The UK spy agency has headquarters in Cheltenham but has been posting a number of vacancies for jobs in the Greater Manchester area since the end of last year. The agency has confirmed the existence of an office in the area, in an email with SCMagazineUK.com, but declined to go into further details.
Job vacancies have appeared on the websites of Indeed.com, Fish4Jobs and Cyber Security Jobsite since November, while the agency is now advertising on its own website under the 'Careers' section. The adverts are for Java, C and C++ software developers and software engineers as well as IT security engineers.
In these ads, the agency details that prospective software developers and engineers will be “reacting to real-time events by delivering enhancements and systems that have to go live fast – perhaps a matter of minutes or hours” and will be “working on complex systems and infrastructure.” The IT security engineer vacancy – which offers a salary ranging between £25,000 and £42,000, requires applicants to be proficient in programming, computer networks, operating systems, telecommunications systems and IT and network security.
It also spells out how would-be employees will be fighting against new threats in cyber-space. “GCHQ works to keep Britain safe and secure in the face of wide-ranging threats from cyber-space and emerging technologies,” reads one of the adverts.
GCHQ and the Manchester Council wouldn't comment on the site, its location or purpose, although one section of the agency's Careers website promotes the new office.
“Our new site in Greater Manchester is a place where you can build a challenging and rewarding career. As one of the UK's most vibrant cities, Manchester has plenty to offer, from arts, theatre and outstanding night life to world class sport, and major national and international events.”
At this time, the website still lists Cheltenham, Bude, Harrogate and Scarborough as the agency's only UK locations.
A spokesman confirmed to SCMagazineUK.com that the agency is currently recruiting in several positions for a ‘new' building in the area.
“GCHQ is recruiting in the Greater Manchester area. However, for security reasons we don't go into specific location details of some of our sites. For full details on the types of roles GCHQ is recruiting for please visit www.gchq/careers.”
Sarb Sembhi, a security analyst and director at Storm Guidance, says that the recruitment and the new office would suggest that the cyber-landscape has changed considerably since the launch of the 2010 National Cyber Security Strategy with the agency now trying to go beyond just protecting government and critical national infrastructure.
“The one assumption is that the threat landscape has changed and maybe they're looking beyond government and critical infrastructure to the wider UK Plc. They're trying to look at what they can protect,” he told SC.
“Thinking of this logically, a new location may be being used by a brand new team and you wonder if they are looking at something completely different to what they were before,” he said, before going onto suggest that the agency may be focusing specifically on data analysts and people who could work on the offensive – something the NSA has hinted at in light of the Sony Pictures hack.
GCHQ has been quietly active in the Manchester area in recent years, taking part in a job fairs for the local university, where it promoted careers in cyber security, network defence and information assurance, and also participating in the launch of the Manchester Science Festival in October 2012 in a bid to get more young people interested in technology and a potential future career at the agency.