Conference organiser Gary Robinson, European board member, OWASP with event speakers Shannon Lietz, director of DevSecOps, Intuit and Mark Miller, senior storyteller, Sonatype

Cyber Security Skills Demanding Double the NI Average Salary

Alastair Luke Corporate

Young people who gain cyber security skills can expect to earn as much as double the average salary in Northern Ireland, an event run by tech organisation OWASP (the Open Web Application Security Project) heard today.

The scale of the opportunity was highlighted at a schools outreach event at W5 that kicked off AppSecEU 2017, one of Europe’s largest cyber security conferences, which is taking place in Belfast this week.

Around 500 school teachers and pupils aged 12 and 13 took part in a series of free training sessions with tech leaders including US-based application security expert Shannon Leitz and Dougie Grant, the head of the PSNI’s Cyber Crime Centre.

Gary Robinson, co-founder of OWASP’s Belfast chapter, said: “The cyber security industry is becoming one of the most attractive career paths for young people and we hope that by hosting training sessions we are encouraging the next generation to join what is expected to become one of the key sectors for the local economy in the next decade.”

The cyber security industry’s average salary in Northern Ireland has reached £45-£50,000, compared to a province-wide average of £26,100, according to recruitment specialists MCS Group, who sponsored the schools event.

Sean Devlin, head of IT recruitment at MCS Group, added: “We have seen salaries for roles such as security researchers rise by as much as £10,000 in the past year to well above £40,000 for people with just two years’ experience in the sector. It is very clear that cyber security is a highly rewarding sector, not only for the salaries on offer but the amazing work and genuine world class companies right here in Belfast.

Head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Cyber Crime Centre, Detective Chief Inspector Dougie Grant, said: “Cyber security is a very rewarding career and an interesting area for young people to experiment in. It is a new and emerging field which will continue to expand.

“For this reason the PSNI is keen to make sure that young people fully understand the legal implications connected with cyber security and hacking and do not cross the line into cybercrime which may damage companies or result in data loss. There are many offences under the Computer Misuse Act and if a young person is convicted it will affect their future career prospects.

“The OWASP event is a great opportunity for young people to learn and develop skills in a safe environment and understand that a career in cyber security can be extremely rewarding.”

OWASP’s Belfast chapter has more than 700 members – including programmers, testers, students, project managers, development managers and security experts.

AppSec EU 2017 is taking place this week with its main conference sessions scheduled for May 11 and 12 at the Belfast Waterfront. The conference is aimed at IT professionals of all levels of experience.  It includes competitions for students, along with talks for software teams to enhance their secure coding and ethical hacking skills.  There are also management level talks covering the issues of implementing cyber security processes in any organisation involved in software development.

For more details go to www.AppSec.EU.

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