Born in Castrop-Rauxel in 1955, Udo Helmbrecht completed high school in 1974. He then served for two years in the German Federal Armed Forces. From 1976 to 1981, Helmbrecht studied physics, mathematics and computer science at the Ruhr University in Bochum. Having received his diploma in physics, he then went on to obtain a doctorate in theoretical physics in 1984.
Between 1981 and 1983, Helmbrecht worked as a research assistant for the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the Ruhr University. For the following two years, he ran the Software Development Department of the Bergische University in Wuppertal.
Moving to Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm GmbH (MBB) in Munich, the predecessor of today´s EADS, in 1985, Helmbrecht began his career as a systems analyst, working on a German Chinese project. He advanced to project leader one year later. Over this period, he successfully completed a two-year executive management training program for high potentials. Between 1988 and 1989, he was personal assistant to the Head of the Military Aircraft Division.
In 1990, Helmbrecht was assigned the position of Head of the Technical Data Systems Department, and between 1992 and 1995, he functioned as Information Technology Programme Manager, assuming responsibility for the program and project management of information technology in the military aircraft product group. In 1995, Helmbrecht was appointed CIO of the Bayerische Versorgungskammer, a public insurance institution for pensions. As Director and Division Manager of Information Processing, he was responsible for data processing, information technology and security, application development, as well as data center and network infrastructure. Here, he succeeded in introducing several entrepreneurial operating methods.
Helmbrecht became President of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) in Bonn in 2003. In this position, he successfully developed the agency´s central service provision for information security within the German Federal Government. In addition, he spearheaded cooperation between BSI and the IT security industry, as well as raising public awareness of information security issues.
In 2009, Helmbrecht was appointed as Executive Director of ENISA by its Management Board, following a presentation to the European Parliament’s ITRE committee. Under Helmbrecht’s leadership, ENISA has consolidated its role as a center of network and information security expertise, and continued its work to facilitate cooperation in network and information security across Europe. In November 2010, Helmbrecht was appointed honorary professor at the Institut für Technische Informatik at the Universität der Bundeswehr in Munich, Germany.