The head of Britain’s frontline defence against cyber attack warned the challenge of securing technology will become ever more complex as it was revealed he will step down next year.
Ciaran Martin, 45, will leave the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the summer, almost four years after founding the organisation, the government said on Friday evening.
It said his decision to move on had been a “long-standing” plan.
“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to set up the NCSC and lead its brilliant people,” Mr Martin, a career civil servant, said in a statement.
“When we created the NCSC we set out to achieve something truly special, and I hope and believe we are leaving UK cyber security in much better shape.
“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.”
The cyber security chief, who was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, will become a visiting professor at King’s College London.
Other career plans will be announced later in 2020.
Mr Martin rose through the ranks of the civil service, including stints at the Treasury and the Cabinet Office, before joining the board of GCHQ as the head of cyber security in December 2013.
Two years later, he recommended the creation of the public-facing cyber security centre, which – in contrast to the secret confines of the rest of GCHQ – interacts closely with private industry and members of the public to help improve cyber resilience.
The NCSC formally opened in October 2016.
Lord Gus O’Donnell, former cabinet secretary, responding to the news of Mr Ciaran’s decision to step down, said he had been an “outstanding civil servant for nearly a quarter of a century”.
“Over the past six years he has set up and led something that’s regarded as a huge national asset for the UK all over the world,” he added.
The intelligence and security agency GCHQ, which includes the cyber security centre, will appoint a new chief executive to replace Mr Martin. It will consider candidates from the private sector as well as from within government.