of these devices have the potential to become avenues that hackers can target to infiltrate a business. It is important for everyone in the company to be aware of the potential security risks, especially the IT department.


Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


The need for cyber security professionals


2 million will be the number of cyber security professionals the industry will be short of by 2019. Numbers are often bandied about to estimate the number of cyber security professionals needed in the cyber security sector, and it’s difficult to determine the exact demand in the UK. However, it’s clear that 2 million reflects the trend in the current cyber security jobs market and is a worrying size considering the severity of threats. In the EMEA region, stats from (ISC)² estimate there will be 1.2 million cyber security roles that are constrained by a lack of supply in the industry. 

The growth of demand for cyber security professionals is 3x the growth of the overall IT jobs market. On top of this, when compared to the overall jobs market, that stat grows to 12x. Also, a study from US New and World Report states that demand for cyber security professionals is growing at a rate of 36.5% through to 2022. 

Looking slightly deeper in the cyber security jobs market, 64% of organisations believe just half or fewer of applicants for open security jobs are qualified. This highlights how the jobs market has become stagnant for employers due to the cyber security skills gap. At the bottom of this scale, many business are having to settle for candidates that aren’t good enough. A potential side effect is that professionals in the industry don’t have the skills to properly protect their business.


How can we develop more cyber security skills?


53% of organisations experience delays as long as 6 months to find qualified security candidates. This means it’s becoming more difficult, costly and time-consuming to find the right cyber security skills for employers to protect their business and assets. One avenue through which the skills gap can be closed is Apprenticeships. The UK government is heavily investing in cyber security, with Chancellor George Osbourne promising an extra £1.9 billion by 2020. Much of this investment will fund two new cyber security focused apprenticeships, the Cyber Security Professional and Cyber Security Analyst. Offered by Firebrand, these trailblazer apprenticeships are an excellent avenue to upskill staff, unrestricted by age limitations. 

89% of consumers believe it is important for organisations to have cyber security certified employees. Another side effect of cyber security gaining more attention, is consumers becoming more aware of its importance. Customers are recognising it’s vital for businesses to have certified cyber security professionals. By getting your security employees certified, not only will they learn and demonstrate more advanced skills, customers will recognise, value and appreciate the extra commitment to cyber security. This is another eye-opener to how important cyber security certifications are, and from a source you probably didn’t expect.

77% of women said that no teacher or careers advisor mentioned cyber security as a career – for men it’s 67%. The lack of women in IT has been a trend for much longer than the cyber security skills gap. It’s clear that the cause of this goes far deeper into society and change starts with giving children the opportunity and encouragement to get valuable IT skills at an early age. The 67% figure for men, shows the problem is not unique to women. The root of the issue is that IT security is not taught in the school curriculum. This causes children, and their teachers too, to be unaware that cyber security is a career choice – one with excellent prospects. 


What’s the solution?


The first step to help close the cyber security skills gap, is for government and business leaders to realise the dangers that the skills gap presents. Thankfully, this is starting to happen. Back in November 2015 Chancellor George Osbourne announced that the UK government was planning to invest £1.9 billion into cyber security. This type of commitment needs to continue, with business leaders and managers investing in cyber security training. This is important to give cyber security professionals the skills they need to properly protect businesses from cyber attacks. If these skills are in place throughout the UK, attacks will be prevented and the numbers reduced.

Also, the structure of education around cyber security needs to change. If the government were to introduce cyber security as part of the curriculum, it would encourage more children to choose cyber security careers. The government must continue to increase their investment into cyber security apprenticeships. This would encourage more young people and businesses to undertake apprenticeships, developing skills and successful cyber security careers. Finally, general awareness needs to increase around cyber security. This would help people take more steps to help prevent cyber attacks. These actions would change the culture of dusting cyber security under the carpet, and getting more skilled cyber security professionals into the industry to protect our businesses and economy.




About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

Microsoft reaches landmark deal with Xamarin

 By Sarah Morgan

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced their latest major business move - acquiring Xamarin, an industry leading mobile app development company. Having previously had a long-standing working relationship with Xamarin, this deal makes the next step in allowing Microsoft to make Xamarin their sole partners in mobile app development. Building on their cross-platform vision.


Image courtesy of Microsoft the Microsoft Blog

Who are Xamarin?


