Paul Paget has agreed to step down as chief executive of Core Security when the penetration testing vendor finds a replacement.

Boston-based Core announced today that it is looking for a CEO "who has brought companies of Core’s size to that next level of rapid growth."

"Paul has been instrumental in bringing Core Security from an early stage company to its current position as a market leader with over 500 customers. It has always been assumed that, as we proved the opportunity for security testing to be significant, that this would happen. This move reflects a strong endorsement by the board regarding Core’s market opportunity," the company announced today in a statement. "Paul will remain as CEO of Core Security until we find the right successor and complete a smooth transition. His departure will not be immediate. During this time, Paul’s leadership will be directed at ensuring the company continues on its rapid growth trajectory."

Paget is also a member of Core’s board of directors.

John Pescatore, Gartner vice president and senior fellow, told today that Core has "a really good product" but its growth could be stalled by a limited market for penetration testing.

"I think it’s a combination of things. I think it’s a phase where they’ve been around long enough where the investors say, ‘It hasn’t exploded, so how do we get our money back?’" he said. "They have a really strong product, but it’s a niche market for that product. Most companies pay a consultant for penetration testing, and most companies find it hard to maintain the skills to do this on their own."

Paget joined Core as CEO in 2002, after serving as senior vice president of Baltimore Technologies Americas.

Paget, who also held senior sales and marketing positions with Lotus Development and IBM, worked in the IT security space as vice president of sales and marketing for Cybertrust, now part of Verizon Business.

Click here to email Online Editor Frank Washkuch.