UK looks to young innovators to fight cyber crime

The UK is to offer 18-year-olds training in advanced IT skills to bolster the expertise of intelligence agencies in fighting cyber crime

The UK is to offer around 100 18-year-olds training in advanced IT skills to bolster the expertise of intelligence agencies in fighting cyber crime.

The scheme was announced by foreign secretary William Hague during a visit to Bletchley Park, home of the UK’s Second World War codebreakers and forerunner to communications intelligence agency GCHQ.

The recruitment drive was aimed at "the young innovators of this generation who will help keep our country safe in years to come”, he said.

Successful applicants will work mainly at GCHQ, but some will go on to work for security service MI5 or  intelligence agency MI6.

Hague said the task was “every bit as serious” as conventional war, according to the BBC.

The UK needs to confront the daily attacks against intellectual property and government networks to ensure it remains a safe space for e-commerce and intellectual property online, he said.

According to Jarno Limnell, director of cyber security at security firm Stonesoft, the world will experience more intentionally executed cyber attacks in the next couple of years, and the development of offensive cyber weapons will become fiercer and publicly more acceptable.

For this reason, Limnell believes cyber capabilities are essential for nation-states and armed forces that want to be treated as credible players.

“To succeed in the cyber domain is not merely a question of defence, particularly for the nation-states,” he said.

While defence capabilities have to be as preventive as possible to reduce the effectiveness of cyber attacks, Limnell said that in the next couple of years, nation-states will expose their offensive cyber capabilities more openly to enhance their deterrent effect.

Nation-states will demonstrate their capabilities by organising exercises and simulations which will be openly reported, and the effects of some offensive capabilities will be disclosed,” he said.

However, Limnell predicted that this would not be enough, and that nation-states would be forced to conduct cyber attacks in real situations and against real targets.

“After these attacks, nations-states will claim responsibility to increase their cyber deterrence,” he said.

In May 2012, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced that US cyber specialists attacked sites related to al-Qaeda which were trying to recruit new members.

“This was a strong political message of intent to use cyber weapons. It was a glimpse into the future of cyber warfare – and into building deterrence,” said Limnell.

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