Clare Gardiner, head of cyber resilience and strategy at the UK National Cyber Security Centre — a branch of signals intelligence agency GCHQ — will become the centre’s first director-general, responsible for advising ministers on the “alert level” for the virus; which is similar to assessing the terror threat.
Ms Gardiner’s role at the NCSC involves advising businesses and public organisations on how to improve their cyber defences, and she will return to this post after her secondment at the centre. But her research background in epidemiology and medical statistics make her well-suited to the role, according to one person familiar with her appointment.
She will report to Dido Harding, who is in charge of the NHS test and trace service.
The decision to put a security official in charge is likely to cause consternation among public health experts, who have questioned whether the template of a terror analysis centre is appropriate for managing a viral pandemic,