UK.gov: Sod SIGINT, let's turn GCHQ into a TECH CRECHE

Israel-style 'grad trainee' scheme mooted by ministers

UK spy agency GCHQ wants to become an incubator for the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, according to a story doing the rounds in this morning's newspapers.

The Independent reports that the proposed scheme will be modelled on the Teach First programme, where graduates work in difficult schools for two years before swanning off to take a private sector job.

Ministers are said to be looking at Israel for inspiration, particularly how the Middle Eastern nation's Unit 8200 (its equivalent of GCHQ) has been a starting point for tech entrepreneurs who have gone on to build bigger things, including infosec outfit Palo Alto Networks.

An anonymous Cabinet Office mouthpiece told the Indy: “We have loads of talented people working for GCHQ, and there is no shortage of academic excellence. The question is, can we create a secure space where business can work with GCHQ and build an eco-system between the two?”

The source continued: “The idea is to say to graduates you do not have to sign up to GCHQ for your whole career and there are options for you in the private sector.”

The Register understands that the proposed scheme is an idea born from a wider initiative linked to the National Cyber Security Strategy.

Francis Maude MP, Cabinet Office minister, recently visited Israel, where, amongst other things, he met some Unit 8200 alumni.

A security source told El Reg: "Although there is more thinking to be done, we think the Israeli model is interesting and are considering if we can learn from it to build on the significant work that GCHQ already does, in partnership with industry and academia, to develop the technical skills the UK needs to meet its cyber security objectives."

Reg reader and occasional contributor Ken Tindell summed up the risks of hiring former G-men for mission-critical IT roles:

Meanwhile, NetApp chap Alex McDonald took a far more sensible view of putting spooks on the books:

Here's the main question for the tech world: would you trust an ex-GCHQ bod with the keys to your corporate network? ®




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