Belfast 'a new cyber security hub' as 80 jobs created by WhiteHat
Belfast is becoming a European hub for cyber security, with the announcement of another web protection firm bringing 80 new jobs to Northern Ireland. California-based WhiteHat Security - which provides online security for businesses - is the third company within the industry to set up shop in Belfast this year.
WhiteHat is creating jobs for 50 security engineers, 20 software engineers and 10 customer support staff over the next three years.
Chief executive Jeremiah Grossman said Northern Ireland's "highly skilled workforce" was the main motivation for the company coming to Belfast. He said: "It's about access to talent, that's what we are really after. The deciding factor is hiring, training and retaining the best application security people in the world."
Mr Grossman said he was impressed by the quality of candidates when interviewing for some of the new posts.
"For our job you need two things, one is a computer science background, preferably in programming. The other one is an inquisitive mind - that you are willing to learn every day, all day.
"When we interviewed they had those skills, and the drive to do those things," the entrepreneur said.
The firm, which follows security companies Rapid7 and Proofpoint in opening in Belfast, will receive a grant from Invest NI for £480,000.
Cyber security expert David Crozier from Queen's University said Belfast was "undoubtedly becoming a European hub for cyber security firms". He said: "Online security is a big challenge facing businesses, and one that is ever-changing. This has meant the size of the market for web protection firms is growing."
Mr Crozier said the size of the growing online security sector is worth around £51bn globally - with the UK market alone projected to expand to £3.4bn in three years.
"The UK Government has recently revised its target for the export of cyber security-related technologies, upwards, to £2bn by 2016," he said.
The Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) is injecting £240,000 into staff training at WhiteHat as part of its Assured Skills programme.
It's one of the areas which could face funding cuts amid the Executive's ongoing budget crisis.
DEL Minister Dr Stephen Farry said: "It is providing great success, and is intrinsic to what we're doing now in inward investment."
And regarding the ongoing issues surrounding the devolution of corporation tax, Dr Farry said taxes will have to go up to compensate.
"We do have to look seriously at other forms of revenue raising, he said.
Dr Farry said this could also mean the introduction of water charges in the future.