Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing resided during World War Two, played a fundamental role in the outcome of the War.
It was here that the Enigma code, used by the Nazis and notably the Luftwaffe (Nazi air force) was broken).
Codebreakers managed to crack the ‘Red’ key used by the Luftwaffe liaison officers coordinating air support for army units. It was significant.
Now the world faces a different threat, not from the skies but from the computer. Governments and private sector businesses are engaged in a cyber war.
It is evident that these bodies are currently facing a losing battle, with data breaches continuing to dominate headlines.
This stems from a number of factors. A major problem is the lack of digital skills available to the ‘good’ guys.
>See also: The Trojan horse: 2017 cyber security trends
Former Home Secretary Lord Reid said it had become vital to build up the “talent pool” for cyber defence.
The proposed move to turn Bletchley Park into a cyber defence and attack school then, should come as welcome news. Something is being done to stem the cyber attack’s tide.
The plan is to create a cyber training college to teach cyber security skills to 16-19 year olds at Bletchley from 2018.
G-Block, built in 1943, on the Bletchley Park site will undergo a £5 million restoration and act as the base for the college.
The project is being developed by a not-for-profit group called called Qufaro, set up by members of the cyber security industry, including from Cyber Security Challenge UK, The National Museum of Computing and BT Security.
A spokesperson for the GCHQ intelligence agency championed the initiative, suggesting that it would “promote and develop skills in cyber security”.
>See also: The 2016 cyber security roadmap
“The concept of a sixth-form college is interesting, especially if it can provide a pathway for talented students from schools that are not able to provide the support they need,” the spokesperson added.
There will be no fees for the future codebreakers, who would be taught maths, computing, physics and of course, coding by professionals in the cyber security industry.
Reid, who chairs the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College London, said cyber activity “now reaches into every aspect of our lives, as individuals and as a nation”.
As a result individuals and cyber security bodies alike have come together to join “disconnected and incomplete, putting us at risk of losing a whole generation of critical talent”, as Alastair MacWilson, of the Institute of Information Security Professionals and chair of Qufaro remarked.
He said that the Qufaro project will provide a more “unified” and collaborative approach to addressing the cyber skills training gap.
Margaret Sale, founding member of the National Museum of Computing, said the proposal would act as a “major active contributor to our national security”.