Friday, 12 May 2017

5 things you need to do after the NHS hack

NHS hospitals across England have been hit by a large scale cyber attack. A pop-up message demanding ransom in exchange for access to the infected machines.

NHS Digital said: “A number of NHS organisations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a ransomware attack which is affecting a number of different organisations".



Whilst it’s too late to stop the current hack, this is a wake-up call for all. In this post, we will identify the steps needed to secure your own information now and in the future.

This is what you need to do
Be wary of emails from the NHS:
 Now is the perfect time for cyber criminals to strike through a phishing attack. Avoid downloading or clicking links in any emails coming from NHS. Almost all malware is installed unknowingly by the victims themselves.

Change your passwords and security questions: Even if you haven't been hacked, change your password and security questions immediately. This is especially important if your email is connected in any way to your bank or a PayPal account.

Additionally, you should look to change the passwords in any other account that uses the same or similar security information. This ensures hackers cannot access other accounts through NHS information. It is also sensible to check your password recovery settings and ensure they have not been changed to a third party.

Avoid contacting your GP practice: Avoid contacting your GP practice unless absolutely necessary, your local pharmacy can provide free and fast advice for non-urgent conditions.

Update your security settings and run a security scan: This the time to make sure your computer is secure. Make sure you run a virus scan and have the most recent security updates on your operating system. If you don't have an anti-virus application, invest in a high-quality one like McAfee or Norton Antivirus. This is something you should be doing as best practice regardless of the issue.


Report it to the police: If you believe you have been hacked and are now the victim of identity theft or fraud, file a report with Action Fraud.

BBC report on Firebrand's police force cyber crime training

This morning, Firebrand Training’s unique Cyber Crime Pathways Programme featured on BBC Breakfast News.

The BBC covered an exclusive insight into how non-technical police officers are trained and skilled in the cyber security investigation and forensic techniques required to catch criminals.

The Cyber Crime Pathways Programme, delivered using our unique accelerated training approach, shows frontline police officers how to effectively respond to the rise in cyber crime across the UK.
Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s leading technology reporter, watched as a team of police officers infiltrated a simulated hacker’s lair.

The high pressure scenario required the police to utilise their training to efficiently find hidden devices and collect the forensics evidence needed to identify the cyber criminal.

Interviewed on BBC, DC Steve Mersh said: “It’s a case of learning the practical skills that we can utilise, no different to a finding a gun at a crime scene that we can make safe from the public and attribute to the criminal”.



Missed it this morning?


Since the Cyber Crime Pathways Programme launched in 2014, Firebrand has trained 659 police officers across 80% of all police forces in the UK. Part of the 960 accelerated courses taken by police are hands-on, practical crime scene simulations like those featuring in the BBC programme.
At a time when you’re more likely to be a victim of a cyber crime than any other offence, the UK is dedicated to upskilling their force to combat this growing threat.

“Back in the day, the officers would simply turn up and literally just pull the electricity supply out of the back of the computer, bag it, tag it and send it away for a forensic investigation which could take months before they got back with anything meaningful” says Phil Chapman, Lead Cyber Security Instructor at Firebrand Training.

Phil continued: “We’re proud to provide accelerated cyber security training to local police forces across the UK. Cyber crime is one of the largest threats to businesses and consumers today - our police need the know-how to respond to this unique form of criminality.

“Firebrand has developed an amazing partnership with local police forces across the UK and we’re excited to share our ongoing work with the BBC.”

Get the skills you need, fast


It's not just the police force that need to prepare for the growing threats of cyber attacks. With two-thirds of large UK businesses the victim of a cyber attack in the past year, it's time you secured your business.

Get the cyber security skills you need to defend your organisation, fast. Choose from 50+ accelerated cyber security courses covering the full requirements of your business across technologies and disciplines.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

6 things you need to know about GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to come into effect from 25 May 2018. UK businesses need to be ready or face severe consequences.

In November 2016, Tesco Bank fell victim to a cyber attack in which £2.5 million was stolen from the current accounts of 20,000 customers. If the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) finds Tesco failed to comply with measures to keep people’s personal data secure, they could face a fine up to £500,000. Under the new regulations set out in the EU GDPR, the same fine could be set at £1.9 billion.

