How Apprentices protect the world’s largest broadcaster from cyber crime

As part of its plan to protect against cyber attacks, the BBC is upskilling and growing its Cyber Security skills through Firebrand's IT Apprenticeships.

With common threats to broadcasting companies including piracy and broadcast signal intrusion, as well as personal information hacking and ransomware, the BBC is protecting its staff and audience from cyber-attacks through accelerated learning.

The BBC, the world’s largest broadcaster by number of employees, is transforming the way it protects itself and its audience of 372 million from cyber-attacks. From having never invested in apprentices at this level before, the rapidly growing broadcaster and its 120-strong IT workforce has begun enrolling its staff onto Higher Apprenticeship programmes with industry-leading accelerated Cyber Security training to ensure they are protecting themselves against cyber-crime fast.

The BBC Information Security Manager told us, “Our aim is that by having someone work closely with the team, learn about InfoSec in a ‘live’ environment, we’ll be able to fill our permanent roles with people that have what we're looking for!” 

An opportunity from the Apprenticeship Levy

As the only training provider able to deliver bespoke Cyber Security Standards, Firebrand was approached quickly by Alex Wilson, Information Security Manager, and Huw Davies, Apprenticeship Project Manager, after the BBC set itself a target to train 2.4% of its workforce through apprenticeships by 2020. With over 21,000 employees in the UK, the BBC have a large budget through the Apprenticeship Levy to support their mission.

“Our current objectives include completing a BBC-wide Information Asset Register, working with the W2020 team to review BBC systems, and ensuring there is a complete and up-to-date policy portfolio in place,” Alex told us.

While their Information Security team consisted of 70 staff already, the BBC came to Firebrand for help with launching what was the beginning of their investment into apprenticeships fuelled by the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.

Upskilling the next generation of Cyber Security experts

2017 was the first year the BBC hired IT apprentices. With a hope to build a new generation of Cyber Security staff in permanent roles, they have committed to enrol a further 50 IT apprentices with Firebrand Training across Cyber Security, Software Development, and Network Engineering programmes.

Alex is fully on board with the idea of bringing in new talent through Apprenticeships: “I think it’s where we see the future, there's so much potential and to offer an on-the-job experience is great. The BBC can only benefit from this and will ensure that we are getting staff who are right for the job.”

Meet the apprentices

Abraham, Cyber Security Analyst, and Eleanor, Information Security Officer, started their apprenticeship programmes with Firebrand Training and new roles at the BBC in September 2017.

Both apprentices have already seen great promise for a thriving career within the BBC. Eleanor has spent some time in the BBC offices in Belfast to attend workshops and discuss cyber-attacks to the BBC and how to minimise the risk. Abraham is an active STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador for the BBC, travelling to schools and colleges across the UK to promote STEM and apprenticeships as a fruitful career choice.

“I've been able to get involved in Information Security by working on dedicated projects that will provide intelligence for the SOC and reviewing automated alerts, improving them in the process. In the wider organisation, I have got involved in a project that will improve BBC bitesize in the near future; I have also got involved in outreach community projects that are not necessarily Cyber-Security-based,” Abraham told us.

As part of their Apprenticeships, Abraham and Eleanor will attend the following accelerated courses at our residential training centre in Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire:

We hope you enjoy the programme!