Home Affairs deputy secretary to lead Australian Cyber Security Centre

By Stephen Easton

Thursday June 20, 2019

Senior Home Affairs executive Rachel Noble has been appointed to lead the Australian Cyber Security Centre, following the departure of Alastair MacGibbon at the end of May.

Mike Burgess, head of the Australian Signals Directorate, in which the ACSC is located, described Noble as a “highly respected public servant with a strong and long background in cyber, science, technology, national security and defence” in a statement on Wednesday. He said she was ideally qualified for the “important and challenging” position.

Rachel Noble

“Rachel Noble possesses a formidable skill set and the new role brings together her experience in cyber, science and security,” said Burgess. “I’m particularly impressed by Rachel’s leadership qualities, which were so well displayed when she and I worked together previously to improve cyber policy across government.”

The new ACSC chief said she was looking forward to returning to the ASD, where she worked earlier in her career.

“I have always enjoyed the work of ASD and this will be the third time in my career that I have worked there,” she said. “I’m delighted to be reconnecting with some of my old colleagues and making new ones too.”

MacGibbon’s position as the federal government’s top cyber security adviser evolved over his time in the role, as did his several different job titles which were often used simultaneously, signifying a linking role. He moved into ASD along with the ACSC in January 2018 and was lately considered both a deputy secretary of Home Affairs and a deputy director-general of the ASD, as well as the government’s national cyber security adviser.

It’s not clear from the statement if the new head of the ACSC will take on all of her predecessor’s titles though signs point to no; the deputy secretary position occupied by MacGibbon appears to have disappeared from the Department of Home Affairs.

Noble rose to the rank of deputy secretary in 2014 shortly after the customs service, where she was national director of intelligence and chief information officer, merged with the immigration department to form the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

This process led to a group of senior immigration executives choosing to leave and take on roles elsewhere, creating opportunities for public servants like Noble, who was promoted to lead the new department’s policy group. She then led the “Home Affairs Implementation Team” when DIBP transformed again into the current department, before moving into her current role where “enterprise strategy, risk, assurance, security and ministerial, media and intelligence services” have been her group’s responsibilities.

Before customs, Noble had been a first assistant secretary in Defence responsible for “ministerial and executive coordination and communication” and the national security CIO and cyber policy coordinator in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, where she earned a Public Service Medal.

Earlier in her career she held two other Defence roles at assistant secretary level and was the deputy chief of facility at Pine Gap.

Prior to serving in government, she worked for Optus; she has a Master of Business Administration in Technology Management and a Bachelor of Science degree.

Burgess thanked MacGibbon for his work, back in May: “… Alastair has been a fierce advocate for the importance of cyber security for the community, businesses and governments. He is indeed the face of cyber security in Australia and, through his leadership, helped raise the nation’s cyber security standards.”

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