Today, we welcomed Ciaran Martin, the founding Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre at GCHQ, for a conversation with Jeanette Manfra, Global Director for Security and Compliance at Google and Adjunct Professor at the Alperovitch Institute, on all things cybersecurity, digital governance, and the evolution of tech regulation.

About Ciaran Martin and Jeanette Manfra

Ciaran Martin was the founding Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ. He is currently Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations, at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford.

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.

As well as secure technology, a constant theme has been the promotion of responsible, values based-Government whether in the Treasury, Cabinet Office or the security services. As a native of Northern Ireland’s troubles which he saw in part as being themselves caused by a failure of Government, Ciaran knows the importance of fair, impartial, well run public services that work for all and are trusted. So prior to his NCSC career he is particular proud of his supporting role, along with Ministers and civil servants in London and Edinburgh, in framing the arrangements for the 2014 independence referendum an event which, whilst hotly contested, was seen by all to be fair, legally sound and decisive. His knowledge of public finances, national and international security and the central bureaucracy of Whitehall is a rare combination of experiences and expertise.

Jeanette Manfra is the Global Director for Security and Compliance at Google and an Adjunct Professor at the Alperovitch Institute at SAIS Hopkins. Previously, she served as the Assistant Director for Cybersecurity for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), where she led the Department of Homeland Security mission of protecting and strengthening the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Previously, Jeanette served as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) before the agency became CISA on November 16, 2018. Prior to this position, Ms. Manfra served as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Director for Strategy, Policy, and Plans for NPPD.

Jeanette also served as Senior Counselor for Cybersecurity to the Secretary of Homeland Security and Director for Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity on the National Security Council staff at the White House. At DHS, she held multiple positions in the Cybersecurity Division, including advisor for the Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications and Deputy Director, Office of Emergency Communications, during which time she led the Department’s efforts in establishing the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. Before joining DHS, Jeanette served in the U.S. Army as a communications specialist and a Military Intelligence Officer.

Ciaran Martin and Jeanette Manfra answering questions from students at the Bloomberg Center.

Thomas Rid moderated a conversation between Ciaran and Jeanette, and members of the SAIS Hopkins faculty and student body.