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Robert Hannigan is a leading authority on cyber security and conflict. Having served as Director of GCHQ, the UK’s largest intelligence and security agency, from 2014-17, he is a source of great expertise on the application of technology in national security. Hannigan now works in the private sector, currently acting as Chairman of BlueVoyant International, a global cybersecurity services firm.
Hannigan is a pioneer in the world of cyber security and technology, having been responsible for the UK’s first Cyber Security Strategy in 2009 and published the first National Risk Register for the UK in 2008 to make the UK ‘the safest place to live and do business online’. Moreover, Hannigan set up the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre as part of GCHQ and launched the active cyber defence program for the UK in 2016.
With Robert Hannigan as Director, GCHQ witnessed the largest internal transformation since the end of the Cold War. He is credited with giving improved transparency to the work of GCHQ, as a part of the initiative to promote new legislation and increase cyber skills nationally. Boris Johnson is quoted saying he made the organisation ‘fit for the digital era’.
Before GCHQ, Hannigan acted as Security Adviser to the UK Prime Minister from 2007-10, advising on both counter terrorism and intelligence. He also served as Head of Intelligence, Security and Resilience in the UK Government’s Cabinet Office, chairing ‘COBRA’ and overseeing the operations of the three UK intelligence agencies. Moreover, he was a long-standing member of the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee, even chairing it from 2011-12.
Prior to this, for nearly a decade, Robert Hannigan lived in Belfast, working as Tony Blair’s chief civil service adviser and aiding the Northern Ireland Peace Process. He expertly navigated political negotiations with parties and paramilitaries and adeptly coordinated with the US, Irish and other Governments. Blair singles him out for praise in his memoirs, commenting on his creativity.
Hannigan also has a keen interest in history of technology, computing and cryptology and is a Trustee at Bletchley Park. He has also been a member of the UK Government’s Defence Innovation Advisory Panel and now chairs the Industry Advisory Board for the UK government-backed ‘LORCA’ cyber accelerator.
Robert Hannigan is a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Royal United Services Institute, and an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. He was awarded a CMG for services to UK National security by Queen Elisabeth in 2015. As a non-US national, he is amongst only a handful of people to be honoured by being awarded the US Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal.