Big Tech Poaches Cyber Talent From Britain’s Spy Agency

Hackers Hold Up Investment Bank

The U.K.’s spy agency is having a hard time retaining high-tech workers, who are being poached by technology companies.

Citing the annual report from the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, TechCrunch reported that the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) discussed the growing global cyber threat, as well as the necessity to beef up its own security operations. However, the difficulty retaining key specialists is slowing down that effort.

“As noted previously, the level of resource allocated by government to cyber-related activities has increased considerably, and it is set to do so still further over the next five years,” the report stated. “The continued expansion of cyber-related work is dependent on the government’s ability to recruit and retain cyber specialists. GCHQ previously told us that it struggles to attract and retain a suitable and sufficient cadre of in-house technical specialists because it inevitably has to compete with big technology companies, which are able to pay significantly more.”

A move four years ago to provide better pay packages has worked to some degree in keeping technology workers in particular areas at particular points in their careers at the spy agency. Still, the report noted that the agency can’t compete with tech companies offering salaries four and five times higher. It did argue that its line of work is a strong draw for some people, even if the salary is lower.

Across the pond, the FBI is running into similar problems, with former FBI director James Comey famously saying the FBI could get rid of drug tests in order to employ 420 so-called friendly hackers. He later said he was joking when faced with backlash from Jeff Sessions, who was a senator at the time. The event did underscore the trouble the FBI was having in recruiting and retaining high-tech workers.


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