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Parliament’s digital chief quits to become Arup CIO

Rob Greig is leaving in September for a new role in the private sector

Rob Greig, director of the Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS), is leaving to become group CIO at engineering giant Arup.

Greig was the first full-time chief of the then newly formed PDS – set up to merge Parliament’s ICT department and its Web and Intranet Service teams – when he joined in early 2015. Previously, he was chief technology officer at the Royal Opera House.

PDS provides the IT infrastructure for the Houses of Parliament, managing provision of IT equipment and networking to MPs and Lords as well as parliamentary staff, covering 9,000 users and 50,000 connected devices.

“We would like to thank Rob for all he has done since his arrival in 2015,” said Edward Ollard, clerk of the Parliaments, and David Natzler, clerk of the House of Commons, in a jointly released statement. “The digital strategy that he developed and is delivering has begun the transformation of Parliament’s digital infrastructure and service.

“He has made dramatic improvements in our cyber security and business systems, and begun the vital work of rebuilding Parliament’s website, all during a time of rapid change in PDS.”

Greig had to deal with a significant cyber attack on the Houses of Parliament in June this year, only weeks after informing his bosses that he was leaving. Remote access to the accounts of parliamentary network users was suspended on 24 June after unauthorised access attempts were detected.

MPs and other staff were unable to access their accounts remotely, but IT services within the parliament building continued to functional normally.

“Closer investigation by our team confirmed that hackers were carrying out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords,” said Greig at the time. “These attempts were specifically trying to gain access to users emails.”

Read more about Houses of Parliament IT

In a blog post, Greig later explained what had happened during the attack. “Towards the end of the attack, our systems blocked 48,000 attempts to get into the network in a single hour,” he wrote. “Ultimately, it was an all-too-familiar story of those at most risk being users with weak passwords.

“The House of Commons and House of Lords communications teams worked as part of the incident team and enabled quick and efficient communication of what was going on. We call it a cyber incident, but the reality is that staff from PDS and across Parliament all worked tirelessly to handle the response. Unfortunately, some accounts had been compromised in the early part of the attack and we suspect some email data has been taken. It looks like it affected less than 1% of accounts.”

In their statement, Ollard and Natzler acknowledged Greig’s role in dealing with the incident. “His achievements and his leadership were most visibly displayed just last month during the cyber attack,” they said. “We wish Rob every possible success in his new role.”

Greig leaves Parliament for his new job in September. .................................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................

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