In Appreciation: Alan Paller

Alan Paller, founder of the famed SANS Institute, passed away on Nov. 9.

The cybersecurity industry is mourning the loss of Alan Paller, who founded the cybersecurity training organization SANS Institute in 1989. He later served as a member of President Bill Clinton's National Infrastructure Assurance Council and under President George W. Bush's administration received a lifetime achievement award for his work in helping improve federal information technology.

Paller, 76, died on Nov. 9.

Paller's career spans decades of work in advancing professional training and skills development initiatives, starting with SANS - which today trains more than 40,000 cybersecurity professionals a year - and including in the federal government. He co-chaired the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Committee’s 2012 Task Force on Cyber Skills; led the FCC Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council's Task Force on Best Practices in Cybersecurity; and served as a member of the NASA Advisory Council.

Prior to his passing, Paller was president of the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation, which recruited budding cybersecurity talent in high schools and community colleges that used gaming and other innovative development programs, and helped bring cybersecurity education and opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds. He was also president emeritus of SANS Technology Institute, a cybersecurity college and graduate school.

The consummate educator, Paller staunchly believed that the way to achieve better cybersecurity was by expanding opportunities for security professionals to learn and practice their technical skills.

He was passionate about the industry and was known for sharing with cybersecurity journalists his thoughtful expert advice and feedback on their coverage. He also solicited their input on his efforts and initiatives to better the cybersecurity profession.

"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."

Editor's Note: Alan was a true pioneer and leader in the industry whose generously shared his time, expertise, and insight to Dark Reading over the years. The cybersecurity industry is a better place today because of Alan and his work. We will miss him.