Xamarin’s mobile app specialities give developers the ability to code mobile apps in one language across iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices. Its customers, totaling around 15,000, boast names like Coca Cola, the US Air Force, UK Parliament, Bosch Siemens and more. Plus, Xamarin have been at the forefront of mobile app development for some time, creating testing methods for developers in the cloud. Xamarin were named as one of the “9 startups that run the internet” by UK Business Insider in December 2015.


Why this makes sense for Microsoft


The primary aim for Microsoft in this deal is to advance its development of a cross-platform vision. Providing an outstanding and consistent experience across all of it devices, in unison with Windows 10. As Microsoft has previously worked closely with Xamarin, the deal is a natural progression for both parties, giving them both great potential for growth.

Microsoft has been working relentlessly on growing their presence in the mobile sector. This acquisition is a landmark moment that could see their mobile app development capabilities improve significantly. Already a market leader, the skills and abilities Xamarin add to Microsoft, have the potential to establish their mobile app dominance.


About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 


Monday, 15 February 2016

The 25 hottest skills to target in 2016

 By Sarah Morgan


If you work in IT, chances are, you have a profile on the world’s largest professional networking platform, LinkedIn. Over at LinkedIn HQ, the Data Analysts have been hard at work collecting and analysing data from some 400 million members. The end result is a list of the 25 hottest skills in 2015 as found in LinkedIn.

This list has produced some interesting results. We have been talking about the growing demand for IT skills being on the rise for some time, but LinkedIn’s list quantifies the rise in a global and market-wide context. These skills have been measured throughout 2015, including the end of the year, meaning that many of these skills will continue to trend into 2016 and beyond.





What’s new?


Looking at the global list, most striking is the entry of cloud as the most in demand skill in 2015, a skill not present in the 2014 list. IT related skills dominate the list with 19 out of the 25 being IT focused. Thus, solidifying IT skills as the best to target acquiring in 2016.

Aside from IT, demand for skills in areas including marketing, and corporate law and governance also feature.


The rise of cloud technology


As mentioned, the most significant addition to LinkedIn’s 2015 list is cloud and distributed computing skills – entering the list at the top position. It’s safe to say that 2015 was the year of the cloud. Furthermore, 2016 is shaping up to be just as fruitful for those with cloud skills.

Cloud technology has become important to so many businesses, and along with this trend, skills to migrate to and maintain cloud platforms have become highly sought after. This move towards the cloud is driven by businesses looking to make their servers cheaper to run, more flexible, more accessible and more recoverable. Businesses now require specialists in their chosen platforms like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and HP Cloud. As cloud skills are still in short supply, those with the requisite skills are in high demand.

Cloud technology is not so new that it wasn’t around in 2014. The reason why it makes its list debut in 2015, is there simply weren’t enough people on LinkedIn with cloud skills for it to make the 2014 list. This perfectly highlights the shortage of cloud skills. This means getting these skills with certification courses like Microsoft MCSE: Private Cloud, Microsoft MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect, (ISC)² Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) and MCSA: Linux on Azure will make you a valuable asset to your business or potential employer.


Dominance of IT skills


Having touched upon the dominance of IT skills in LinkedIn’s list, it is also the variety of these IT skills that is interesting. They range from the aforementioned cloud technology, to network and information security, to coding and scripting languages like Perl, Python, Ruby and Java. These skills, in conjunction with others, cover the entire spectrum of IT and development skills, which means this rise is not an anomaly - the industry is growing as a whole.

It’s also important to mention data in IT. As the top skill in 2014, it has carried over well into 2015 and early 2016 in the second position. This demonstrates the continued importance of data in business and beyond. Being able to manage and analyse data are vital skills that businesses require. For example, the role of Data Scientist was hailed as the hottest job title in 2015. The skill also consistently ranks highly among all the countries LinkedIn analysed.


Make the most of the need


It’s important to remember that each of the skills in LinkedIn’s list has massive potential because of the value to employers and for the growth of your personal skills and knowledge. Perhaps you’re already in IT and a particular skill would help broaden the abilities of the team you manage or your own role.

Getting certified in these areas can help you achieve and demonstrate your skills. Whichever of the 25 skills in which you want to improve, there is a certification to help you succeed. Check out the list below to find out what certifications are most applicable to the skill you’re interested in.

1. Cloud and Distributed Computing

2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining 

5. Middleware and Integration Software

6. Mobile Development
8. Storage Systems and Management 
11. Date Engineering and Date Warehousing
12. Algorithm Design
15. Mac, Linux, and User Systems

21. Database Management and Software
22. Software Modelling and Process Design


This eye-opening list is a fantastic indicator of what skills are in high-demand with employers. Now is the time to take advantage of these skill deficits.

