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A day in the life of a cyber security agent

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Erum Nawaz

I studied Computer Science at university, and was hooked on Encryption and IT Security. So when I read about the Cyber Intelligence Response Centre (D-CIRC) I got in touch with the team to find out more.

D-CIRC is DWP’s version of the National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP), launched by the Government in 2011 to take advantage of digital communications and minimise the risks. They were originally part of Universal Credit, but they’re now part of the wider DWP Technology team.

Cyber intelligence conjures up visions of James Bond-like images of dimly-lit, secret underground offices, and operatives talking with urgency in hushed tones on their headsets. The reality is quite different. They're based in a normal office in Victoria behind a very large, heavy door.

The team consists of a number of technical and non-technical staff (none sat behind bullet proof glass) whose primary objective is to analyse information to search for anything unusual. The team has two broad functions; to gather information and produce intelligence.

On a daily basis the team is reviewing third party information, threat feeds, Government information and open source intelligence to understand who might want to attack our systems, and how they might do it.

Their job is to gauge the threat level, and feed this information to the teams at DWP so they can make sure the security on our systems is constantly updated. DWP has put security at the heart of design, because we need people to trust us with their sensitive information.

Many of the same security challenges we have are shared by other government departments, and private sector organisations. So we share intelligence and lessons learned across government, and externally so we can all learn from each other.

It’s a long way from where I started at DWP. I joined 12 years ago as a front-line customer services advisor in a Jobcentre on Edgware Road .I then moved to employer engagement and then into a Jobcentre Plus office where I managed almost everything from customer compliance (local fraud) to JSA, DEA, ESA and lone parent offer.

I love the fact that I’ve been able to move around to different teams, and combine my interests with my job. I also like the fact that this job doesn’t stand still. As one of my colleagues said “This isn’t a journey that ends, it’s more like continuous evolution."

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