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Norway wealth fund rethinks hiring plans amid "huge" cyber risk

Norway's sovereign wealth fund is widening its recruitment net to include people without college degrees as it searches for the brightest minds to protect its USD 1.3tn portfolio from growing armies of hackers.

Nicolai Tangen, the Oslo-based fund's chief executive, | Photo: Tony Colli/PR

Nicolai Tangen, the Oslo-based fund's chief executive, says he occasionally picks up the phone himself to "encourage good candidates to apply," as part of the recruitment process.

That's as the kinds of attacks the fund encounters get more and more sophisticated.

"The powers we're up against are huge," he said. "There’s a lot of money in this fund, so it’s a precious target."

The fund saw an intense spike in attacks last year. Hackers attempted to breach its systems more than 1,000 times in 2020, representing a doubling from the previous year, Tangen said in an interview. Cyber security "is so important for the fund," he said.

The 54-year-old CEO says he's also interested in talking to so-called ethical hackers. But the fund won't touch people with a criminal record, no matter how brilliant they are, he said.

The focus on cyber security has prompted the fund to rethink some of its traditional recruitment requirements.

"In general, we're more open than we used to be," said Ada Magnaes, head of HR. "Education and formal requirements are however still important to us," even though applicants won’t be expected to have the kinds of university or college degrees normally needed to get past the screening process.

She says Norges Bank Investment Management -- the fund's official name -- has already hired people in Singapore and New York who were "without a formal education, practically self-taught."

"They've got exactly the mindset and the attitude we're looking for," she said.

"We believe this could compensate for the lack of formal education."

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