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NIO’s Lindy Cameron to succeed Ciaran Martin as NCSC CEO

The director-general of the government’s Northern Ireland Office, Lindy Cameron, is set to become the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) second chief executive.

The senior civil servant, who has also served as a director-general in the Department for International Development (Dfid) and worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be formally appointed CEO of the cyber security agency in October.

The appointment will follow a handover period with her predecessor, Ciaran Martin, who will remain in the post until the end of August. Martin, NCSC’s first CEO, is planning to take on new roles in business and academia, including as professor of practice in public management at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government.

In a statement issued this morning (28 July), Cameron said: “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.”

NCSC said Cameron has more than 20 years’ experience working in national security policy and crisis management. She studied history at Oxford University before joining the consultancy firm McKinsey. She was appointed head of DfiD Afghanistan in 2006 and subsequently worked in Kabul and then Helmand province as the head of the foreign office’s reconstruction team. In June last year she was appointed director-general of the Northern Ireland Office.

In her new role, which is a director-general level appointment, Cameron will report directly to Jeremy Fleming, who is director of NCSC’s parent agency GCHQ. In a statement, Fleming 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.”

He added: “I would like to thank Ciaran Martin for the way he has pioneered cyber security in the UK. He leaves the NCSC having led the development of a world leading capability. We wish him the best of success as he embarks on the next stage of his career in academia and business.”

Before being appointed as NCSC’s first CEO in February 2016, Martin served on the board of GCHQ as the head of cyber security, having previously worked in the Treasury and the Cabinet Office. While working for GCHQ, he recommended the creation of the NCSC, which was announced by the government in November 2015.

During his tenure, the agency has sought to bolster Britain’s cyber defences attacks while also conducting a number of investigations into campaigns orchestrated by hostile state actors working on behalf of the Chinese, Russian, Iranian and North Korean governments.

The agency also handled the UK’s response to the WannaCry and NotPetya cyber attacks of 2018. But perhaps its most high-profile assignment has been a long-running assessment the security risk posed by the Chinese telecoms equipment provider Huawei. The agency had initially determined that any risks posed by the vendor could be mitigated by restricting the role it plays in the UK’s 5G telecoms networks.

However, that judgement changed in recent months after the US issued new trade restriction on the company. The government has since vowed to ban the company from the UK’s telecoms networks.