Burnaby’s Fortinet bulking up to combat brewing cyber threats

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Burnaby?s Fortinet bulking up in face of cyber threats

Derrick Penner
The Province

International cybersecurity firm Fortinet is on the hunt to hire as many as 1,000 tech experts to fill its newly expanded data hub in Burnaby and help it keep on top of a rapidly expanding “threat landscape,” as security strategist Derek Manky puts it.

From ordinary “phishing” to sophisticated malware and ransomware attacks such as WannaCry, Manky estimates Fortinet deals with “north of one million” new cyber threats every day.

And the number of Internet-connected devices in need of protection — from intelligent appliances and cars to smartphones — is always growing.

“(Ransomware) is a threat that has been on our radar for some time, but it’s getting nastier as time moves on,” Manky said. “They’re becoming more persistent and more damaging.”

To keep up with combating them, Fortinet announced this week the completion of a major expansion at its Burnaby campus, the now California-headquartered firm’s key research and development facility, taking over a second building in its suburban office park off Still Creek Drive.

That increases its footprint to about 282,000 square feet from the 87,000 square feet that Fortinet’s existing workforce of about 700 operates from now.

Manky said the company will now be looking to recruit up to 1,000 people “sooner rather than later” to fill the space, although he acknowledged that the effort might take up to five years considering the firm hires about 50 to 60 new grads per year to fill its growing needs.

“We would like to get more, as you can see with the expansion,” Manky said. “One thousand is a big number.”

Fortinet isn’t the only local tech firm on a hiring binge. Its announcement follows news that online retail giant and data-services firm Amazon is advertising for more than 350 tech positions in Vancouver, with other companies looking to recruit new talent as well.

Besides threat-intelligence experts and threat analysts, Manky said the company needs web developers, user-interface designers and a plethora of other positions to make its system work.

For some positions, such as the developers and programmers, it is very difficult to recruit locally because these are the same jobs everyone is looking to fill, Manky said.

There is less competition locally for the specific security experts, but Manky said for more experienced personnel, the competition is getting tighter at the global level considering the growing need.

Fortinet, which has about 5,000 employees around the world, is working to help close its skills gaps by setting up Fortinet Acadamies in 65 countries to collaborate with universities and cultivate the talent they need.

Manky said in Canada, the company is working with four universities, and cultivating relationships with 19 more, and he himself sits on a program advisory committee at the B.C. Institute of Technology, his alma mater.

“There is a huge gap in cybersecurity skills right now,” Manky said. “If you look at (the industry) it’s expected to grow (by) two million positions worldwide by 2019 that are unfilled. There is simply a lot of demand.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

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