Alan Paller, who developed one of the first alert systems for cybersecurity and hosted the first cyberattacks in the U.S., has died at 76.
The FBI confirmed the death, saying he was an independent security consultant. Paller, who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, died on January 30th of causes related to the disease. Paller worked at the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in the 1980s before working in cybersecurity as an industry advisor.
Paller pioneered a method for detecting malicious attacks by sifting through nearly 2 million images containing malicious code. He created a program called WarningBird. He later founded SANS Institute, a nonprofit that develops tools for combating cyberattacks.
Paller was first diagnosed with ALS in 2016 and began receiving treatment for the disease in January 2017. On the SANS Institute website, Paller said that he used his diagnosis to speak about cybersecurity, saying “many don’t understand the threats they face or the people who are carrying them out.”
In a statement, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that Paller “served our government for nearly 30 years, as we celebrate him in that service. Alan was one of the first to embrace technology in a proactive way to combat threats to our security. He used the latest tech to transform how we track bad actors.”
SANS Institute President Doug Livermore said that Paller’s “skills, approach, and vision set the standard for the cybersecurity industry in America.”