Computer Network Operations

Experienced. Immediate. True pioneers.
We act fast to counter the latest cyber threats.

Experts in computer security

GCHQ are world class experts in understanding computer networks.  We use this knowledge both to protect the UK's sensitive information and to provide valuable intelligence, including carrying out computer network operations against terrorists, criminals and others posing a serious threat to the UK.  Strict legal controls, safeguards and requirements apply to  GCHQ's activities, which can only be carried out for the statutory purposes and in support of the national security priorities that are set by ministers.

At GCHQ, Computer Network Operations Specialists work in both cyber defence and cyber intelligence roles.  We are looking for committed and responsible individuals who have the potential to carry out operations to keep the UK safe.  In cyber defence roles, our operations specialists may find themselves working in a team detecting and preventing attempts to attack the critical national infrastructure, or seeking to defend government systems against criminals seeking to steal information, identities or money.  Cyber intelligence specialists might need to develop software to access the computers of a terrorist group, or carry out operations to retrieve vital online clues about the location and identity of members of an organised crime ring.

We ensure that our specialists receive the training necessary to develop the right skills for the job.  We attract people with a diverse range of backgrounds and experience, so training is tailored to meet the needs of the individual and the role.  The need to keep up with changing technology means that staff need to continue learning and developing throughout a career in computer network operations.

Computer Network operations specialist roles

What our people say

What do you most enjoy about working at GCHQ?

I am interested in my work

My manager is considerate of my life outside work

I am treated with respect by the people I work with

I am proud when I tell others I am part of GCHQ

I understand how the work of GCHQ makes a difference to the UK


Cyber & Technical Operations

Working in a high pressured environment, you’ll be developing creative solutions to technical problems on live operations. With a flexible and focussed approach, and an interest and aptitude in network security and coding, you’ll be using a wide range of technical abilities rather than deep specialist skills.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to develop your skills, but a technical qualification or experience in low level software, network security, malware analysis, penetration testing, or vulnerability discovery and mitigation would be useful. Most importantly you should be ready and willing to learn.

Computer Security Specialists

In this role you’ll help us to detect, understand and combat the cyber threat to UK (or GCHQ’s) computer networks. This involves analysing sophisticated malware, performing forensic analysis of compromised machines and networks, looking for and mitigating vulnerabilities in software and systems before they’re exploited by adversaries, and working to build strong security protections into new government systems.

If you’re skilled and/or interested in programming and network security, malware analysis, penetration testing or vulnerability discovery and mitigation, or you have experience of working as a Technical Analyst or Engineer in a Security Operations Centre (SOC) then this is the route for you.

Cyber Analyst Summer School 2017

Cyber Analyst Summer School is our unique 6-week summer school that gives you a fantastic opportunity to team up with a variety of people and enjoy an interesting and stimulating learning experience. Join us and you’ll have the opportunity to really understand how the internet works and how GCHQ uses this to protect and serve everybody in Britain, from the public to the armed services. This is a really great way to learn, develop new skills, meet new people and build new future opportunities.

Don’t just take our words, look at some of the comments from the 2016 summer students on their experiences:

“I came into this course with virtually no computer knowledge and after only 6 weeks, I find myself making jokes like a proper techy. I feel like I’ve learnt so much yet I have thoroughly enjoyed every day. It’s been amazing to feel like a part of something so important. I would say that what has made the course for me has been the people; staff and students alike; who are all incredible. Thank you for an unforgettable experience”.

“If you had asked me what I had hoped this course would be like before I came, I would never have thought it would be as enjoyable as this. The quality of people, learning and equipment here surpassed all of my expectations. We have also been given great insight into the amazing work GCHQ does for the country, and into possible career opportunities. All of the course was presented in an accessible way that lets you learn without realising you’re learning. I can’t thank all of the staff and other students enough for my time here. I can’t think of a better way to have spent my summer, and I can’t believe we were paid for this!”

“The amount I’ve learnt over the 6 weeks is insane, and the things I can now do (that I thought I would never be able to do) are just unreal. I honestly never thought a 6 week course could give me so much and influence a new career path like it has”.

We’re looking for talented people, who are on track for a 2:2 Honours degree in any subject, and who have an interest in and passion for problem solving. If you're curious about technology, into the latest gadgets and are looking to learn something new, this could be the challenge you’ve been waiting for. In return we’ll provide the summer school and give you free accommodation for the 6 weeks and you’ll also receive approximately £250 per week (for 5 days course attendance per week), paid in arrears.

Cyber Insights Summer School 2017 - Cheltenham

If you’re a Computer Science, Physics, Engineering or Maths student or on a closely related course our ten week Cyber Insights Summer School will give you unique insights into all aspects of cyber. Working with a variety of technologies from legacy systems to cutting edge mobile, you’ll learn from world-leading GCHQ and industry cyber experts. It’s an exciting, challenging and intellectually stimulating experience where you’ll add to your technical skills in a range of areas, such as ethical hacking, securing networks and testing the strengths and weaknesses of operating systems. You’ll also discover the unique ways we use technology to defend the UK from cyber attack. And in the final week of the programme you’ll have the chance to put your new skills into action in a real-time ‘Capture the Flag’ cyber challenge.

All we require is that you’re graduating between summer 2017-2020 and on course to earn a minimum 2:2 degree in Computer Science, Physics, Engineering or Maths, a combination thereof or a closely related course.  You should also be passionate about technology and have outstanding problem-solving skills.  You’ll need the ability to programme in at least one language from, Java, C (including C++), Perl, JavaScript or Python.  During the programme, you’ll receive approx £250 per week (this will be paid in arrears) and free accommodation. At its end, we’ll present you with a certificate to show you’ve completed a cyber course with the UK’s recognised experts. All Summer School students will also have the option to be interviewed for either a place on future technology schemes or for a permanent role as a Computer Network Operations Specialist.

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