Historic WWII codebreaking site Bletchley Park will once again play an active role in national cybersecurity efforts under plans for it to house some of the UK’s most important new cybersecurity education and innovation projects.
The plans were announced today by QUFARO – a new not-for-profit body created by leading experts working in cyber security including senior figures from Cyber Security Challenge UK; The National Museum of Computing; the Institute of Information Security Professionals; BT Security, and Raytheon. QUFARO is designed to help deliver the cyber workforce necessary to protect British citizens and organisations against the increasing threat of cyber-attack.
The UK already boasts many successful programmes designed to identify and nurture upcoming cyber talent but they are often disconnected. The gaps make it hard for rising cyber stars to chart an unbroken learning pathway from early-stage interest to qualification, employment and professional development. QUFARO is designed to plug these gaps and act as a gateway both to existing options and new education and innovation opportunities, providing budding cyber defenders with a single point of access.
At the heart of QUFARO’s strategy is the creation of the UK’s first National College of Cyber Security. Based at the historic Bletchley Park site, students will be able to study in the very place where codebreakers famously cracked Nazi codes to aid British war efforts. Operational by 2018, the College will be a free-to-attend boarding school that will teach cyber skills to the UK’s most gifted 16-19-year-old prodigies, challenging and developing them into the top flight cyber security professionals of tomorrow. As part of its remit, the College will select only the most talented and skilled students to attend. It will draw its syllabus from the individuals working at the forefront of the cyber security industry in the UK, and integrate this with modules in complementary subjects such as maths, computer science, and physics.
G-Block, one of the largest buildings on the Bletchley Park site, will house the National College of Cybersecurity. A £5m restoration project is already underway to sympathetically convert it into a pioneering security technology centre boasting some of the most advanced cybersecurity test and demonstration facilities in the world. By doing so, QUFARO will create a centrepiece of national cybersecurity learning and a technical showcase in an iconic setting where organisations from across the country will be able to host events; train staff; and engage the wider public in the cyber agenda.
At the same time as delivering its education programme, QUFARO will nurture new British cybersecurity businesses with the launch of a £50m cybersecurity innovation investment fund next year. The fund will support entrepreneurs and seek to stimulate the growth of innovative new cybersecurity businesses, growing technological excellence, sovereign capabilities and the contribution the cybersecurity industry makes to our national GDP.
I am honoured to have been chosen to be the Chief Technology Officer for QUFARO and as such will have a key role in shaping the information and communications technology and cybersecurity strategies for the whole organisation. It is particularly exciting to be part of bringing part of the iconic Bletchley Park site back to life, marrying the incredible history of the place with the future potential of the UK’s cyber security industry. For now, the website (https://www.qufaro.uk) is limited a landing page where you can express interest in any aspect of the initiative and I hope many of you, kind readers, will do so. During the first quarter of 2017, a major update to the website will see significantly more information, including the ability to register for online courses and to begin the process of becoming part of the innovation centre.