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For the first time the heads of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 have all appeared in public together. Facing the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Commission the security luminaries were quizzed for an hour and a half on a wide range of subjects from current threats to privacy concerns.
Although the session resulted in few surprises, perhaps the most important outcome was that the appearance by the heads of all of the UK security services highlights the way in which security has come into the open.
The full session is available to view on the Parliamentary website* so we will just pick up on a couple of points which struck us in the opening exchanges. Commenting on the fact that despite intelligence gathering it was often hard to predict exactly when or if a security event would occur, Sir John Sawers, the Chief of MI6, said that all three services put a premium on agility, flexibility and capability to enable them to meet threats as they occur.
Moving on to the internet, Sir Ian Lobban, the Director of GCHQ acknowledged that it is “a fantastic place for business, for life, for study” but that the fact that it is global, diverse and complex means that the intelligence services need good, innovative, highly skilled people to keep up with the technological challenge.
Innovation, agility, capability; all these are traits which are prized not only by the security services but by every organisation which aims to take full advantage of a strong culture aligned to the technological advances which have transformed modern business practices.