Bletchley Park: Teen cyberdefence school planned at historic home of codebreaking

National College of Cyber Security set to open in 2018 to train 'gifted' teenagers to bolster UK defences against cyberattacks and hackers.

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Bletchley Park played an active role in security efforts during World War II.

Image: BPSIC

Bletchley Park, the iconic estate where Alan Turing and many other codebreakers helped decrypt Nazi communications, is set to play an active role in national security for the first time since the end of the Second World War, when the UK's first National College for Cyber Security opens its doors on the iconic site.

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The college, designed to nurture cybersecurity skills of 'gifted' 16- to 19-year olds, will be backed by QUFARO, a not-for-profit body created by senior figures at Cyber Security Challenge UK, the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, the Institute of Information Security Professionals, BT Security, and cybersecurity firm Raytheon.

QUFARO describes itself as a "new initiative designed to make it simpler for those with career ambitions in cybersecurity to access the UK's cyber-specific education and innovation opportunities".

The aim of the organisation is help deliver the workforce necessary to protect British citizens and organisations against the growing threat of hacking and cyberattacks -- and the increasingly sophisticated actors behind them -- which cost the UK hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pounds a year. A recent cyberattack against Tesco Bank saw cybercrminals make off with £2.5m alone.

Set to open its doors in 2018, the National College of Cyber Security will be based at G-Block on the historic Bletchley Park site. A £5m restoration project is underway to convert what's currently a derelict building into what's described as one of the most advanced cyber test and demonstration facilities in the world, and a place which can bring focus to cybersecurity training.

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The future site of the National College of Cyber Security at Bletchley Park's G-Block.

Image: QUFARO

"For those interested in forging a career in cyber, the current pathway is filled with excellent but disparate initiatives -- each playing a vital role without offering a truly unified ecosystem of learning and support," said Alastair MacWilson, chair of QUFARO and the Institute of Information Security Professionals.

"By connecting what already exists and filling the gaps, QUFARO will make it easier for budding professionals to grow their cyber security skills at every stage of their journey, and contribute more to the sector as a result," he added.

It's hoped that the facility will become a centrepiece for teaching cybersecurity in the UK, with organisations across the country invited to take part in training events at the site in order to bolster defences against cyberattacks.

Lord Reid, former Home Secretary and chair of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at UCL, said the launch of the National College of Cyber Security college "shows that the UK is continuing to take significant steps to address this challenge".

"I believe it will be able to harness the legacy of this historic location to inspire the next generation. It is a fitting tribute to the incredible impact of all those who have worked at Bletchley Park over the years and I look forward to witnessing the impact I believe it can have on UK society," he said.

As well as opening the college at Bletchley Park, QUARO has announced plans to nurture British cyber businesses with the launch of a £50m investment fund next year. The fund is designed to aid entrepreneurs build new information security businesses.

The UK is increasingly looking to bolster its defences against foreign cyberattacks, with Chancellor Philip Hammond recently warning that the country must take "greater steps" to defend itself in cyberspace.

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