The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has appointed Rachel Noble as the new head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).
Noble is currently serving as Deputy Secretary Executive Group in the Department of Home Affairs. The Group is responsible for enterprise strategy, risk, assurance, security and ministerial, media and intelligence services.
Noble has previously held a series of leadership positions in Home Affairs; Defence, including two previous roles at ASD, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).
"I'm delighted that Rachel's agreed to return to ASD to take this important and challenging role, said ASD director-general Mike Burgess in a statement on Wednesday.
"The cyber threat is real and Rachel is ideally qualified to confront it."
As PM&C's National Security Chief Information Officer and Cyber Policy Coordinator, Noble coordinated whole of government policy on cyber issues, and improved information sharing among the national security community. She received a Public Service Medal for this work.
Her previous roles have included National Director Intelligence and Chief Information Officer at the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service; Assistant Secretary Governance, responsible for the overall governance and assurance framework for Defence; and Deputy Chief of Facility at the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, the joint satellite surveillance facility with the US near Alice Springs.
Noble holds a Masters of Business Administration in Technology Management and a Bachelor of Science with Honours.
According to a senior intelligence source, the appointment of someone with a strong background in both cyber and national security reflects the current threat environment.
They cited as examples the cyber attacks on parliament and major political parties, as well as the data breaches at Australian National University.
"Rachel is a strong leader, and this is important given the cybersecurity challenges facing Australia," the source told ZDNet.
"It's hoped the first female head of the ACSC will be a role model for women who might be considering a career in STEM."
Noble replaces Alastair MacGibbon, who resigned from the post shortly before the federal election in May his year. He had led the agency since it became part of the ASD in January 2018.
Out goes multi-factor authentication via SMS messages, emails, voice calls, or software certificates for all but the most immature implementations of the Australian Signals Directorate's Essential Eight.
Australia's cybersecurity agency joins the nation's peak body for cyber professionals to deliver development programs through the government's Joint Cyber Security Centres.
HPE and IBM are reportedly among the managed service providers targeted by China's APT10 group. Meanwhile, the Australian Cyber Security Centre hasn't ruled out government agencies being among the end targets.
MacGibbon's decision to resign at the "end of the electoral cycle" makes sense both organisationally and personally, especially given the potential for uncertainty ahead.
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