GCHQ ‘3 times more likely’ to lose cyber security skills than private sector

The UK's communications spying centre can't compete with high salaries offered by industry

GCHQ's difficulty in retaining the IT skills needed to respond to the cyber security threat is a real and growing concern, according to a report from the UK's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a group of senior parliamentarians appointed by the Prime Minister.

Last year, the ISC recommended that GCHQ explore ways to improve the situation, including a bonus system for specialist skills, and the UK communications spying centre confirmed that it had adopted such a system in January, in a bid to stop staff leaving for large technology companies such as Google.

Despite this initiative, however, in its 2011-12 annual report, the ISC said: "This year we were told that the situation had deteriorated and that GCHQ was 'losing critical staff with high end cyber technology skills at up to three times the rate of the corporate average, 3.4 percent.

"The [GCHQ] director thought this problem was likely to increase in the coming years."

GCHQ blamed the problem on the growing market for cyber security experts, and the government's inability to match the higher salaries and better benefits offered by the private sector. This has led to the government agency training staff, who were then recruited by the private sector.

It has therefore suggested a new employment model, whereby GCHQ recruits and trains staff with the expectation that they will eventually join industry.

"If they're working with some of those companies that we work closely with, perhaps there is a benefit that we can get from them," said the GCHQ director, Iain Lobban.

The ISC has asked GCHQ to identify options for new employment packages, which will be discussed with the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, to address the skills problem.

"GCHQ's continuing difficulties retaining internet specialists is a matter of grave concern," the committee said.

"We expect to see a package agreed and implemented before the start of the 2013/14 financial year."

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Anh Nguyen

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place