What we do
To protect the UK from cyber-attacks, terrorism and espionage, we use cutting-edge technology, technical creativity and a wide range of partnerships. We use our capabilities to collect intelligence, analyse data, and create real-world outcomes.
But this is only possible because we’re made up of different backgrounds, skills and personalities. We’re proud to collaborate and proud to work together with purpose. It’s how we stay ahead of ever-evolving threats and keep the UK safe.
We work with our partners to identify and disrupt terror attacks against the UK and our allies. We tackle all sorts of online activity, and we’re constantly evolving to keep up with new threats.
The UK's cyber security mission is led by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ. The NCSC protects the UK's critical services from cyber-attacks, manages major incidents and provides advice. Find out more about the NCSC.
Serious & Organised Crime
Working closely with government and law enforcement partners, we reduce the harm that serious and organised crime causes and we also disrupt criminal activity. We work on topics like child sexual exploitation, people trafficking and drugs smuggling.
We play a crucial role in shaping the Defence and Foreign policy of the UK Government in support of national security. We help to counter state threats and ensure the Rules Based International System is upheld.
Support to Defence
We work to protect Defence personnel and support an integrated approach to combat operations. We’ve been providing vital intelligence to British troops around the world and continue to do so now. We might be deployed alongside them or we might achieve this remotely.
Talent that covers the country
A large proportion of our people work from our headquarters in Cheltenham. In fact, we’re a well-known Gloucestershire landmark and our building is affectionately referred to as the Doughnut! It now houses our 24/7 operations centre, around 16 million historical artefacts, cafes and a gym. Plus, we have a free shuttle bus for staff.
Bude is situated along the sweeping North Cornwall coastline and is known for its dramatic cliffs and beautiful scenery. Great beaches mean the area is an ideal location for outdoor water sports – everything from surfing to canoeing. And with easy access to the South West coast path, there are also excellent walking routes. With a range of arts festivals and a variety of great restaurants, it’s a place where you’ll find an enjoyable lifestyle and a rewarding career.
Scarborough is a historical seaside town on the North East coast of England. It offers great coastal and countryside living, while still being within easy reach of cities like York and Leeds. While GCHQ Scarborough is the oldest signals intelligence site in continuous operations in the world, it’s recently been refurbished. With an innovation centre, on-site restaurant, gym and museum, it’s an amazing place to work.
Just a stone’s throw from the beautiful countryside and the Pennines, Manchester is a city that can offer it all. It’s known for its hugely influential technology scene, alongside growing creative and media communities. When you join, you’ll have an exciting role in a vibrant city and work in an office that actively develops partnerships with industry and academia. Plus, you'll benefit from cycle to work schemes, flexible working and public transport discounts.
Our London bases help us to maintain our partnerships with the rest of government, industry and academia. Our main site in Nova South, Victoria, is home to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), where we offer expert cyber support to the public, businesses and industry. With the capital on your doorstep, our London bases are some of the most exciting places to be. You’ll have plenty of restaurants, theatres and museums to visit!
Who we work with
Keeping the UK safe is a joint effort. We work really closely with MI5 and SIS (otherwise known as MI6). Together, we tackle cyber-attacks, terrorism and espionage. With different skills and different perspectives, we’re able to share knowledge and learn from each other. But we all work towards the same goal – keeping the UK safe.
MI5 is the UK’s national security intelligence agency. MI5 protects the UK from within the UK. Made up of around 4,000 individuals, MI5 work against threats such as terrorism, espionage, sabotage, cyber threats, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Find out more about MI5 here.
MI6 is the UK’s secret intelligence service. They protect the UK from overseas. They develop foreign contacts, gather intelligence and navigate any risks to the UK’s national security, economy and military. And they also work to resolve international conflict and prevent the spread of weapons. Find out more about MI6 here.
History in the making
We were established after the start of WW1 when signals intelligence provided valuable information about enemy plans. Back then, we were known as the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS).
We moved to Bletchley Park in 1939 and became known as GCHQ shortly after. By the end of WW2, over 10,000 people (including 7,500 women) worked at Bletchley Park.
With the help of talented cryptanalysts – most famously Alan Turing – we deciphered the German ‘Enigma’ code. We gained intelligence that helped to end WW2.
In 1944, we became the National Technical Authority for information security.
In the 1970s, we developed public key cryptography which underpins many internet standards today.
In 2016, we opened the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), bringing together expertise from multiple organisations.
We celebrated our centenary year in 2019 and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Keep scrolling to see more of our history