Former Director GCHQ
Robert Hannigan is a leading authority on cyber security, cyber conflict and the application of technology in national security.
As Director of GCHQ (2014-2017) Robert is credited with bringing greater openness, making the organization fit for the digital era and setting the Government’s ambition of making the UK ‘the safest place to live and do business online’.
He established the National Cyber Security Centre as part of GCHQ in 2016, having been responsible for the UK’s pathbreaking cyber strategy in 2009 and was also responsible for leading, with military colleagues, the national offensive cyber programme. He caused international controversy on his first day in office in 2014 by criticising Silicon Valley companies in the Financial Times, but he has also spoken at MIT in defence of strong encryption and US technology leadership.
Robert has spent much of his career in national security. He was the Prime Minister’s Security Adviser at No10 from 2007-10, with a particular focus on Islamist terrorism, and was responsible in the Cabinet Office for the Single Intelligence Account (covering MI5, GCHQ and SIS). He chaired ‘COBR’ through numerous crises and was a longstanding member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which he chaired in 2011-12.
He is a member of the Government’s new Defence Innovation Advisory Panel and one of the few foreign nationals to have been awarded the US National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal.
Robert has a particular interest in Bletchley Park and the history of technology, computing and cryptology.