The contestants of last year's Cyber-Security Challenge final Masterclass, also an organisation looking to nurture upcoming talent.
The contestants of last year's Cyber-Security Challenge final Masterclass, also an organisation looking to nurture upcoming talent.

A cyber-academy has been launched to fast track the next generation of highly-skilled online defenders to protect against cyber-attacks.

The Cyber-Retraining Academy, funded by the Government's National Cyber-Security Programme, has been created in response to immediate demand from businesses and Government for more security professionals armed with the skills to tackle today's cyber-threat.

The programme, delivered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in partnership with information security training provider SANS Institute, will see students take a high-intensity, GCHQ-certified, 10-week course to give them the tools they need to work in the industry.

The free training, delivered by highly qualified SANS instructors all active in the field of cyber-security, does not require previous cyber-security experience and is targeted at high-aptitude people looking to retrain.

Graduates will be exposed to malicious code and practical challenges not seen in other training schemes. They will be ready to hit the ground running and secure a job on completion of the course.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “This new academy will give students the skills the nation needs to fight cyber-attacks and help us achieve our ambition of making the UK the safest place to live and do business online. The programme is integral to our ambitious skills plan and will fast track new talent into this competitive, exciting and rewarding field, which last year contributed almost £22 billion to the UK economy.”

Fifty carefully selected candidates will complete hands-on exercises including learning how to find flaws in unfamiliar systems and deal with problems such as a virus outbreak. They will also study the mindset of hackers, build a watertight business network and learn how to help firms tackle the most common threats.

Designed to create well-rounded security professionals, the programme will also test students' soft skills, including briefing fictitious management teams on their proposed security policy recommendations. Graduates will also leave with a Global Information Assurance Certification.

The programme will connect course graduates to industry and, through an online portal unique to the Cyber-Retraining Academy, offer leading cyber-security employers a chance to track students' performance and progress.

UK managing director at SANS Institute ‎Stephen Jones said: “The programme is designed to address the skills gap here and now, condensing cyber-training into a matter of weeks. There's no substitute for recreating a real life environment and here students are exposed to malicious code and practical challenges not seen in other training programmes. This is a great opportunity for candidates looking for a secure and exciting career, and one where they can command a very good salary. The industry is only showing signs of growth, as organisations and governments continue to strengthen their cyber-defences.”