James Babbage, a top hacker and commander of the National Cyber Force NCF, (NCF) at GCHQ, has resigned to join the National Crime Agency (NCA). This unexpected move is seen as a significant setback to Britain’s international cyber capabilities.
Babbage’s departure comes just two months after his public recognition as the chief of the NCF, a unit that conducts critical cyber operations alongside the military. The NCF, first confirmed by Boris Johnson in 2020, aims to recruit 3,000 personnel by 2030.
Despite his high-profile role at the NCF, Babbage will assume a mid-ranking position at the NCA, replacing Rob Jones as the temporary director general overseeing economic and organized crime. The NCA combats organized crime, a stark contrast to the NCF’s focus on international threats.
The cybersecurity industry expressed surprise at Babbage’s move, which was first reported by The Record. The UK continues to grapple with hacking and fraud, costing the economy billions annually. Earlier this year, IT outsourcer Capita suffered a £20m hit from a Russian ransomware attack.