Demand for these skills is likely to continue in 2016, especially areas like cloud technology. Equally, we’ll probably see the rise of new areas of skills in 2016 – some that may be very surprising like.

For further detail, here is a list of the top 25 skills of 2015 specific to the UK.







About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

Share your industry experience and inspire a generation!


 By 

If you're working in IT, we want to hear your stories. Share your experience and inspire the next generation of IT professionals.

Whether you have the most exciting job in the world, or the most mundane, whether you've been in the job 20 years or 20 days - we want to hear from you.

We're looking for IT professionals from all walks in the industry to share their experience and inspire a future generation of IT professionals via out new Industry Interviews section.


What you need to do

The process is really quite simple:
  1. Answer the questions in the form below (or via the website) with as much detail as possible
  2. Click submit 
It should only take 5-10 minutes. We'll collect the best submissions and publish them on our new Industry Interviews section to showcase to aspiring IT professionals.

If you're stuck for inspiration, check out some of the latest Interviews including a Senior Director of IT Infrastructure, Cloud Solutions Architect and even a Microsoft Technical Evangelist.


Author Profile

As part of Firebrand's global marketing team, Edward actively works to serve the IT community with news, reviews and technical how to guides. Working in the Industry for almost 5 years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint, Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

10 tips to pass Microsoft’s MCSA 70-411 exam

 By Sarah Morgan


If you’re considering achieving the MCSA Windows Server 2012 certification, you’ll need to pass 3 exams 70-410, 70-411 and 70-412. Having launched our “10 tips to pass Microsoft’s MCSA 70-410 exam” today we focus on exam 70-411: Administering Windows Server 2012. This exam proves your knowledge and skills in implementation and management of Microsoft Windows Server 2012’s components like Active Directory domain services, Group Policy, Remote Access and Update Management.

The 70-411 exam builds upon the fundamental skills demonstrated in the 70-410 exam and proves you can manage the majority of Windows Server 2012’s functions. Remember, you are required to pass all three exams before you are MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certified.

We’ve researched and compiled 10 tips that will help you get you the skills and knowledge to pass the second Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification exam, 70-411.

1. Use the Microsoft Virtual Academy


Microsoft’s Virtual Academy is one of the most useful resources Microsoft provides. Watch videos from Microsoft experts, giving you in-depth training and guidance on core Microsoft technologies. There are also online courses aligned to Microsoft exams. 

You can find resources for the MCSA: 70-411 exam here. This takes you through two substantial videos with all the insight into the details of the overview of the exam aims and contents. These videos also point you to, and talk you through the 70-411 exam page on the Microsoft Learning website. 

I’d recommend using the Microsoft Virtual Academy to prepare you for your studies. Once you know more about what you’ll be facing, you’ll be better placed to begin your studying and exam preparation.  

2. Use a revision guide


A revision guide is a must-have for any exam. It’ll guide you through your studies, highlighting which topics require more focus than others. Study guides often define terms you may not understand and explain theory with a high level of detail.

Don’t mess around searching for study guides, here’s our top recommendations. Like the 70-410 exam before it, Microsoft have a really useful official 70-411 exam revision guide called, “Exam Ref 70-411 Administering Windows Server 2012 R2 (MCSA)”. If you used Microsoft’s guide for the 70-410, this will continue nicely where the last left off, using a similar style. It is well structured to help you focus on each exam objective and also presents real-world scenarios to put your knowledge into context. And finally, published from Microsoft, you can trust that it contains all the information you need for the exam.

You can find it on Amazon here. The ISBN is 978-0735684799.

An alternative 70-411 book is William Panek’s MCSA Windows Server 2012 R2 Complete Study Guide: Exams 70-410, 70-411, 70-412. It comes with weight as it’s written by one of Microsoft’s MVPs and covers all the topics in all three of the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification exams. This goes into extensive detail to improve your knowledge and prepare you for the 70-411 exam. Other features include hands-on exercises, practice exam questions, electronic flashcards and over two hours of video content. All of this creates a revision guide package that is perfect at improving your Windows Server 2012 knowledge in all the areas in the three exams.

You can find it on Amazon here. The ISBN is 978-1118859919.

