British spies are officially setting the standard for fighting hackers


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REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

British spy standards have gone international.

A pilot scheme for the UK government's cyber security training initiative has launched in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - meaning British spies are now setting the international standard for fighting hackers.


The scheme will be run by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), the information security arm of the GCHQ. It is an extension of the CESG's ongoing UK Certified Professional (CCP) scheme.

The UK scheme launched in October 2012 and is designed to ensure security professionals meet a quality benchmark set by the CESG, assuring potential hirers of their anti-hacker abilities.

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The scheme ranks professionals at three levels of competency: Practitioner, Senior Practitioner, and Lead Practitioner.

To date, the scheme has accredited 1,200 UK professionals in a variety of roles, including penetration testers and crypto custodians.


Penetration testers are hackers companies hire to find holes in their defences. Crypto custodians are professionals that manage companies' use of encryption.

Encryption is a security technology that scrambles digital information using specialist mathematics. It makes it so only people in possession of a specific unlock key or password can read the encrypted information.

The pilot international scheme will be limited to security and information risk advisors (SIRA) and IA architects - the people who advise companies on how to protect their data and design their information security systems.

The new US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand tests will be run by the APMG International examination body and CESG.

Overcoming the cyber skills gap

The pilot scheme's launch is the latest step in the UK and US governments' bid to overcome the reported cyber skills gap. The UK government has warned that there is an ongoing shortage of skilled security professionals.


UK government spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the cyber skills gap will last 20 years, costing the nation £27 billion a year. IT skills and certifications body CompTIA reported 45% of of UK businesses are experiencing an "excessive" shortage of IT talent in its "The International Technology Adoption and Workforce Trends Study" in May.

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