New cybersecurity initiatives to train people how to prevent, detect and respond to cybercrime and computer security vulnerabilities are booting up in Canada.
A national cybersecurity strategy was announced last year, seeking to make safe both the systems used by government and the experiences Canadians get online.
Individual provincial initiatives are also underway, such as plans for a centre of excellence in Ontario, as described by the province’s first security advisor.
But in New Brunswick, a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is now in place that makes the province a leader in the field. The government collaborated with academia and the private sector for the launch of CyberNB, an agency that will tackle economic, societal and technical challenges to a safe and resilient Internet head on.
CyberNB officials have identified five key programs that make up its overall cybercrime-fighting strategy: CyberSecure aims to protect New Brunswick’s critical network and computing infrastructure; CyberInnovate supports start-up companies and new product developments. There’s the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick, and plans to create CyberSpark, a cybersecurity business park.
Another of the five main CyberNB initiatives, CyberSmart, will see the launch next year of an advanced diploma program for cybersecurity students at New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). Applications are now open for the program, designed for those who have a diploma or degree in network administration, computer science or equivalent experience in network administration.
“We are still finalizing the instructional team for this program and we are working closely with industry on appropriate hands-on learning opportunities,” described Jeff Dempsey, NBCC’s Dean of Information Technology, in an email exchange with WhatsYourTech.ca. Through a combination of classroom theory and hands-on learning, graduates will be prepared to work in an IT setting, helping to protect confidential information and the IT networks of their companies or clients, he added.
The provincial government has also invested more than $800,000 for licensing The Cyber Highway; it’s an online portal where information is available for small and medium-sized companies to gain certification and achieve compliance in an international program known as Cyber Essentials. The Canadian CE cybersecurity tool has been established with the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) and Cyber Essentials Direct Ltd., a U.K.-based cyberintelligence firm.
“We are just finalizing our initial phase and we have worked with key partners to go through the certification process of this proven standard and set of best practices,” noted Heather Maclean, the Marketing Lead at CyberNB. She explained that the Cyber Highway training and certification tool has been ported to adapted for Canada, and it’s been “Canadianized” and made available in both official languages.
An official launch is expected soon, she added, but in the meantime, certification standards and delivery agencies have been identified, and key partners from industry are on board to support the initiative.
Maclean is also busy helping coordinate plans for an upcoming cybersecurity summit in New Brunswick. She’s Co-chair for CyberSmart 2018, and she’s looking to make New Brunswick an international focal point for fighting cybercrime.
“This is an important event for collaboration and [we’re] partnering to create a focused effort to help mitigate the global shortage of cybersecurity professional,” she described. “Last year we had 350 people from across Canada and the U.S.; this year, we are very much looking forward to this being an international event.”
Speakers from the U.S., Australia and France are on the agenda, with participants from The Netherlands and the U.K. being confirmed. One of the keynote speakers Maclean mentioned is Melissa Hathaway, a noted international IT expert who led cybersecurity initiatives for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The two-day event will be staged in May, 2018, in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The NBCC CyberSmart diploma program launches in September, 2018.