CISOs ‘will take a keen interest in’ GCHQ-certified MSc cyber security courses

By Sooraj Shah
01 Aug 2014 View Comments
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GCHQ took "a step in the right direction" in certifying six Master's degrees in cyber security and CISOs would be relishing the prospect of being able to differentiate talent, according to a major UK recruitment firm.

Earlier today, the spy agency announced that four universities have gained full certification from GCHQ for their Master's courses: Oxford University, Royal Holloway, Edinburgh Napier University and Lancaster University.

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Meanwhile, Cranfield University and the University of Surrey were given provisional certified statuses for their Master's courses.

Simon Hockridge, an associate director at IQ Executive, a division of the InterQuest Group, told Computing that the certified courses could help organisations differentiate between talent, particularly as there is a much-talked about cyber-security skills gap which has left businesses short of talent.

The recruitment firm has seen a significant shift towards acquiring cyber security skills, particularly from clients in the financial services and banking areas.

And with more mobile and web offerings at companies, Hockridge believes there is an increased pressure on CISOs and CIOs to grow their security prevention teams.

"To date there has been an apparent skills shortage for candidates with the specialist cyber security skills that organisations are seeking; for this reason there has been a trend where candidates with transferable skills are moving from previous roles in areas like telephony, online payments and government organisations," Hockridge explained.

"This skills shortage has led to salary increases in the cyber security space and in this climate of demand versus reward, I am certain that many CISOs will have read the GCHQ's announcement of six new cyber-security qualifications with great interest," he added.

According to Hockridge, businesses are failing to recruit candidates with the specific skills to match the niche requirements that organisations have, and he suggested that certified courses would help firms to recruit suitable personnel.

"Candidates sourced thus far have been coming from government organisations and also from other countries like the US, which have more existing cyber security qualifications; often these candidates have a distinct advantage in this arena," said Hockridge.

"It is certainly a step in the right direction for GCHQ to certify courses and qualifications. Of course time will tell how well specific courses like these can keep up with a rapidly ever-changing cyber security market, and how in tune these courses are with business demand," he added.

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