After May 2018, businesses failing this new strict data protection compliance regime will face severe penalties of up to 4% of worldwide turnover. The GDPR means significant changes for all businesses that use or store the personal data of EU citizens.  
“When it comes to data security, the silent spectre of EU General Data Protection Regulation is slowly kicking organisations into action, and incidents such as this will only accelerate this trend” - Nigel Hawthorn, the Chief European spokesperson at Skyhigh Networks.

In this blog we’ll look at 6 things you need to know about GDPR in order to prepare for its implementation in 2018. 

1.  Understand who GDPR applies to


Regardless of your business’s location, if you’re handling the data of European citizens then GDPR applies to you. Companies across the globe will be held to the exact same security standards.

This gives the European data protection authority the power to take action against any organisation breaching these regulations, regardless of geographic location.

Driven by the huge fines businesses face - if they fail to meet the protection requirements - 70% of businesses are now expected to increase spending to address data protection and sovereignty, according to Ovum

2.  Understand what counts as personal data


GDPR will widen the definition of what constitutes personal data. The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) failed to recognise genetic and biometric information as personal data, while the GDPR does.

Under the EU GDPR, personal data will be defined as:
“Data consisting of racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person's sex life or sexual orientation”.

This broad definition means almost all customer information now falls under the category of ‘personal data’. Your business must comprehend the significant changes in the incoming regulation, securing any and all data to avoid severe punishment. 


3.  Review your business’s Terms & Conditions


The GDPR regulation introduces new guidelines stressing the need for explicit individual consent before using a citizen’s data. Businesses will need to use simpler language when asking for consent, be clear on how the data will be used and understand that inactivity does not constitute consent. Lengthy and complicated terms and conditions which lack clarity will no longer be tolerated.

EU citizens will also have greater influence over what happens to their data. Including data erasure (commonly known as ‘the right to be forgotten’) and data portability (transmitting data to another controller).

GDPR also introduces the data minimisation principle, requiring organisations not to hold data for any longer than absolutely necessary. This law also prevents businesses from changing the use of data from what it was originally collected for – unless they request permission. 

4.  You’ll need to conduct Privacy Impact Assessments


The GDPR introduces the need for Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) for any project where privacy breach risks are high.

Your business can no longer begin projects involving personal information, unless a privacy risk assessment has been conducted first. Your business must also work closely with a Data Protection Officer to ensure compliance throughout all projects.

Your organisation must integrate security into the core of all projects, rather than it being a simple consideration.

5. You may need a Data Protection Officer


The EU GDPR removes the notion that regulations should relate to an organisation’s size or the number of employees. 

If your organisation fits any of the three scenarios below – outlined in article 37 -  it’s mandatory that you appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO). The core activities of the organisation involve:

  • the processing of personal data by a public authority
  • “regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale”
  • large-scale processing of special data—for example, biometric, genetic, geo-location,

The role of the DPO is to monitor organisational compliance to the regulations and report all and any findings to the highest management level. A study by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) suggests that 75,000 DPOs will have to be appointed globally in the next two years.

This same study shows that staffing requirements are likely to present a big challenge to organisations that don’t hire or develop the skills quickly.

Firebrand offer the Certified Data Protection Officer certification designed for those with at least two years of experience in data protection. Sitting this 3-day course will build the skills and knowledge required to fulfill the role of DPO to maintain compliance against the EU GDPR.    

6.  Reporting a breach – constant monitoring required


In addition to outlining how your businesses should secure their data, the GDPR also has strict regulations on how your business must respond in the event of a data breach.

This includes the common breach notification requirement, combining all breach notification laws across Europe under one definition, providing clarity on how your business reports a data breach. This notification law “requires organisations to notify the local data protection authority of a data breach within 72 hours of discovering it”.

Considering Yahoo stumbled across one of the largest security breaches in history two years after it occurred, this law forces even the largest organisations to be more proactive in identifying and reporting incidents.  If GDPR applies to your organisation, you’ll need to put in place tools and processes to monitor and create alerts in the event of an incident 24/7/365. 


Time is running out...

You have just 12 months to prepare for the incoming GDPR. As outlined above, there must be significant changes to the way your business collects, handles, secures and shares data in May 2018 and beyond. 

Once these regulations are introduced, your organisation won't get away with a minor fine for mishandling sensitive information. Failure to prepare will lead to severe - inf not business ending - financial consequences. Don't get caught out, start your GDPR readiness journey today.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Firebrand announce the fourth winner of Free Training For Life

Our fourth Free Training For Life competition has finally come to an end. Over 14,000 people entered from 104 countries for a chance to win free access to our entire portfolio of accelerated courses, for life.

