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A Cybersecurity Icon Taken Away at 76.

Mr. Paller was often described as gentle but relentless champion of empowering cyber security professionals with the practical skills and knowledge, they need to make the world a safer place.

by K. Vatsala Devi
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Cybersecurity Icon

The cybersecurity industry is a niche group, therefore the circle of experts is publicly known to the industry and everyone within it. And amongst the pioneers and experts, Alan Paller is not a stranger. Often described as a cybersecurity pioneer, it is with utmost regret that the cybersecurity received news of the icon’s passing at the age of 76.

cybersecurity icon passes away at 76
Alan Paller, a cybersecurity pioneer, died on Nov. 9, in his home

Dedicating his life to improving the digital defense of the Unites States of America, the titan breathed his last at his home in Bethesda in Maryland. His death was confirmed by the SANS Institute, the organization he founded in 1988. Sans (short for SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security) Institute was launched in 1989 as a cooperative for information security thought leadership and it is their mission to empower cyber security professionals with the practical skills and knowledge, they need to make the world a safer place.

In many obituaries, Paller was described as a champion for cybersecurity education as he firmly believed that the future of the nation relied on a pipeline of trained professionals who could defend its digital systems from the growing onslaught of cyber attacks.

“This is a profound loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Eric Bassel, CEO of SANS Institute. “He was not only a beloved colleague but a treasured friend and mentor. Alan, many years ago, set SANS on the path that we have built on year after year. His vision has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of security practitioners. His contribution to the industry was nothing short of monumental, and even in his last weeks he continued his life-long drive to make the world secure and to build the next generation of security defenders.”

In a New York Times post paying homage to the prolific man, the quoted an interview conducted with Alan Paller last year. It goes, “Our ability as a nation to maintain our technological leadership depends on building a sufficiently large pipeline of talent beyond the people already going into cyber,” Mr. Paller told The New York Times last year. “A vein of elite but hidden talent runs through the population.”

Chosen by OMB and the Federal CIO Council as the 2005 Azimuth Award winner, a lifetime achievement award recognizing outstanding service of a single, non-government person to improving federal information technology, Alan Paller is survived by his wife, Marsha Mann Paller, whom he married in 1968; two daughters, Brooke Paller and Channing Paller; a sister, Joan Bines; and two grandsons.

ESPC wishes the family its condolences over the passing of Mr. Alan Paller and hopes that the outpouring of love surrounding them will comfort them during this trying time.

Inset image source : SANS Institute website

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