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November 18, 2022

Ian Levy to swap the NCSC for Amazon

The outgoing technical director of the UK's cybersecurity agency is poised to join the tech giant, but may see his appointment scrutinised.

By Claudia Glover

The National Cyber Security Centre‘s outgoing technical director Ian Levy is reportedly set to join Amazon in a move that is likely to raise eyebrows across the cybersecurity industry. 

NCSC Ian Levy joins Amazon
NCSC’s Ian Levy to join Amazon in a move some are considering controversial. (Photo by askarim/Shutterstock)

Levy announced plans to leave the NCSC last month. Today Sky News reported that he is poised to join the tech giant in an undisclosed role. Levy will work for Amazon rather than AWS, its public cloud division, the report said, citing sources familiar with the appointment.

Tech Monitor has approached Amazon for comment.

Ian Levy follows well-trodden path from public to private sector

If confirmed, Levy’s appointment is likely to be scrutinised by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which vets senior civil servants moving into the private sector and can impose conditions on their work in order to avoid the possibility of corruption.

One source familiar with the scrutiny of the ACOBA told Sky News it was likely that Levy would be prohibited from direct involvement in UK government-related contracts for a period of at least 12 months from the date his new role begins.

Amazon and AWS have won £600m in UK government contracts since 2017. The award of these contracts contracts has drawn some criticism from those who say the company does not pay the correct amount of tax. Amazon denies this.

Levy’s appointment comes as the company announces 10,000 corporate and tech staff layoffs, amounting to the biggest reduction for the company since it was founded, some 3% of all staff.

Levy lauded for work at NCSC

Since leaving NCSC, Levy has stayed tight-lipped about his future. On his work at the agency, he recorded many positive reflections in a blog post last month. “Being technical director of the NCSC has been the best job in the world, and truly an honour,” he said.

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Prior to taking up his role at the NCSC, Levy was technical director of cyber security and resilience at GCHQ. Upon hearing the news of Levy’s departure, many of his previous colleagues were effusive in their praise for his work.

Ciaran Martin, the NCSC’s founding chief executive tweeted that he was, “struggling to think of any other civil servant in [his] 23 years there that had as much positive impact”.

Former MP Richard Benyon, who now sits in the House of Lords, described Levy as a “great man”. 

Read more: UK publishes “vague” cybersecurity guidance for machine learning

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