UK government and Open University to offer online cyber security courses

The UK government will team up with the Open University to launch a cyber security course that will enable 200,000 people to study the topic online.

Speaking at the media re-opening of Bletchley Park, after its restoration project, the Cabinet Office deputy director of Cyber Defence and Incident Management Natalie Black said the initiative will help develop cyber skills in Britain.

“This area is incredibly challenging. Bletchley is a great reminder of what we can do effectively in the UK when we all work together and pool our talent,” Black said.

“At the moment we are working very hard to develop a pipeline of cyber talent. We are working hard with e-skills to give people the opportunity to transfer to cyber careers and very soon we’ll be launching a new initiative at the Open University where we hope to allow 200,000 people to study cyber security online.”

The official press opening of Bletchley Park

Black could not say exactly when the initiative will launch, but she did reveal that the effort will aim to share real-time information with students and that the university will work closely with industry.

Black said the initiative is yet another step the government is taking in its fight against cyber crime. “A key tenet of the national cyber security strategy is developing the cyber security skills we need to keep the UK safe and to do that we have to work together, we have to work through industry and academia,” she added.

“It goes without saying that the government takes cyber security incredibly seriously and we’re investing £860m over the course of five years.”

We expect the government to announce the partnership within the next month or so. As yet we don’t know if students will be charged tuition to sign up, or how long the course will last.

Also at the opening event on Monday, former code-breaker Betty Webb – who deciphered secret code for the government at Bletchley Park during the Second World War – called Edward Snowdon’s whistleblowing “utterly appalling”.

Speaking in an interview on stage, Webb slammed Edward Snowdon’s leaks of top-secret information from the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Bletchley Park announced in October that it had signed a five-year deal with security firm McAfee to provide cyber security workshops for kids so they can be safer online.

The workshops will be part of an International Cyber Security Exhibition and McAfee will provide a computer learning zone will be provided along with a security education officer.

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