We’re now pleased to announce the lucky winner of the 2016/17 Free Training For Life competition!


Say hello to the winner


Firebrand Training is pleased to announce that Jennifer Hamling-Hills, an experienced project coordinator based in the United Kingdom is this year’s Free Training For Life winner.

Jennifer has won this life changing award, gaining unrestricted access to accelerated, world-class training from the industry’s leading vendors including Microsoft, EC-Council, CompTIA, ISACA, Cisco, The Open Group, AXELOS and many more.

Jennifer had this to say about winning this prize worth over £1 million:

“Amazing, unbelievable, I’m still coming down! Learning I had been shortlisted while on holiday in Spain was a bit surreal. Being told the following day was just amazing. I felt completely lifted and excited. Still only just sinking in”.

Firebrand's Co-founder and Commercial Director Robert Chapman presents Jennifer Hamling-Hills with the Free Training For Life prize. 


“All of these skills will make both myself and my CV a more attractive package to prospective recruiters and could boost my earning potential for years to come. I’m 100% focused on my new learning journey”.

Where to begin?


Having worked in project management for over a decade Jennifer has always wanted to get the official credentials to go alongside her wealth of experience.

Jennifer has her target set on the accelerated PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certification  as her first course. Here, she’ll learn to implement a scalable, process-based approach to project management.

After this Jennifer has expressed interest in the PRINCE2 Agile the BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis certifications. Her long-term aspirations also include gaining a professional Microsoft certification to prove her SharePoint and Office 365 skills.  

Jennifer went on to say: “This for me is the start of something big. I’m raring to go”.

Jennifer’s prize will allow her access to our growing list of 400+ accelerated courses and won’t have to pay a penny for training, exams, course books, food or accommodation. Not to mention, Jennifer can undertake her training in any of Firebrand’s purpose-built centres across Europe and the Middle East.

Join our previous winners

Jennifer joins previous winners Joseph Guthrie, Mario Henkel and Darren Edmondson as the fourth winner of this annual prize.

You can join our previous winners as we’ve just relaunched the Free Training For Life competition for the fifth time!

Enter this year’s FTFL draw here. And, share your referral URL with friends and family to increase your chances. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Firebrand Training launch Microsoft Software Tester Apprenticeship with Testhouse

The demand for software testers is increasing but businesses across the UK are failing to get the testing and DevOps skills they need because of a lack of qualified professionals.

In response to this demand, Testhouse, a Microsoft Gold ALM Partner, and Firebrand Training, leaders in accelerated learning, have launched the Microsoft Software Tester Apprenticeship.



The launch of this programme aligns with Microsoft’s National Empowerment activity, which sees over 4,500 young people start a Microsoft-backed apprenticeship across over 2,500 Microsoft Partners and customers this year. This apprenticeship will also be delivered in time for the imminent arrival of the Apprenticeship Levy.

The Microsoft Software Tester apprenticeship is designed to bring new software testers and DevOps specialists into IT, at a time when these professionals are more essential than ever.

Built around the National Apprenticeship Standard for Software Testers, this apprenticeship programme is designed by Firebrand -- a Microsoft Gold Partner -- to align directly with job role demands of employers.

“We can’t wait to get new software testers and DevOps specialists into the industry to fill the digital skills gap and contribute to Microsoft’s target of 30,000 new apprenticeships by 2020” says Stefano Capaldo, Firebrand’s Managing Director.

“Firebrand are already receiving interest from employers for this new apprenticeship. We’re excited to have our first Azure apprentices starting soon.”

Get Microsoft Software Testing skills in your organisation


As apprentices learn how to design and execute tests on business applications and services, students on this programme will develop into software testing and DevOps professionals.

The rapid increase in popularity for Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 has led to a lack of knowledge in the solution’s software testing tools. To meet this demand, apprentices will receive considerable training on this industry-standard platform.

Jim Cowdery, Head of Business Development at Testhouse, says:

“We are very proud to work with both Firebrand and Microsoft to provide much needed skills in the marketplace and offer businesses affordable testing solutions.”

Built by Testhouse and Firebrand, the programme also includes £10,000s worth of government-funded software testing training, including:


Firebrand’s Microsoft Software Tester programme is also fully customisable, so you can tailor it to suit you as an employer.

