‘Politics and conflict is played out in cyber as well as physical spaces’, says Bombay Bicycle Club guitarist Jamie MacColl 

Last week (19 January 2024), the Cyber Monitoring Centre (CMC) announced its new technical committee following its online launch on 1 January 2024.


Left to right: Ed Nash, Jamie MacColl, Jack Steadman, Suren de Saram

And Insurance Times found out that among its members lies indie rock band Bombay Bicycle Club guitarist Jamie MacColl.

Bombay Bicycle Club’s story started in Crouch End, North London, in 2005.

Four 15-year-olds, three of which were in the same class, were asked to perform a piece of music in a school assembly. And after realising they were on to something, their commitment to the art saw them go onto release four albums and gain recognition worldwide. 

The band won the Best New Band award at the Shockwaves NME Awards in February 2010.

And their fourth album – So Long, See You Tomorrow – was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2014 after debuting at number one in the UK charts that same year.

MacColl’s background in cyber security, on the other hand, is a very different story.

60 seconds with Jamie MacColl

MacColl speaks exclusively to Insurance Times about Bombay Bicycle Club’s journey, his background in cyber and music and ambitions at the CMC.

MacColl shared the band started with “varying levels of musical ability” but candidly added he was “definitely the worst musician”.

“The first song we ever played live was Cissy Strut by The Meters, which is a surprisingly cool song for a group of gawky teenagers with very little groove,” he said.

“I had been playing guitar since I was about six or seven, but only started taking it seriously when the band started. Most of what I have learned about playing guitar has been through playing with the band.”

After four albums, Bombay Bicycle Club went on a hiatus in 2015 and during that time, MacColl decided to go to university as it was an experience he “missed” while growing up because of the band.

Having been “interested in war and international politics for a long time”, he opted to study a bachelor’s degree in war studies at King’s College London before moving on to a master of philosophy degree in international relations at Cambridge. At Kings, he interned at cyber threat intelligence firm Orpheus.

“Moving into cyber threat intelligence is increasingly a common path for people that study international relations or war – politics and conflict is played out in cyber as well as physical spaces,” MacColl highlighted.

“I [then] moved to RUSI in 2020 to work on public policy related to cyber and now I primarily focus on cyber insurance, ransomware and the UK’s offensive cyber doctrine.”


Considering his role at the CMC, MacColl said: “Systemic cyber risk is one of the challenges facing UK public policy on cyber. I hope that by developing a robust and trusted methodology and mechanism for categorising cyber incidents, we can provide an important first step in solving the challenge.

“As my colleague on the committee Ciaran Martin remarked - this whole area of measuring the severity of incidents is not easy, but if we can achieve our goal, this should help government, businesses and organisations improve the way they deal with cyber security.”

The formation of the technical committee follows CFC’s head of cyber strategy James Burns highlighting in October 2023 that “the need to properly address systemic cyber risk has become more pressing than ever” amid reports of a rise in attacks.