Bulgaria mulls setting up highly qualified, well-paid cyber protection unit

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has said  that he and Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov are considering the establishment of a well-paid unit of cyber security professionals to protect the state institutions.

There is a salary cap in state administration, and this is a great obstacle to recruiting competent information technology (IT) experts, Borissov said at a cyber security conference.

“The state pays 1,500 Bulgarian levs (846 U.S. dollars) a month, while in the private sector the salaries of such IT specialists start from 10,000 levs. Only someone with a big cause can come to work for the state,” Borissov said.

So now, he and the finance minister are considering changing the regulations in order to allow the state to hire five, 10 or 15 talented IT experts with higher salaries, Borissov said. This unit would serve all the ministries, he said.

Other “very advanced” countries have offered to provide cyber protection services to Bulgaria, “but the conversation starts from several hundred million dollars,” Borissov said. In addition, information had to go through their servers, he said. “We cannot afford that,” Borissov said.

Borissov raised the idea two months after hackers had penetrated the network of Bulgaria’s National Revenue Agency and gained access to about 3 percent of the information held there, including data about natural and legal persons, and declared and paid taxes.