Plus, apprenticeships are not only for new staff. Savvy organisations can put existing employees on this Microsoft Software Tester Apprenticeship, boosting their testing skills with government-funded training.

Who is Firebrand Training?


Firebrand Training is the fastest way to learn. Firebrand’s apprentices train at twice the speed, getting industry-recognised certifications at an all-inclusive residential training centre. For more information on Firebrand’s unique accelerated learning take a look at the video below:


Since launching in 2001, Firebrand has trained more than 62,000 students and saved a total of 1 million hours. Firebrand Training is also a Microsoft Gold Training Partner and has provided accelerated apprenticeships since 2012.



Get more information on the new Microsoft Software Tester Apprenticeship, including how to access £10,000s of government-funded accelerated training. Or learn more about the Apprenticeship Levy with this this guide.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Firebrand launch new Microsoft Azure Apprenticeship programmes

The use of cloud technology is rapidly increasing but businesses across the UK are failing to progress their cloud projects because of a lack of skilled Azure professionals.

“Today 80% of our customers have already deployed or fully embraced the cloud – by 2020 the idea that a company has ‘no cloud’ would be as rare as a ‘no internet’ policy is today” says Gavriella Schuster, Corporate VP of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group.

But despite the rapid uptake of cloud technology, the industry is experiencing a massive skills shortage. Azure skills were the hardest to source, according to a 2016 study of Microsoft Partners from Curotalent.

Microsoft is committed to closing the skills gap with their pledge to create 30,000 new digital apprenticeship roles by 2020. As part of this, and in time for the imminent arrival of the Apprenticeship Levy, Firebrand have launched four new accelerated Azure apprenticeships.

“We’ve developed these accelerated Azure apprenticeships to reflect the knowledge and skills demanded by UK businesses.

“We’re excited to see these apprenticeships shape and develop Azure skills for the next generation of IT professionals" says Stefano Capaldo, Firebrand’s Managing Director.








Built by Firebrand -- in partnership with Microsoft – these new Azure apprenticeships are the first of their kind to align to existing National Apprenticeship standards. Each apprenticeship also includes £10,000s of accelerated Microsoft Azure training and certification.

How to get new Azure skills in your organisation, fast


Four new Azure programmes, built around in-demand job roles and designed by industry trailblazers, are now available to employers and apprentices.


Azure Infrastructure Technician

Azure Infrastructure Technicians learn to support internal and external customers by resolving virtual and on-premise queries. Apprentices will also study virtual machine (VM) administration.

Accelerated training includes:
Apprentices on this programme will develop into your next helpdesk technician, infrastructure technician or Azure network support professional.


Azure Software Developer

Azure Software Developers learn to design, build and test Azure solutions and applications. These apprentices will also learn how to build and host application infrastructure in Azure.

As well as official Microsoft Azure courses, accelerated training includes:
This programme will teach apprentices how to become an Azure mobile/application/systems/web developer.


Azure Cyber Security Technologist

Azure Cyber Security Technologists will use their specialist cloud knowledge to identify cyber threats and risks to organisations and people. Azure Cyber Security Technologists will also specialise in cloud platform and infrastructure security.

As well as official Microsoft Azure courses, accelerated training includes:
Typical job roles for apprentices on this programme include: cloud security architect, cyber operations manager, penetration tester and security engineer.


Azure Network Engineer

Azure Network Engineers focus on virtual networks whilst learning how to design, install and support communications within an organisation. Azure Network Engineers will become experts in network configuration and administration.

As well as official Microsoft Azure courses, accelerated training includes:
Apprentices on this programme will develop into network technicians, network administrators and systems engineers.


Are you planning for the Apprenticeship Levy yet?


With the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017, all businesses in the UK are now hugely incentivised to hire apprentices.

The Levy will change the way apprenticeships are funded. Here are three things employers need to know:
  1. Employers with a UK wage bill of over £3 million will pay the monthly levy
  2. Levy payments will be 0.5% of their annual pay bill
  3. Employers will control payments in a digital account where funds can be spent on apprenticeship training
  4. Non-levied employers will only pay 10% of the cost of apprenticeships, government will pay the remainder
Use your Levy on Azure apprenticeships, close your cloud skills gap, and move ahead with your Azure projects. Find out how you can hire and train Azure apprentices at little-to-no-cost right now.