New director to lead Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre

27 Jan 2022

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Richard Browne, who has served as acting director of the NCSC since last year, is now tasked with further developing the centre.

Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is getting a new director who will help develop its operational capacity and expertise.

Richard Browne was named as the centre’s director today (27 January) by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, and Minister of State for Communications and the Circular Economy Ossian Smyth, TD.

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Browne was appointed following an open international competition run by the Public Appointments Service.

He has experience with the NCSC, having joined the centre in 2014 and leading the development of Ireland’s national cybersecurity policy. In 2020, he took on the role of deputy director at the National Security Analysis Centre (NSAC) and he has served as acting director of the NCSC since the role became vacant last July.

The NCSC was established in 2011 with a broad remit across the cybersecurity of Government ICT and critical national infrastructure.

As NCSC director, Browne will oversee its main functions, including the coordination and management of national cybersecurity incident response measures and building resilience against cyberattacks. He will also oversee the centre’s campaign on national situational awareness of cyber risks and threats.

Ryan said that protecting the security of critical national infrastructure is “vital” and Browne is a “high-calibre professional” to lead those efforts.

“He will bring his vast experience to continue his work in building and leading the NCSC,” Ryan added. “Under his lead, the NCSC will further develop its operational capacity and expertise, and support the development of the policy and legislative framework relating to cybersecurity in the State.”

His appointment comes at a pivotal time for cybersecurity in Ireland. The sector was left reeling when the HSE fell victim to a cyberattack last year, causing widespread disruption to the healthcare system.

The Government is looking to amp up its security strategy. Last July, it agreed to a number of measures to support the continued development of the NCSC over the coming years following a capacity review of the centre carried out by international cybersecurity experts.

It agreed to increase the number of full-time staff at the NCSC to at least 70 over the next five years. It will recruit 20 staff initially by end of 2022, bringing total staff numbers to 45. There are currently open recruitment competitions for the position of principal cybersecurity specialist, while more open competitions will be held for other senior management posts in the coming weeks.

The role of NCSC director was also re-advertised at a salary of €184,000 to reflect the scale and importance of the position and to attract experienced candidates.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com