Colossus veteran inspires Bletchley Park Qufaro’s first cyber-security graduates

Aaron Revell,(17), receiving his cerificate from former codebreaker Irene Dixon,(93), at TNMOC, Bletchley Park, 5th September 2017.Photos by John Robertson.
Aaron Revell,(17), receiving his cerificate from former codebreaker Irene Dixon,(93), at TNMOC, Bletchley Park, 5th September 2017.Photos by John Robertson.

Ten students from the first cyber-security qualification to emerge from Bletchley Park Qufaro were inspired by meeting Irene Dixon, one of the first operators of Colossus Mk I and therefore an early pioneer of cyber security.

In total 60 students successfully completed the Qufaro online CyberEPQ (Extended Project Qualification), which is equivalent to an AS-level. The online EPQ course is a first step towards the establishment of a National College of Cyber Security by Qufaro on Bletchley Park.

Demand from individuals and schools for the next online Qufaro CyberEPQ is high with more than 250 pre-registration enquiries from individuals and schools already received.

Registration opens on October 23, 2017.

At the first graduation ceremony in front of the Rebuild of Colossus at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park, 94-year-old Irene Dixon spoke of her pioneering secret wartime work: “We didn’t fully understand the importance of the work we were doing with Colossus until decades after the Second World War,” she said.

“Later we learned Colossus was used to break Lorenz, the German High Command messages! I see quite clearly that these students today are on the first steps of their career to safeguard our country from cyber threats – the way we were protecting the country from Hitler.”

Amongst the graduates who attended were three Scottish students who, through an initiative by their teacher, had taken the Qufaro CyberEPQ outside school hours.

One is about to start university, the second is applying for a bursary linked to Cyber Security, and the third is in the final year of school.

“All three students really enjoyed and benefited from the course,” said computer science teacher Colin Drummond from Bathgate Academy in West Lothian. “I could see that they had special talent and we looked to find a way to build upon this in their education. The course was excellent and I know that today they were absolutely thrilled to meet someone who worked in a similar field more than seventy years ago.”

Tim Reynolds, a co-founder and board member of Qufaro, said, “This is the start of a hugely important initiative that will seek out talent throughout the country so that society can be protected from the growing cyber threats that we all see too clearly in our daily lives. We are progressing our plans for a National College of Cyber Security on historic Bletchley Park and welcome those across industry who wish to play their part.”

As graduates at the first Qufaro CyberEPQ demonstrated, the new course is already opening doors for new talent in cyber careers. Built on National Occupation Standards, the only government-accepted definition of the cyber industry, the course modules are wide-ranging, industry-relevant and constantly being updated.

They include cyber language and research, security vulnerability testing, intrusion detection, digital forensics, security architecture, business resilience and security compliance. New modules for 2017 include Cryptography and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

To enrol for the next Qufaro CyberEPQ, see www.cyberepq.org.uk