Ex­pan­sion by US firm will cre­ate 220 new NI tech posts

Cy­ber se­cu­rity work­ers set to top 1,500 for first time ever

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RYAN MCALEER

A US cy­ber se­cu­rity com­pany has an­nounced plans to cre­ate 220 new jobs as part of an ex­pan­sion into North­ern Ire­land.

Cal­i­for­nia-based Im­perva, which has 54 of­fices world­wide, has said it will re­cruit the new staff in Belfast over the next three to five years, even­tu­ally gen­er­at­ing £7.2m in salaries.

It’s ex­pected to bring the to­tal num­ber of NI cy­ber se­cu­rity jobs to over 1,500 for the first time, rep­re­sent­ing a 15-fold in­crease in the past 10 years. The new roles are ex­pected to in­clude prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, tech sup­port and cus­tomer man­age­ment, with av­er­age salaries of around £32,000.

Im­perva, which will ini­tially work out of Arthur House in Arthur Street, has said it will seek ex­pe­ri­enced staff as well as re­cent grad­u­ates.

Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment agency In­vest NI is of­fer­ing the US firm £1.43m to­ward the ex­pan­sion.

Chris Hylen, Im­perva’s pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive, said the new Belfast of­fice will help his firm “fuel the next phase of our global growth and ex­pan­sion”, adding that it is part of the firm’s goal “to be­come the world’s lead­ing hy­brid se­cu­rity com­pany”.

He said: “Our new of­fice in North­ern Ire­land al­lows us to tap into the tremen­dous tal­ent in the re­gion, scale our busi­ness and con­tinue pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and sup­port ser­vices.

“We’re ex­cited to be in Belfast and are look­ing for­ward to build­ing a best-in-class team.”

Im­perva has taken on Roger Flynn as its di­rec­tor of cus­tomer suc­cess to over­see the Belfast op­er­a­tion.

Cy­ber se­cu­rity ex­pert David Crozier ( right), who is head of strate­gic part­ner­ships at Queen’s Univer­sity’s Cen­tre for Se­cure In­for­ma­tion (CSIT), es­ti­mates that the sec­tor is now gen­er­at­ing more than £60m a year in an­nual salaries for the North­ern Ire­land econ­omy.

Although the salaries at Im­perva ap­pear to be be­low the in­dus­try av­er­age here — be­lieved to be £38,000-£40,000 — he be­lieves the new po­si­tions will com­ple­ment the ex­ist­ing jobs within the fast grow­ing sec­tor, help­ing to cre­ate a more “bal­anced ecosys­tem”.

“From our per­spec­tive this is pos­i­tive news and sig­ni­fies once again that Belfast is a key cen­tre for these types of cy­ber se­cu­rity-re­lated jobs,” he said.

“Our own num­bers would sug­gest that the cy­ber se­cu­rity in­dus­try in North­ern Ire­land has grown from about 100 peo­ple 10 years ago. This new an­nounce­ment will bring that to over 1,500 for the first time.

“That’s worth around £60-65m a year in salaries alone to the lo­cal econ­omy. That has to be wel­comed.”

While cy­ber se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists in­clud­ing Proof­point, White­hat and Rapid7 have been ac­tively re­cruit­ing here, Mr Crozier said some of North­ern Ire­land’s largest em­ploy­ers, in­clud­ing All State and the ma­jor ac­count­ing firms, have also been re­cruit­ing heav­ily in the sec­tor. “They’re quite com­ple­men­tary to the jobs that are here and not nec­es­sar­ily com­pet­ing head on for ex­ist­ing roles in the city,” he said. “Im­perva are a fan­tas­tic com­pany with over 5,000 cus­tomers world­wide. They’re a top-tier cy­ber se­cu­rity com­pany which is great to have in the city.” Mean­while, the UK’S Dig­i­tal Sec­re­tary Jeremy Wright urged North­ern Ire­land’s tech sec­tor over the week­end to sup­port the draft EU with­drawal agree­ment cham­pi­oned by Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

He de­scribed it as “the best deal pos­si­ble to pro­tect our busi­nesses and make sure our per­sonal data is pro­cessed safely and se­curely”.

De­spite the un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the fu­ture of the UK’S data re­la­tion­ship with the EU af­ter March 29 2019, Mr Crozier sug­gested the global de­mand for cy­ber se­cu­rity makes it al­most “Brexit-proof ”.

“There’s such a de­mand for skills and tech­nol­ogy in this area,” he said. “It sort of cuts through a lot of the con­cerns around Brexit, in that global com­pa­nies will pro­cure tech­nolo­gies wher­ever they can get it and em­ploy good cy­ber se­cu­rity pro­fes­sion­als wher­ever they can get them.”

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