So UCL-CS, one of the foremost internet colleges in the UK, with about as fine an internet pedigree as it gets, is now at the (semi-secret) forefront of interfacing academia to GCHQ. This both hurts and instills pride in me (since I worked there, and know lots of the folks now “fully involved”). I have to admit that I did something similar while working at UCL-CS (taking cash in my salary from the UK DERA agency, as it continued its ongoing (from 1940+) campaign to out do its sister agency – GCHQ – by doing things THAT ACTUALLY WORK, when spending “strategic funds”).In may case those funds sought to continue a world of ‘commodity crypto””’ and secure PEM/S-MIME email – that class of deployment that doesn’t really work but helps educate.
So, without naming names or department heads, we can look at the structure – and see from it just “what is wanted”. We can assume US universities, but NOT those already hosting schools that are just funded-proxies for certain agencies, will go the same way.
First, beyond the CS dept UCL happened to already have a police forensics-related department, long involved in the “science” of producing reliable reports. Think of it as a training ground for folks who will start in the CIS program. This department brings into the leadership group a hard core, fully indoctrinated scientist – who asks no moral questions (of himself) while imputing all manner of stuff about anyone else.
Second, UCL also happened to have long term affiliations with the US DARPA program – the intent to use intelligent routing and the like to keep the US ahead of the next sputnik. This program is is a gross deception (aiming to ensure theoretical national regulation boundaries on where data is present, when captured, are trivially subverted, on formal grounds). You subvert the foreign router so the packets are on US soil…
Third, UCL also happened to have certain individuals who belong to a certain elite club of early computer scientists who were part of the US/UK liason world, in the 1950s. This was a continuation of the successful, if only half intended, liason in crypto world of the 1930s based on, from the UK, the exchange of Wylie and Turing to Princeton. this is part of the oh so english “old boy club” whose clubby rules transferred easily into the spooky world. One sees this tradition continuing, with UCL folks being given access to certain American forums – that special US/UK relationship.
Back to what apparently it is that GCHQ want …from a “cyber center of excellence” (some mish mash of senior academics from various cooperating departments”) we can list:
1. psychologists (like those who have produced classical work that has already shown up in leaked GCHQ documents that aim to subvert the internet, from “within the mind”). This is a mix of indoctrination of the elite (a little like the boyhood to manhood training in he Hitler Youth “thinking”, in 1930s Europe) and to “engage” in an out-thinking war (with the targets).
2. folks good at phone (in)security, and SIP in particular. This has to focus on putting power into american institutions (vs international forums).
3. folks who are good at academic-math-crypto (vs crypto/cipher design); producing prestige and wide ranging summarization abilities to track overall trends of knowhow and capability dissemination
4. how to leverage routing protocols to bias the “flows” of data in different types of network conditions (including wars).
5. how to indoctrinate folks passing through general engineering school programs so that their expectations of what can and should be achieved with commodity “security designs” is quite limited – to only the classical orange book features. This is the Victorian attitude of don’t educate the working class (since they might get expectations…); or the american race-hating program of don’t educate the “backward” black man (lest he vote).
Above all, the “cyber center of excellence” must be willing to “project the story” – and refuse to talk to the likes of me who speak up (else lose funding that defines one’s “professorship”). in the GCHQ (vs the DRA) culture, one has to find me and my kind embarrassing; and expect folks to use all the “high-educated” techniques to “mis-characterize” the very class of thinking that I represent. One has to think here, of Franco (in 1970, as he aged) or the English (failed) attempts to subvert Leninism in the 1920s, through an early “information war” campaign.
I find it quite amazing JUST HOW effective GCHQ indoctrination of the folks I once knew has been, and how little time it took to pervert academic liberalism and produce not one but several tinpot strutters (with mouths willing to spit venom, when noone things they are being overheard and reported on). All to keep a few dollars flowing!
But this is GCHQ at heart – an organization that relies on the manufacture of social discord to keep its little windows open.