THE UK GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS HEADQUARTERS (GCHQ) has announced the certification of six Master's degree programmes in cyber security as online attacks become increasingly more prevalent.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced the accreditation of the courses when he visited GCHQ on Friday, marking what the government is calling "another significant step in the development of the UK's knowledge, skills and capability in all fields of Cyber Security."
The six successful university courses whose cyber security Masters degrees have been awarded GCHQ certified status, are: Edinburgh Napier University's MSc in Advanced Security and Digital Forensics; Lancaster University's MSc in Cyber Security; the University of Oxford's MSc in Software and Systems Security; and Royal Holloway, University of London for its MSc in Information Security.
The remaining two have "provisional certified" status as the courses haven't completed their first year yet. These have been awarded to Cranfield University for its MSc in Cyber Defence and Information Assurance and the University of Surrey for its MSc in Information Security. These will become fully certified when the first year of courses is completed, ending in autumn this year.
It's worth noting that these are not brand new courses set up by GCHQ, rather the courses have been recognised by the government for hitting the criteria it thinks they deserve.
"The National Cyber Security Strategy recognises education as key to the development of cyber security skills and, earlier in the year, UK universities were invited to submit their cyber security Masters degrees for certification against GCHQ's stringent criteria for a broad foundation in cyber security," said GCHQ in an announcement.
"Partnerships have been key throughout the process with the assessment of applicants based on the expert views of industry, academia, professional bodies, GCHQ and other government departments."
The six successful Masters degrees are said to provide "well-defined and appropriate" content on the field of cyber security, and development of the GCHQ certified Masters degrees will help the successful universities to promote the quality of their courses and help prospective students make better informed choices when looking for a highly valued qualification.
It will also assist employers to differentiate between candidates when employing cyber security staff, GCHQ said.
That's not all for the GCHQ certified courses programme. There will be another call for Masters certification in late 2014, which will extend to degrees focused on critical areas of cyber security, such as digital forensics. µ