Cyber Scheme Foundation Level (CSFL)
Bridging the gap between formal education and industry-ready practitioner.
2.5 days training at our assessment centre in Cheltenham £900 +VAT
Half day exam, on the third day of training or on a date to suit you £500 +VAT
Next dates: January 24th-26th 2024 | February 19th-21st 2024.
Laptop and pen testing distro required for attendance.
The Cyber Scheme Foundation Level (CSFL) assessment is designed for anyone wishing to begin a career in technical cyber security.
Whether you employ security testers, or want to become one yourself, you will have heard of the chronic skills gap in this area of technical cyber security. There are so many articles out there talking about the problem – but we think we have found a solution.
It’s an uncomfortable truth that many UK-created cyber security qualifications, even Masters degrees from NCSC-certified universities, do not fully prepare students for a real-world job. Employers rarely rely on formal education to tell them a student is worth employing – they look for aptitude, cultural fit, and above all basic and accredited technical, practical skills when choosing their graduates. While formal degrees have their place, it’s time for career starters to accept that a career in cyber security will not fall into their lap just because they have been to university.
The world of Information Technology is changing all the time – think of how quickly cloud, AI and quantum computing have entered this industry. A formal syllabus simply can’t keep up. Threats evolve at the same rate, if not even faster, than IT solutions – meaning that theoretical learning can only ever take a high-level view of what is happening.
The CSFL (Cyber Scheme Foundation Level) is an entry level technical assessment designed to bridge the gap between formal education and industry ready practitioner. This practical exam, with a corresponding training course, is designed to help candidates get that elusive first job as a technical cyber security consultant.
Whether the candidate is aiming to be placed in a Check consultancy (with the aim of becoming a CTM as quickly as possible), or they simply want to brush up on technical skills with a course created by an NCSC-Assured training provider, the CSFL provides the practical stepping stones needed to become a junior tester.
Whilst this qualification has been developed utilising content from CHECK, candidates do not need to be working towards becoming a CHECK practitioner to benefit from this course. The CFSL provides a technical introduction into cyber security in general; the training will highlight and enhance the skills and knowledge required at this beginner level, whilst the exam will measure competence. The CSFL is currently being mapped to CyBOK and is positioned at RQF level 4.
Who is CSFL for?
The CSFL is an entry level course and qualification, suited to those at the start of their security testing careers. This can be anyone from those leaving full-time education to people who want to change careers to include technical cybersecurity (perhaps from an IT support role, or a technical position within the military, for example). There are no prerequisites, all that is required is some basic knowledge on the subject and a drive to learn. This qualification is aimed at those looking for or already in an entry level cyber security role.
We have created a corresponding CSFL training course delivered in a face-to-face setting which we believe is the best way to prepare for this assessment; however the knowledge and skills required to be successful in the exam can also be obtained through self-study and experience. It’s possible to book the training and exam for the same time slot, choose to undertake just one element, or split the training and exam to allow for further self learning if preferred.
Essentially, this qualification is achievable regardless of cyber security education or academic background If you have any questions about your suitability, please get in touch.
Why has The Cyber Scheme created CSFL?
One of the reasons The Cyber Scheme have created the CSFL is to help close the cyber security skills gap in technical cyber security, by increasing the number of appropriately qualified people entering the industry and supporting industry needs for practical expertise even at beginner level jobs.
We regularly talk to students, graduates, career transitioners and recruiters about the difficulties they face in trying to access and fill entry level roles; it has become clear to us that, despite the best efforts of students to train and educate themselves with certifications and training courses, they are wasting time, money and effort being directed to unsuitable resources which are not well regarded in industry. The danger is that they give up before they have even started – creating even more pressure on the skills gap.
CSFL provides candidates with a meaningful starting qualification from an industry leading, NCSC-Assured assessment body. Procurement and hiring teams will be able to identify candidates with the CSFL qualification as having the foundational skills needed to be on their way to becoming a security testing practitioner.
CSFL includes the option of a 30 minute in-person debrief from our assessors, which can be booked after either the training course or the exam.
This valuable debrief provides an opportunity for candidates to discuss any elements they found challenging, discover further learning opportunities, identify skills gaps and maximise personal development. It also gives our assessors the chance to go over in detail, in a private and personal setting, the candidate’s results, ensuring they receive a thorough analysis of their efforts. Candidates will be able to book a slot upon completion of the training course.
We believe this personal approach is what makes our training and assessments work for everyone – and what makes the CSFL such a valuable tool when increasing the practical knowledge every employer is looking for.
The perfect competency assessment for organisations training up their junior consultants
We as an industry have become increasingly frustrated by the issues caused by the cyber security skills gap. We have repeatedly heard from our sponsor community about issues this is causing when trying to fill their available job roles. The cost of hiring a completely new candidate is currently very high due to inflated salary expectations and recruitment fees. By instead utilising this budget to upskill existing staff, companies can develop security testing practitioners who are fully aligned to their needs.
