Ciaran Martin, the founding chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), will step down from his post in the summer.
The 45-year-old, a career civil servant, was appointed to the board of UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in December 2013. He recommended the establishment of the NCSC – a government organisation to offer support and guidance for the public and private sector in avoiding digitised threats – to ministers after the 2015 General Election. It was created the following year under his leadership.
The NCSC, which is based in London, employs around 1,000 staff and has an annual operating budget of £250m.
According to its own data, since 2016, the NCSC has dealt with over 2,000 major cyber security incidents. The organisation has also provided evidence to enable the government to publicly name states behind cyber attacks and has taken steps to enhance national infrastructure security, including telecommunications.
It has also helped the government to identify and decommission fraudulent websites, namely those which spoof public sector services such as HM Revenue and Customs.
“When we created the NCSC, we set out to achieve something truly special,” Martin said in a statement. “I hope and believe we are leaving UK cyber security in much better shape.”
He added: “Challenges around securing technology are only going to get ever more complex, so it’s right that after six-and-a-half years that someone else takes this world-class organisation to the next level.”
GCHQ has confirmed that the search for Martin’s replacement is underway and is confident of appointing one in the coming months. After leaving his post at the NCSC, Martin will become a visiting professor at King’s College London from September. He is also set to take up a role in the private sector, but is bound by civil service rules preventing him from disclosing further details of his plans.