GDS on the hunt for new cyber security chief

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is on the lookout for a new head of cyber security, following the departure of Michael Brunton-Spall late last year. The successful candidate will sit at the heart of GDS, working for the Deputy Director of Technology and Operations, and will earn a salary of up to £70,000.

Cyber security is at the top of the government’s digital agenda, following the publication of the £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy at the end of 2016. It focused on three main aims – defence, deterrence and developing capabilities – with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, stating that Britain “must keep up with the scale and the pace of the threat we face”.

The GDS job advert states that the chosen candidate will be a critical part of a small but growing security team, who “help minimise cyber security and resilience risk in our portfolio of products and services, to ensure every one of them remains secure and resilient”.

The government recently felt the impact of what could happen if cyber security wasn’t taken seriously, following the WannaCry ransomware attack. WannaCry was a global event and affected many organisations, but the NHS found itself having to declare a major incident and implement its emergency arrangements to maintain health and patient care, after 81 out of 236 Trusts were impacted. A further 603 primary care and other NHS organisations were also affected.

GDS’ job description for the post states:

The team needs to stay on top of changes to security good practice and industry wide trends and ensure that teams can easily and securely use the best products. The team also acts as an independent source of assurance and advice for other delivery teams and should help facilitate security investigations, red teams, and to act as an audit for teams internal security operations.

The candidate

Unsurprisingly, applicants will be expected to have a background in managing software development or operations teams and a good working knowledge of cyber security principles, with the ability to demonstrate work with cyber security experts to improve the security of digital products and services.

The successful candidate will be responsible for threat identification and intelligence collection; vulnerability management; protective and transactional monitoring; and incident response. They will be accountable for delivering accurate reporting to the Deputy Director of Technology & Operations around cyber security incidents and providing clear service improvement plans across the portfolio to address issues raised.

The cyber security chief will also be involved in working across government with security, delivery and policy teams and working to ensure that GDS “remains at the forefront of security thinking”.

The listed qualifications and experience required, include:

  • Leadership skills, with demonstrated experience of taking ownership and responsibility for the successful delivery of complex projects or teams
  • Proven experience in the full lifecycle delivery of digital products or services, ideally within a large government or multi supplier organisation
  • Experience of being a leader of change projects or programmes with a focus on improved security and risk mitigation
  • A good understanding and awareness of new digital and emerging technologies, contemporary technological service design, delivery, and secure development practices
  • Experience working with technical experts and product development teams, to specify and assure secure design solutions and technical approach for products or services developed in cross functional teams

The job ad states:

“The successful candidate will be a strong leader with the proven ability to set direction and
convey a persuasive future vision at all levels of the organisation. Previous experience of
leadership in government is not required but you will be expected to quickly get up to speed
with the department’s architecture, culture and processes.”

The closing date for applications is 14th January and interviews are expected to begin the week commencing 22nd January.

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