Who are the new heads at NCSC and MI6?

Lindy Cameron, the first woman CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre – a public facing division of GCHQ and primary technical authority on cybersecurity – is replacing its first CEO, Ciaran Martin, when he steps down on 31 August. Cameron will then formally become CEO in October following a handover period.

Cameron has excellent credentials for the role with more than twenty years’ experience in national security policy and crisis management. These include responsibility for the Department for International Development’s programmes in Africa, Asia and the Middle East as its Director General, managing a £4 billion a year budget covering thirty plus country offices.

We’re not talking about a Whitehall desk job either. Cameron was born in Northern Ireland, and is moving from the Northern Ireland Office where she is number two to permanent secretary Sir Jonathan Stephens. Her father Craig was a founding member of Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Centre.

Following a stint in the private sector at McKinsey Cameron served overseas as a Governance specialist in Nigeria, Vietnam and the Balkans, then Head of DFID’s country offices in Iraq (2004-5) and Afghanistan (2006-7). She was seconded to the UK Cabinet Office (covering Africa, Trade, Development and International Institutions) and Foreign Office (as Head of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team and NATO Senior Civilian for Regional Command South West) before returning to DFID in early September 2011 as Head of the Middle East and North Africa Department. She was then Director of the Stabilisation Unit until February 2014 when she became Director Middle East, Humanitarian and Conflict.

Cameron is a graduate of the Ministry of Defence’s Royal College of Defence Studies. She also has a BA in Modern History from Oxford, a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in the US.  She was appointed CB (Companion of the Order of the Bath) in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List for her services to international development.

Her role will include overseeing the NCSC’s response to a wide variety of cyber incidents including those by hostile nation states, improving the UK’s cyber resilience, particularly  critical national infrastructure such as power, water and the banking sectors, identifying the risks and opportunities for the UK in emerging technologies and leading the NCSC’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press statement Cameron commented: “Over the past four years, the NCSC has transformed the UK’s approach to cybersecurity 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.”

The CEO of the NCSC is a Director-General level appointment within GCHQ and reports directly to director, Jeremy Fleming.

Fleming noted how Cameron was joining the NCSC and GCHQ, “… at a time when cybersecurity 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.”

MI6 head – an old hand in this game

Somewhat less public-facing, the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6 – the foreign intelligence service responsible for gathering intelligence outside the UK – has appointed Richard Moore its new chief – known as “C”, taking over from Sir Alex Younger in Autumn.

The three main aims of MI6 are described as stopping terrorism, disrupting the activity of hostile states, and giving the UK a cyber advantage.

Like Cameron, Moore is no rookie. He was born in Libya. He joined MI6 in 1987 has been an MI6 director, a deputy national security adviser in the Cabinet Office and worked in Vietnam, Pakistan and Malaysia and is a former ambassador to Turkey and fluent Turkish speaker. He is moving from the post of political director at the Foreign Office.

In press statement Moore said: “I am pleased and honoured to be asked to return to lead my service. SIS plays a vital role – with MI5 and GCHQ – in keeping the British people safe and promoting UK interests overseas. I look forward to continuing that work alongside the brave and dedicated team at SIS.”

In comments to BBC security correspondent Gordon Corrrea, former MI6 head John Sawers, said that Moore “has the perfect blend of experience – running intelligence operations and holding senior positions in diplomacy and policy formation. He knows how intelligence is produced and how it is best used to protect our national security.”

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