3. Join a forum


Sharing your Microsoft 70-411 exam queries and experiences can help you gain ideas and learn from others in the same position as yourself. Doing this in an online forum is easy, can be a well-earned break from revision and may surprise you in the amount of questions it answers. Take each answer with a pinch of salt – not everyone is an expert.

One of the best for Microsoft exams is TechNet’s forums. You can search for specific exam related questions, or look up general technology related queries. You could pose a direct question yourself, or use an existing thread with many responses and answers already available. There are many ways in which an online forum could be helpful to your 70-411 exam studies.

To point you in the right direction, here is a link to the Windows Server 2012 section and a link to the MCSA exams section.

4. Take a practice test

Practice tests are the closest you can get to a real exam. They’re designed to replicate the same question style and cover the same topics as the actual exam. This allows you to identify areas that may need more revision.

The best place to go for Microsoft practice exams is MeasureUp. They’re Microsoft official and have ample resources for all Microsoft exams. You can find the 70-411 practice exam package here, which contains 163 questions in total. Its features include a timed certification mode that mimics an exam scenario, a study mode that walks you through all topics and an instant score and break-down of how you’ve done to see where you need to improve.

You can buy the package for £79 or download 60 and 30 day editions costing £72 and £66 respectively.

5. Take a course


Sit down and learn from experts in the field, dedicated to building your Windows Server 2012 skills and knowledge putting you in the best position to pass your 70-411 exam. They get you hands-on with Windows Server 2012, whilst taking you step by step through the courseware. You’re also with like-minded students - who are a resource in themselves, as they tackle the same obstacles alongside you.

Firebrand offer a 9 day accelerated Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 course which covers all three exams, of course including the 70-411. 

There’s no better way to help you get certified than taking time out to study and giving it 100% of your time and attention, especially when you combine a course with some of our other tips and resources.

6. Avoid brain dumps


It is important to remember that if found using brain dumps, you will be disqualified from exams. They are a false economy, teaching you to cheat in order to pass, rather than focusing on building the skills and knowledge required to pass. Make sure you steer clear of 70-411 brain dumps. They’re not a good way to invest your learning efforts. Even if you pass, you’ll not have learned the skills the certification aims to teach you, meaning you won’t be able to put these into practice in your job. 

7. Download a trial version of the software


You can get hands-on with a trial version of Windows Server 2012. Put your knowledge into practice, reinforcing your learning of administering Windows Server 2012. Using all the Windows Server 2012 features, you’ll discover things you didn’t in your studies, that’ll be handy in your exam.

To make it more relevant, I’d recommend combining your exploration of the trial version with a study guide and the exam objectives. This’ll help you focus on the commands, switches and parameters used for Windows Server 2012 administration.



8. Join a study group


Study groups are useful for connecting with other students sitting the 70-411 exam. Learn from how others are tackling their studies. They may have tips that could be useful to your study method. Collaboration is always helpful when it comes to studying.

One of the biggest study groups for Microsoft certifications can be found on the Born to Learn blog. Here is the link to the MCSA: 70-411 exam study group. This is where you can find an extensive list of resources to refer to, as well as forums and discussions where you can interact with others.


9. Do some practice labs


If you’re looking to try out Windows Server 2012, but don’t yet feel confident enough to attempt the practices in the 70-411 exam, a practice lab is for you. It is based around guided learning so you can take on the tasks in a safe environment, removing the danger of anything going badly wrong.

MeasureUp’s 70-411 practice lab costs £98, but completing the lab means you’ll have done all the skills the 70-411 exam covers. There’s 16 hours of material and you’re able to go through it at your own pace. If you like to learn practically, this could be invaluable preparation. 

You may already be aware of TechNet’s 31 Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual labs. Although there isn’t one specifically for the 70-411 exam, they are all free and many of these cover topics that overlap with 70-411 exam content – like this one on configuring and managing servers.


10. Download a study app


Revision for your 70-411 exam has not escaped the modern world of the smartphone. Study apps have 70-411 exam resources to help you revise at your convenience. They do not have the extensive resources that a study guide can give you, but are fantastic for revising on the go, or when you’re away from home or the office. The three below are some of the best currently available and all have specific 70-411 sections:

  • Transcender
    • A highly customisable app allowing you to tailor your studying and has a setting to replicate the exam environment and style of questions.
  • uCertify
    • One of the most extensive libraries of practice questions plus a well-structured study guide to assist you through your exam practice.
  • Pass-Guaranteed
    • Another app with a collection of outstanding practice questions. This is because you can customise the type of questions you face, to vary your exam practice.
 About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.