The excellent Benedict Cumberbatch is in the news again, this time for his Academy Award nomination for his role as codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.
Turing, of course, is credited for developing a strategy to improve an existing method of cracking the Enigma code and allowing the allies, during the Second World War, to intercept messages from the German high command to its navy.
Turing worked for the codebreaking arm of British Intelligence, which has become the modern-day GCHQ.
He developed one of the earliest-known computers and is widely regarded as being the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
He did some of his best work for a country besieged by a war borne of intolerance and fear. Turing himself lived a secret life as a homosexual, when being such a person was illegal.
It is ironic when, at a time when his life’s work is being brought once again into the spotlight with Cumberbatch’s Oscar nomination, GCHQ is gearing up to fight another war on the technological front, in a country that is still besieged by intolerance and fear, using algorithms developed by Turing.
It has announced, along with the US, that it will be pitching its top minds against our own banks in an attempt to crack not the code of the Enigma machine, but the code of the computer security systems we trust to keep our personal data safe.
They won’t just be targeting the North End branch of Barclays, though – their first targets will be banks on Wall Street and in the City.
I’m not lucky enough to trade in stocks or have an account at Coutts, but I’m pleased that these so-called technological war games are happening.
I’m surprised banks and other private and public institutions which hold sensitive data don’t constantly invite hackers to try to get in, to ensure their defences remain unbreachable.
I have no problem with anyone from GCHQ being able to see the size of my overdraft, or how much I spent on shoes last month, if it means that the people who might cause me harm are not able to do so.