The Portland-based sportswear giant Nike has been accused by MasterCard Inc. of “conspiring” to steal its cyber security talent after recruiting two top information security managers.
According to a report by Bloomberg, ex-MasterCard Chief Information Security Officer William E. Dennings and former Senior Engineering Manager Ryan Fusselman were urged to resign and break their contracts with the credit card company to join Nike’s security IT department.
In a complaint filed in a New York federal court last month, MasterCard claimed Nike allegedly interfered with the worker’s contracts, seeking $5 million in monetary damage, as well as a ruling prohibiting the company from further soliciting its employees. The two ex-employees also faced legal action due to breach-of-contract.
“Because talent in this rapidly growing area is limited, in demand and not well known, Dennings and Fusselman conspired to build Nike’s information security department by soliciting and hiring highly qualified managers and employees from MasterCard,” said the lawsuit.
Additionally, the filing claimed the employees were asked to lie about their reasons for leaving the company, and at least seven additional information security employees from MasterCard were later hired over the course of just six months.
In response, Nike spokesman Greg Rossiter stated the allegations were without merit. Rossiter added the company had investigated the claims and believed its employees acted appropriately.
As companies begin to realize the competitive advantage information security brings to their business, industry experts foresee the demand for cybersecurity professionals to continue growing in 2015.
“Great infosec talent has always been difficult to find due to the diverse set of skills required,” explains Tripwire security analyst Ken Westin. “As we see an increasing focus on cybersecurity with the number of high-profile breaches, that talent pool dries up even further.”
Getting a solid security program up and running is challenging as it is and the deployment of certain tools can be complex, requiring specialized training, adds Westin.
“If you suddenly lose your talent pool, that can definitely put your organization at risk.”