Ciaran Martin was the founding Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ. Ciaran led a fundamental shift in the UK’s approach to cyber security in the second half of the last decade. He successfully advocated for a wholesale change of approach towards a more interventionist posture and this was adopted by the Government in the 2015 National Security Strategy, leading to the creation of the NCSC in 2016 under his leadership. Over the same timeframe, the UK has moved from joint eighth to first in the International Telecommunications Union’s Global Cybersecurity Index and the NCSC model has been studied widely and adopted in countries like Canada and Australia. The NCSC’s approach has been lauded for responding quickly to incidents and giving the British public clear and prompt advice on responding to them, putting previously classified information in the hands of industry so that companies can defend themselves more effectively, major improvements in automatic cyber security like countering brand spoofing and rapidly taking down malicious sites, and projecting the UK’s leadership in cyber security across the world. Ciaran’s work, which led to him being appointed CB in the 2020 New Year’s Honour’s list, has also been recognised and honoured in the United States and elsewhere across the world.
In his 23-year career in the UK civil service, Ciaran held senior roles within the Cabinet Office, including Constitution Director (2011-2014), which included negotiating the basis of the Scottish Referendum with the Scottish Government and spearheading the equalising of the Royal Succession laws between males and females in the line; and director of Security and Intelligence at the Cabinet Office (2008-2011). Between 2002 and 2008 he was Principal Private Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service and Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary to HM Treasury.