Cyber security firm Imperva creating 220 jobs in Northern Ireland
Cyber security workers set to top 1,500 for first time ever
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, 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.”