British spy agency GCHQ is looking to attract the cream of the crop of budding computer scientists to attend a new summer school in which its own experts will teach students about ethical hacking, penetration testing and security networks.
The organisation, which allegedly created ‘Lovely Horse’ to keep track of top hackers’ and security specialists’ blogs and tweets, according to recent documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, says it is launching the “Cyber Insiders Summer School” for computer science students in their first or second year at university.
The students will need to have an interest in cyber “beyond that of their university studies”, and they must be skilled in at least one computer language. They will also need advanced coding skills and the ability and tenacity to solve a variety of complex problems. They should be able to work well in a team and independently.
The students selected will get lessons from GCHQ’s own cyber security experts as well as advice from guest speakers from some of the world’s leading technology companies. They will work with a range of different technologies including both new systems and legacy systems that are still used by organisations today.
At the end of the programme, there will be a practical exercise in which the students will have to showcase the skills that they have learnt during the ten week course.
Students will get paid £2,500 to attend the programme from 6 July to 11 September 2015. GCHQ will provide accommodation in the Cheltenham area, and if students complete the programme they will receive a certificate from GCHQ.
A GCHQ spokesperson said that the school will enable the students to enhance their cyber knowledge which will look good on their CV. The spokesperson suggested it could even set them up for a future at the spy agency.
“If they prove their abilities, we may even offer them a job interview,” the spokesperson said.
Prospective candidates should apply through GCHQ’s careers website. Applications close on 9 March 2015.
In August last year, GCHQ certified six cyber security Master’s degree courses. It said that the development of a certification would “help the successful universities to promote the quality of their courses and assist prospective students to make better informed choices when looking for a higher valued qualification”.
At the time, the spy agency suggested that employers will be able to better differentiate between candidates when employing security staff, as a result of the certification.