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Ransomware attack a wake-up call, says Anomali chief executive

Hugh Njemanze, Anomali, Dr Godfrey Gaston, Operations Director, CSIT and Alastair Hamilton, CEO Invest NI
Michael McHugh, Press Association

Last weekend's ransomware attack on global computer systems was a "wake-up call" for users to be more security-conscious, a new investor in Northern Ireland's burgeoning cyber industry has said.

US-based internet security firm Anomali will create 120 new jobs with the opening of its European Research and Development Labs in Belfast.

More than 300,000 machines in 150 countries have been infected with the WannaCry virus, crippling organisations from government agencies to multinational companies.

Anomali chief executive Hugh Njemanze said it was one of the easiest attacks to insure against by backing up data.

He said: "The prevailing mentality has been, 'it will happen to someone else before me'."

He acknowledged the rapid expansion of the virus had surprised people.

"It is a very strong wake-up call for people to understand that... it probably will happen to me.

"This will result in people taking the threat and preparations more seriously."

He said the danger had been known about for three or four years but the delivery mechanism for WannaCry was new.

With global headquarters in Redwood City, California, Anomali provides cyber security solutions to help organisations identify and respond to security threats.

The firm gathers intelligence about the threat posed and delivers it to organisations.

Government jobs creation agency Invest NI has offered support of £780,000 towards the new jobs which are expected to be in place by the end of 2019, with an average salary of £34,445.

Twenty-three of the positions are already in place.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), the UK's lead university centre for cyber security research based at Belfast's Northern Ireland Science Park, is expected to generate investment of £38.5 million as part of a new research strategy.

Invest NI has offered CSIT £5.5 million of assistance.

Northern Ireland is the number one location in the world for cyber security inward investment, according to Invest NI, and the number one global destination for US cyber security companies with an eye for international expansion.

Invest chief executive Alastair Hamilton said: "Northern Ireland is enjoying a growing international reputation as a region of expertise and knowledge in cyber security.

"Today's announcement of both a new inward investor, the Anomali Research and Development Labs, and a significant investment by CSIT will only see this reputation continue to grow."

CSIT director Godfrey Gaston said it was focused on working with companies to ensure they are solving real world problems.

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