Working together both as an industry and a community, we can help give those new to the industry the best introduction into cyber security with clear defined career pathways. This in turn will help the industry train and retain practitioners and shorten the length of time it takes for them to contribute fully to security testing projects.
It takes time, effort and a huge opportunity cost to bring testers to a level where they can become a billable asset. A gap has been identified between the practical skills and knowledge demonstrated by a recent graduate or career starter, and those required by employers. This assessment aims to fill that gap, and to quicken the journey from career starter to billable consultant. We have a proven track record in creating NCSC certified and assured training and assessments for technical, offensive security at the highest level available.
The CSFL assessment measures the competence of a junior and/or graduate cyber security professional looking for, or already in, an entry level role. There is an emphasis on practical skills, in addition to a multiple-choice theory section which aims to prepare candidates for future, higher level certifications. Candidates are given the fundamental skills and knowledge to begin the journey towards becoming a certified security tester. If required, this assessment will also help expedite progress to Check Team Member, or equivalent, and will certify and demonstrate the practical knowledge employers are looking for.
This qualification can either be booked independently or as part of a company’s onboarding scheme for new staff. The training will highlight and enhance the skills and knowledge required at this level, whilst the exam will measure competence. We hope anyone taking this training and exam will expedite their progress to CSTM, or equivalent, and be able to demonstrate the practical knowledge employers are looking for.
We have positioned the assessment at RQF 4 (Regulated Qualifications Framework); it is aimed at anyone wishing to begin a career in the cyber security testing specialism as well as candidates looking for a comprehensive introduction to technical cyber security.
The Cyber Scheme firmly believe this is an essential qualification for those looking to obtain an entry level job in technical cyber security. It provides the skills employers are looking for, and bridges the gap between education and practical learning.
Assessment for the CSFL consists of:
- One hour multiple choice exam (closed book) consisting of 100 questions
- Two hour practical assault course. Monitored internet access will be available.
You will be faced with a number of theoretical and practical questions answered over a relatively short period of time. This level of challenge ensures the candidate is being challenged at the appropriate level and in keeping with industry standard examination techniques. The questions are structured in such a way as to ascertain knowledge and understanding across a wide variety of subject specific topics, without losing the essence of the subject matter.
Practical Assessment (Network Assault Course)
Candidates are presented with a practical network assault course, where they must demonstrate that they can used the tools and techniques taught in the module to probe a given network infrastructure to gain access to information.
Candidates are permitted access to their own notes and course notes, but unsupervised access to the Internet or the use of mobile phones is not permitted.
- The Laws and Ethics Associated with Security Testing
- Building and Maintaining a Security Testing Device
- Fundamental Linux CLI for the Purpose of Security Testing
- Fundamental Linux Scripting for the Purposes of Security Testing
- Fundamental Python Coding for Ethical Hackers
- Fundamental Windows Operating System Commands
- Computer Networking Fundamentals
- Packet capturing for Security Testing and Ethical Hacking
- Web Application Fundamentals
- Vulnerability Analysis Fundamentals
- Testing Mobile Devices Fundamentals
- An Introduction to Testing in the Cloud.
What you need to know about the assessment/exam
Candidates must supply your own laptop, with a security testing distro, Nessus (or some form of VA software) and a working powers supply, wired ethernet port and have admin rights to add and remove software as required. They will need to use the USB ports to copy data.
- The exam begins at 1pm – please arrive 15 minutes before the start time to get set up.
- The multiple-choice element is closed book and the practical element is open book.
- MC – 1 hour – 100 questions – answer all questions.
- Practical – 2 hours – answer all assignment questions. Use of the internet is allowed.
We do not currently wipe hard drives during this assessment, but the assessment data must be removed from your laptop at the end of the assessment.
All the topics shown above are covered in our comprehensive training course. Click on the link below to find out more.
Inclusion and Accessibility
The Cyber Scheme believe everyone should have access to a career in security testing. We are available to discuss any concerns you have and are more than happy to make reasonable adjustments for any candidate who requires them during examinations.
These reasonable adjustments are to ensure you are given an equal opportunity to demonstrate the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours required. We recognise that not all disabilities are visible.
We have a range of reasonable adjustments we can offer depending on what difficulty you might face. If you request an adjustment which we are unable to offer, we will give you a reason why we cannot offer it. This might be because it maps to a key Knowledge, Skill or Behaviour that we have to assess against within the certification. If that is the case, we will tell you which aspect we think would not be properly assessed.
There may be background noise during an assessment. Please bring (or ask for) ear plugs / ear defenders or listen to music if background noise is likely to affect your concentration.
Access to all of our facilities is suitable for people with mobility issues. Should any other special facilities be required please get in touch at time of booking. For some reasonable adjustments, such as access to a disabled parking space, we will need to see supporting documentation around the condition to allow us to apply for this access for you. No information will be retained or stored once the request is validated.