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CYBER


A safe pair of


hands


Ciaran Martin has been instrumental in thwarting criminals in their attempts to defraud billions of pounds from organisations and individuals. Now the leading cyber security expert is joining the fight against online crime in Scotland. Can we all feel a little more safe?


BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


Ciaran Martin, the former chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, is joining the fight against online crime in Scotland. But his connections to the country run deeper than his new board role with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) suggest. As lead official negotiator for


the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland, in the run- up to the Edinburgh Agreement in 2012, he helped pave the way for the Scottish independence referendum two years later. His distinguished government career has seen him occupy various Cabinet Office roles including di-


rector of security and intelligence, from 2008-2011, and head of the cabinet secretary’s office from 2005 to 2008. And now the Oxford University


graduate is back in the city of dreaming spires to teach the next generation of Whitehall manda- rins and international practitio- ners of statecraft, albeit with a 21st-century technology slant. I speak to Martin over Teams,


and he’s enthusiastic about his new academic role as professor of practice in applied government at the university’s Blavatnik School of Government. “It’s a superb institution – it’s my old univer- sity and I love being in Oxford,” he says. “We have students from


more than 50 different coun- tries on the masters’ course I’m involved with. But I think my mission, if that’s not too grand a term, is the promotion of public trust in technology and working out how governments can best do that.”


Martin helped George Osborne establish the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in 2015 following growing public concern about cybersecurity, and sev- eral high-profile data breaches, including that at TalkTalk. Te organisation was inaugurated in October 2016 as the public-facing arm of GCHQ, in what was a genuine departure for the secre-


tive world of Britain’s clandestine ‘listening post’. Over the course of the next few


years, NCSC gained a reputation and much credit for thwarting literally billions of phishing and spoofing attempts plaguing citi- zens and businesses alike. When I ask Martin about his


proudest moment in office, he pauses, before offering the Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme, which he describes as “genuinely world-leading”. Aimed at the public sector, ACD beefed up the nation’s cyber defences with a suite of products and services, in- cluding an automated takedown


Continued on Page 40 FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 | 39


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