Feeds

INSIDE GCHQ: Welcome to Cheltenham's cottage industry

'If this nerve centre didn't exist, neither would I' says Reg man

Security for virtualized datacentres

Untold stories

While the mindset of secrecy is encouraged with good reason, it does have its drawbacks for those with ambition. I recall a few jaded souls who had stayed so long that, despite having exceptional talent, would find it difficult to leave because they couldn’t tell a future employer on the outside what they’d been up to. So unless they could find a government job posting elsewhere, they were destined to remain residents of Hotel Gloucestershire: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

On the other hand, high-flyers fresh from university would find they had an opportunity to shine given the brain-tingling tasks they had to tackle and the resources at their disposal. Don’t be shy of working there if you have the skills, but you might want to keep an eye on the calendar unless you’re planning on being a lifer.

That being so, the secretive side of things can begin to seep into your thinking. Who’s watching you? Surely, somebody must be from time to time as a routine security measure so you don’t end up becoming vulnerable financially or in other ways.

“My, that codecracker Jenkin’s is a lucky chap, he’s nearing retirement and that gorgeous 19-year-old Chinese girl he met at the bus stop has totally fallen for him. Who’d have thought it?”

GCHQ Benhall doughnut side

Just how closely you are monitored can tease the imagination. On this point, my Dad would joke about voting Communist to see just how secret the secret ballot was. I don’t suppose he ever put it to the test, but if you work there and feel lucky when the next election comes around, why not give it a shot?

Working there affected my thinking too, as it’s only in recent years that I’ve stopped dreaming about returning to the place to embrace the technological challenges and achieve great things. Yes, I would finally have a crack at Star Trek and get to the Emeritus level, if only I could find a PDP-11 handy. Still, I picked up useful transferable skills there, as fault tracing combined with being a dab hand with soldering iron worked out very well when I found myself in London working in recording studios.

Naturally enough, the establishment has moved with the times. The intense efforts to monitor Cold War threats have largely given way to focus on the terrorism and cyber-security issues of today, as highlighted on the GCHQ website. Whatever you think about the secrecy of the place, the intelligence services endeavour to keep us safe. It was a motivating force for those who’d experienced WW2 and went on to take jobs at GCHQ so this country wouldn't experience anything like that again.

I've no doubt it's a commitment that continues to this day: so far, so good. ®

GPS

51.898835, -2.120497

Post code

GL51 0EX

Getting there

A40 Cheltenham

Other resources

GCHQ website

Bletchley Park

The National Archives

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.