ISC, a non-profit consortium for security certification of international information systems, is establishing its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters in Hong Kong. It will co-ordinate training programmes and examinations for Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) candidates from its Printing House office in Central. ISC managing director James Duffy said the certificates were recognised throughout the industry. 'I believed that there is a shortage of IT security professionals and we are trying to serve Asia from the United States,' he said. The group was set up in 1998 in Massachusetts. Mr Duffy said the number of CISSPs had risen to 6,907 last year from 700 in 1997. There are expected to be 13,000 by the end of this year. In Asia, CISSP numbers rose to 661 last year from 65 in 2000, with 267 from Hong Kong, which has the most CISSPs of any city outside the US. About 40 are from the mainland. Mr Duffy said the demand in Hong Kong, with its high-technology base and security awareness, was huge. ISC has been partnering with City University of Hong Kong to offer exams and review sessions. The company plans to have the local CISSP base grow to 1,500 by increasing the number of examinations and partnering with educational institutes. During the course of this year it will host at least eight CISSP examinations. Chester Soong, Asia-Pacific director for certification services, said the CISSP programme was highly popular among Hong Kong companies. Pacific Century CyberWorks required employees with manager-rank in its business-to-business unit to take the course, while the Information Technology Services Department has started to introduce the course to its employees. Other local clients included Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mr Duffy said the company would decide later whether to translate its curriculum and examinations into Chinese to cope with the soaring demand from mainland IT professionals. 'We have received a grant from the Canada Government to have it translated into French and so there is a possibility we will translate it into Chinese as well,' he said.