June 28, 2009:
Britain's GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters, their equivalent of the NSA) is seeking to hire hackers (criminal records not a problem) for a new network security unit to develop better security for British government computer networks. To that end, GCHQ wants to hire some people who have spent some time working in the Dark Side of the Internet. GCHQ also wants to develop some offensive capabilities. All this is to cost less than half a billion dollars a year, indicating a work force of under 2,000. It would appear that GCHQ would get some help from the American NSA, which is taking a major role in helping to set up the new U.S. Cyber Command.
GCHQ has long had the capability of tapping into the Internet and satellite phones. The British SIGINT experts have long worked with the American NSA on many projects, and constantly share information. At the same time, GCHQ is moving into a lot of new directions. Late last year, members of GCHQ were sent to Afghanistan. These GCHQ personnel are "signals intelligence" (SIGINT) experts, and work closely with the British forces in Afghanistan to obtain information about enemy electronic communications. The Taliban and al Qaeda are often forced to use electronic communications, because couriers are too slow and vulnerable, and when they do go on the air, there is a good chance that GCHQ or NSA will be listening in. The GCHQ personnel with the front line units in Afghanistan are also there to make sure the troops get useful information as soon as possible. Such data often does not age well, and is more valuable the sooner it is used.