Alastair MacGibbon has resigned from his role as the government’s most senior cyber security advisor.
MacGibbon has served as Deputy Secretary and National Cyber Security Advisor at the Department of Home Affairs, and the head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) since December 2017.
His resignation from the dual role was confirmed in an announcement by Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Director-General Mike Burgess on Saturday.
Burgess called him the “face of cyber security in Australia” who had “helped raise the nation’s cyber security standards”.
“I’d also like to recognise and thank Alastair for his tireless work in tackling the challenge of helping those we serve to better understand how to identify and manage the nation’s cyber security risks more effectively,” Burgess said in a statement.
MacGibbon joined the public sector in 2015 as the government’s inaugural eSafety Commissioner. In 2016 he was appointed by then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the role of Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, within Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He took up his current two roles at the end of 2017, remaining with the ACSC as it was absorbed into the ASD.
During his time in the public service MacGibbon produced a report on the problems surrounding the online 2016 Census which found a range of shortcomings in the approach of ABS and IBM, concluding the DDoS attack was “predictable and defeatable”.
He defended the government’s controversial encryption legislation – the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 – which many in the private sector claimed will “profoundly undermine” the reputation of Australian software and hardware manufacturers in international markets.
“So no-one’s talking about backdoors here,” MacGibbon said of the ‘aabill’ in 2017.
More recently MacGibbon and his team analysed the compromise of the Australian parliament’s computer network.
Burgess said MacGibbon – a former agent with the Australian Federal Police – left a “considerable legacy”.
MacGibbon will be returning to the private sector following his last day with the public service on May 28.
“One of the biggest challenges for Australia in cyber security sits with the private sector and in particular those who own and operate critical infrastructure. Indeed most of the cyber security heavy lifting is done by the private sector. Alastair’s decision to return to the private sector means he is not lost to this important cause,” Burgess said.
Lieutenant general John Frewen, Principal Deputy Director-General at the ASD, will lead the ACSC in an acting capacity until a permanent replacement can be found.