Press release

Government supports UK's next generation of cyber security professionals

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The first government supported MOOC to inspire and educate the next generation of cyber security professionals in the UK launches today.

The first government supported ‘Massive Open Online Course’ (MOOC) to inspire and educate the next generation of cyber security professionals in the UK launches today (3 september 2014).

The free online course has been developed with the Open University and is the first of its kind anywhere in the world to gain government support. The course is for anyone wanting to improve their knowledge and skills and has the potential to reach 200,000 students. It will help to inspire the next generation of cyber security professionals, ensuring the UK has the knowledge and capability to meet current and future challenges. It will also help to raise awareness of cyber security amongst the general public.

This week sees the largest gathering of world leaders ever to take place in the UK as Wales plays host to the 2014 NATO Summit. The UK’s role in global defence and world business will be on the world stage as international leaders seek to address the full range of threats that we face, including the increasing proliferation of cyber-attacks.

The NATO Summit shines a spotlight on the UK’s thriving defence industry. Government is working closely with the defence sector to secure new investment, creating highly-skilled jobs. The UK cyber security sector alone is worth over £6 billion and employs around 40,000 people.

Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey said:

The government has a vision for a vibrant, resilient and secure cyberspace, contributing to economic prosperity, national security and a strong society. This vision can only become a reality if we have a strong cyber security skills base in the UK, both within government and the private sector. The launch of the cyber security MOOC takes us a step closer to that goal.

Employers are looking for skilled people in the cyber security field, now and in the future and we’re particularly keen to encourage more young people and women into the profession. It’s vital that we have the people and the skills to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the information revolution.

The course is funded by the government’s National Cyber Security Programme which aims to improve cyber security skills at all levels and is investing £860 million over 5 years to protect and promote the UK in cyber space.

The Open University has worked with the government to develop the course, which will be available on FutureLearn.com, a platform which hosts free online courses from a range of UK and international universities.

Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, Martin Bean, said:

For more than 40 years the OU has been offering free access to a whole range of learning materials, giving people the chance to learn new skills anywhere, anytime.

FutureLearn not only brings together some of the UK’s top universities, but also offers the chance to partner with organisations to deliver skills where they are needed most. This course will combine the expertise of the OU’s leading academics with the insight only the government can offer in this important field.

Tim Hamer, Director of Knowledge at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which is supporting the MOOC, said:

With increasing threats emerging daily, online courses such as this have a vital role to play in raising awareness of the need to improve our cyber security. The course will also help to fill the shortage of skilled cyber security professionals that the UK needs.

The ‘Introduction to Cyber Security’ course is open to anyone with access to the internet and will cover subjects such as network security, the threat landscape, cryptography, malware and how to manage security risks. The course will enable anyone – from young people considering study or a career in computing, to existing employees wanting to improve their knowledge and skills, or members of the public interested in staying safe online – to gain an insight into cyber security and have the opportunity to take their interest to the next level.

Learners can register for the course from today (3 September 2014) by visiting www.futurelearn.com/courses/introduction-to-cyber-security.

The course will be offered 4 times per year over the next 3 years. The first offering of the course begins on Monday 13 October 2014.

Notes for editors

  1. ‘Introduction to Cyber Security’ supports the government’s aim to improve cyber security skills at all levels and ensure the UK has the knowledge and capability to meet current and future challenges. It has been funded through the government’s National Cyber Security Programme which is investing £860 million over 5 years to protect and promote the UK in cyber space.
  2. The course has been developed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and The Open University in conjunction with a range of government departments and agencies, including the Cabinet Office and GCHQ.
  3. The course is part of the government’s strategy to improve cyber security skills at all levels, from schools to post-graduate learning. A recent skills exercise BIS conducted with industry confirmed that employers are looking for skilled people in the cyber security field, now and in the future.
  4. The course is suitable for anyone and will help to upskill the general population, as well as inspire those who may want to pursue further study or a career in this area. Students could progress on to further courses, such as undergraduate degrees in areas like computer science. There are also now a range of Masters courses in cyber security which are accredited by GCHQ. The course complements other government initiatives to raise awareness of cyber security issues, such as the Cyber Streetwise campaign for consumers and SMEs.
  5. Offered through FutureLearn, the social learning platform, the online course consists of 8 modules delivered over 8 weeks and will be offered 4 times a year for 3 years. It is designed to be done at the learner’s convenience and is accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop devices. No prior qualifications are required to enrol on the course: participants simply need an email address and an interest in the subject.
  6. The course covers 8 modules over 8 weeks. These are: the Threat Landscape; Authentication; Malware; Networking and Communications; Cryptography; Network Security; When Your Defences Fail, and Managing Security Risks. Each module is expected to take around 2 to 3 hours of study. It is an introduction and does not lead to a formal qualification.
  7. FutureLearn is a social learning platform wholly owned by The Open University. It offers free online courses from more than 20 globally renowned UK and international universities, specialist education institutions and cultural bodies like the British Council, British Library and British Museum.
  8. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing their members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  9. Find out what is happening at the NATO Summit on gov.uk or join the debate on Twitter through @NATOWales or using #NATOSummitUK.
  10. Cyber Security Facts and Figures
    • in 2013 the UK cyber security sector was worth over £6bn and employed around 40,000 people
    • the number of people employed in the UK cyber security sector is predicted to grow in coming years
    • 1 in 6 businesses are not confident they’ll have sufficient security skills to manage their risks in the next year
    • 81% of large organisations had an information security breach in the past year
    • 60% of small businesses had an information security breach in the past year
    • £600k - £1.15m is the average cost to a large organisation of its worst security breach of the year (up from £450k - £850k a year ago)
    • £65k - £115k is the average cost to a small business of its worst security breach of the year (up from £35k - £65k a year ago)