With cybersecurity in-vogue, GCHQ is hunting for more spies

By Oliver Smith 13 July 2017
Image: Getty/ RichVintage.

Cybersecurity has never been so hot.

A summer of huge ransomware attacks on the NHS and dozens of businesses has pushed interest in pioneering cybersecurity firms to new heights.

Just this week Darktrace, a British security group which uses artificial intelligence to stop cyber attacks, raised $75m and was valued at $825m in a new funding round.

Darktrace’s 500 employees work on contracts worth $200m with companies like BT, Metro Bank and Peugeot. But Darktrace isn’t the only AI security firm raking in the dough.

Israeli group Hexadite was acquired by Microsoft last month for around $100m, and Crowdstrike, which helped track the Russian hacking of the US Democratic party, achieved a billion-dollar valuation in May and data center security group Illumio raised $125m.

An investment explosion going on.

And Britain’s top spies want in on the act too.

GCHQ's headquarters in Cheltenham is known as the "doughnut. image: GCHQ/Crown Copyright.

GCHQ Spy School – Round 2

Earlier this year we profiled the seven graduates from GCHQ’s first Cyber Accelerator programme, in partnership with Wayra UK.

After its phenomenal success – and with the UK’s cyber security sector now worth over £22bn – GCHQ is now launching a second round to help keep Britain safe.

Read more: GCHQ’s cracking spy school graduates have come of age

Digital minister Matt Hancock called the news a “vital part” of keeping the country digitally safe.

It’s “already helped some of the most innovative cyber security startups develop cutting-edge new products and services.”

The digital firms accepted onto the new scheme will receive a larger £25,000 grant (up from £5,000 last year), along with access to GCHQ experts and free workspace in Cheltenham, near GCHQ’s infamous ‘Doughnut’.

Cyber security entrepreneurs have until 9 August to apply, ahead of the programme starting in October 2017.

Are you a wannabe spook?