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News: Government-supported MOOC launched to boost cyber security skills


The first ever government-backed MOOC has been launched this week, to help equip the UK with the skills needed to tackle cyber security challenges.

Developed in conjunction with the Department for Business and the Open University, the ‘Massive Open Online Course’ is available to anyone who wants to improve or develop their cyber security skills.

The government hopes the ‘introduction to cyber security’ course will attract up to 200,000 students, improve cyber security skills at all levels, and help to raise awareness of cyber security in the UK.

“The government has a vision for a vibrant, resilient and secure cyberspace, contributing to economic prosperity, national security and a strong society,” said cyber security minister Ed Vaizey.

“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.”

The government is also keen to encourage more young people and women into the profession, he added.

"Employers are looking for skilled people in the cyber security field, now and in the future. 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 being funded by the government’s National Cyber Security Programme, which is investing £860m over five years.

It will be available on the FutureLearn platform, and is open to anyone with internet access. Topics covered include network security, the threat landscape, cryptography, malware and how to manage security risks.

Tim Hamer, director of knowledge at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, 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 course lasts eight weeks and will run four times a year over the next three years, with the first one starting on 13 October 2014.

According to government figures, the UK’s cyber security sector was worth over £6bn in 2013 and employed around 40,000 people. The number of people employed in this sector is predicted to grow in coming years, yet one in six businesses are concerned whether they’ll have sufficient security skills to manage their risks over the next year.

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Lucie Mitchell


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