The UK government has announced the launch of the Cyber Retraining Academy, with which it aims to create a cadre of specialists from non-IT backgrounds in just ten weeks.
Part of the government's National Cybersecurity Strategy, which comes with the pledge of £1.9 billion in funding, the Cyber Retraining Academy is to open in London with a view to testing soldiers, nurses, and others looking for a change in career to see if they have a natural aptitude for 'cybersecurity'. 50 of the successful candidates will go on to academy-style training, which the government claims will somehow give them the equivalent of two years' experience in just ten weeks and culminate in an attempt to 'hack' an autonomous drone mid-flight.
Whether or not ten weeks of training and 50 individuals constitutes anything other than a means of grabbing headlines, despite the approval of the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) security service, the government appears serious about actively using the group. In a speech delivered late yesterday
at the Future Decoded event, Chancellor Philip Hammond claimed that the UK would be taking an aggressive role in its own cyber defence. 'We will continue to invest in our offensive cyber capabilities, because the ability to detect, trace and retaliate in kind is likely to be the best deterrent,
' he told attendees. 'A small number of hostile foreign actors have developed and deployed offensive cyber capabilities, including destructive ones. These capabilities threaten the security of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and our industrial control systems.
'[i]If we do not have the ability to respond in cyberspace to an attack which takes down our power networks leaving us in darkness, or hits our air traffic control system, grounding our planes, we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the other cheek and ignoring the devastating consequences, or resorting to a military response.
The government's full National Cyber Security Strategy, which runs through to 2021, can be found here