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New head of GCHQ cyber security agency announced

Cyber Security | September 29, 2020

A civil servant who has served in conflict zones including Afghanistan and Iraq, and has worked in the international development field, will be taking over as the head of one of Britain’s cyber intelligence agencies.

Lindy Cameron will replace Ciaran Martin as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ, at a time of ongoing controversy over the performance of the intelligence agencies in countering cyber campaigns by hostile states.

A recent report by the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) strongly criticised the failure of the government and the security and intelligence services for a failure to combat Russian propaganda offensives during the last general election and the Brexit and Scottish independence referendums.

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GCHQ and the NCSC told the Committee that Russia had targeted critical national infrastructure and government departments and posed an “immediate and urgent threat” in cyberspace. Yet, the MPs found, as late as 2016, the time of the Brexit vote, GCHQ only devoted just 10 per cent of its resources to Russia. There has been a significant rise in those resources since then.

Ms Cameron’s new post will also include dealing with the fallout from the decision to bar Huawei from the UK’s 5G network by 2027. The move, a volte-face by Boris Johnson’s government, came after a review was carried out by the NCSC following the impositions of new sanctions by the US on the Chinese telecommunications multinational.

Mr Martin, the first head of the NCSC, has been appointed Professor of Practice in Public Management at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University.

Ms Cameron was born in Northern Ireland where her father Craig was a founding member of the Corrymela Peace and Reconciliation Centre, set up to promote dialogue between the Protestant and Catholic communities during the Troubles.

She joins the NCSC from the Northern Ireland Office where she was deputy head to the Permanent Secretary, Sir Jonathan Stephens. She had previously served as the Director-General in charge of the Department for International Development (Dfid) programmes in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Ms Cameron, a graduate of the Ministry of Defence’s Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) served in Baghdad and Kabul for Dfid, and Helmand for the Foreign Office at particularly violent times in both conflicts. She worked in the Cabinet Office during the 2008 financial crisis.

Ms Cameron said following her appointment: “Over the past four years, the NCSC has transformed the UK’s approach to cyber security and set a benchmark for other countries to follow. I am delighted to join the NCSC and relish the opportunity to take this world-leading organisation to the next level.”

Jeremy Fleming, the GCHQ Director said: “I am excited to welcome Lindy to the NCSC and GCHQ. She joins at a time when cyber security has never been more essential to the nation’s resilience and prosperity. Lindy’s unique blend of experience in government, overseas and in security and policy issues make her the ideal leader to take NCSC into the next stage of its delivery.”

This content was originally published here.