Alan Paller, founder of the SANS Institute, passes away at 76

Alan Paller, founder of The SANS Institute, speaks at a cybersecurity summit Oct. 16, 2017, at the University of Wisconsin Madison campus. (Sgt. Katie Eggers/Wisconsin National Guard)

Founder of the SANS Institute Alan Paller, a component of several influential industry groups past and present, passed away Nov. 9, the SANS Institute announced Thursday. Paller was 76.

Paller co-founded the cybersecurity training group SANS in 1988, where he would also serve as research director. In 2004 he spearheaded SANS's creation of a formal undergraduate and graduate school, the SANS Technology Institute. Paller was a director of CyberStart America, board member of the Center for Institute Security, and director of the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation. He formerly co-chaired advisory committees for the FCC and Department of Homeland Security, and served on former-President Clinton's National Infrastructure Assurance Council.

Paller earned the Azimuth Award in 2005.

"It's impossible to imagine the industry as it is today without the contributions of Alan," said SANS chief technology officer James Lyne. "Not only the direct contributions of Alan, where he has helped policy-started initiatives and catering to industry, but he's also responsible for so many giants on whose shoulders many people stood on. Tens of thousands of practitioners that really matter to people have gone on to really important political stations that change the standard of cyber hygiene and government are because of him."

Lyne said he first met Paller at a U.K. government event on creating cyber workforce, in a flurry of the relentless energy Paller's peers remember him for.

"He trapped me in a corner and asked questions, came up with ideas, and just approach the problem with just an infectious energy and desire to solve a problem that you knew would make a difference to the world," said Lyne.

Paller's legacy will be in the continued efforts to educate new students, work that will continue. The SANS Institute currently educates more than 40,000 people a year, according to the group. And Paller's latest venture, the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation is currently enrolling new students.

"He was a man for the Cyber Age, bringing fresh ideas when the rest of us had none, and direction when we felt lost," said Jane Hall Lute, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, in a statement.

Joe Uchill

Joe is a senior reporter at SC Weekly, focused on policy issues. He previously covered cybersecurity for Axios, The Hill and the Christian Science Monitor’s short-lived Passcode website.

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