Drone-hacking cybersecurity boot camp launched in UK

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Picture Copyright: Reuters
© bbc.co.uk 2016  View original article at BBC World News

Budding cyberspies will learn how to hack into drones and crack codes at a new cybersecurity boot camp backed by the government.

Matt Hancock, the minister for digital and culture, said students would gain the skills needed to “fight cyber-attacks” and help keep the UK safe.

The 10-week course has been “certified” by UK spy agency GCHQ.

But some security experts raised questions about the need for the course and the intent behind it.

“If I were a company, I would not hire security consultants who had been approved by GCHQ,” said Prof Ross Anderson, who leads the security group at Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory.

“I would simply not be able trust them. GCHQ’s goal is that no-one should be able to shield themselves from surveillance, ever,” he told the BBC.

‘Skills gap’

The Cyber Retraining Academy will be operated by cybersecurity training firm Sans Institute. It will be funded as part of the government’s £1.9bn National Cybersecurity Strategy.

Sans Institute said “leading cybersecurity employers” would be able to track students’ performance throughout the course, with a view to recruiting talented individuals.

Would-be recruits must pass a series of competency tests to be considered for the boot camp, including a multiple-choice quiz before they can even submit an application.

The successful 50 candidates will attend the academy in London in 2017, and will receive two years of training condensed into 10 weeks.

Rik Ferguson of cybersecurity firm Trend Micro said the scheme could help people learn the skills to “hit the ground running” in a security-related role, but questioned why the scheme was needed.

“Employers often complain about the ‘cybersecurity skills gap’ – a gap that I would argue doesn’t exist,” he told the BBC.

“The problem is rather that employers are not looking beyond very narrowly specified certifications or degree courses in security-related subjects.

“If advertising a cyber-retraining programme as ‘drone hacking’ is going to get individuals with the right character and curiosity applying for this course, then it can only be a good thing.

“But obviously it takes more than 10 weeks, however intense, to create a well-rounded security professional.”