MasterCard Sues Nike and Its Former CISO Over Poaching

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MasterCard Inc’s lawsuit against Nike Inc. underscores the growing difficulty of finding cybersecurity talent – particularly chief information security officers – as companies seek to bolster their defenses in the face of increasing security breaches.

In a complaint, filed Wednesday in federal court, MasterCard alleges that the footwear company conspired with its ex-CISO William Dennings and former head of information security engineering to poach cybersecurity talent. The credit card company claims that both executives, who went to work for Nike in 2013, broke non-solicitation and non-disclosure contracts by subsequently hiring MasterCard employees who worked in information security.

“Nike has investigated the claims brought by MasterCard and we believe that our employees acted appropriately and the allegations are without merit,” said a Nike spokesman in an email.

Still, Nike is asking for an injunction to stop the recruiting from MasterCard employees and monetary damage for existing breaches of at least $5 million. “Despite MasterCard’s requests to cease, Nike continued, with the assistance of the former employees to solicit and hire seven more information security employees from MasterCard in a span of just six months,” said a MasterCard spokesman in an email.

Bloomberg News first reported the news of the lawsuit, Thursday.

Executive recruiters say that competition for cybersecurity talent is tight. “I’ve been in the business since the inception of the role and I have never seen it as active as 2014,” said Joyce Brocaglia, CEO of executive recruiting firm Alta Associates Inc. that specializes in information security. Ms. Brocaglia told CIO Journal said she expects that to continue in 2015. “Companies are starting to recognize that information security is a huge competitive advantage,” she said.

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