Former DfID and FCO official Lindy Cameron to lead National Cyber Security Centre

Replacement for Ciaran Martin announced
Lindy Cameron in Afghanistan Photo; UK in Afghanistan

By Sam Trendall

03 Aug 2020

Lindy Cameron will take over as chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre in October.

She joins the cyber intelligence agency from the Northern Ireland Office, where she was appointed as director general last June. Over the course of more than two decades in the civil service, she has also worked for the Cabinet Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Much of her government career has been spent with the Department for International Development, and she has particular expertise in working in conflict zones, having served DfID postings in Baghdad and Kabul, and worked for the FCO in Helmand. 

Before joining government, she began her career with management consultant McKinsey.

In her new role, she will be charged with overseeing the national response to significant cyberattacks, improving the overall cybersecurity of UK infrastructure and business, and keeping tabs on the opportunities and threats presented by new technologies and trends. She will also lead the NCSC’s response to coronavirus pandemic – an effort that has already seen the GCHQ-based agency take down thousands of online scams, such as phishing attacks and fake stores.

Cameron said: “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 new chief, who will report GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming, replaces Ciaran Martin, whose tenure as CEO comes to an end on 31 August. Martin – who, in common with his successor, is Northern Irish – has led the NCSC since its inception in October 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years as the GCHQ board member with responsibility for cybersecurity.

He leaves government to take up a professorial role with Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government.

“I would like to thank Ciaran Martin for the way he has pioneered cybersecurity in the UK,” said Fleming. “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.”

The GCHQ head added: “I am excited to welcome Lindy to the NCSC and GCHQ. She joins 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.”

Cameron has been praised for her work in Afghanistan by the General Sir Nick Carter, the head of the UK’s armed forces, who in an interview with CSW highlighted working with Cameron when she was director of the UK-led Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan from 2009-10 (main picture) and he was commander for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force covering the province.

Such relationships are “something that soldiers benefit from hugely”, he said.

Cameron will formally take over in October, following the completion of a handover period.

Sam Trendall is the editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where a version of this story first appeared.

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