December 3, 2019 | Written by: Sylvain Charbonneau
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Tabaret Hall, University of Ottawa.
In our increasingly interconnected world, improving cybersecurity and safety has reached a critical point as threats and attacks become more sophisticated and insidious. According to the World Economic Forum, cybersecurity breaches have grown by 67 percent over the past five years alone. We’ve all heard about or perhaps experienced firsthand the repercussions of such acts: hospitals in England paralyzed by hackers or, closer to home, a credit union data breach compromising the personal information of millions of customers.
The human and economic costs are staggering. A report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee states that cybercrime cost the global economy $600 billion (USD) in 2017. The world’s business leaders rank such attacks as the second most significant threat to their enterprise, after a financial crisis. A chronic shortage of talent to deal with the dizzying pace at which new technologies and threats evolve is affecting organizations everywhere.
Combining forces is the only way to tackle such a daunting global challenge, which is why the University of Ottawa’s longstanding partnership with IBM is so vital. Our latest agreement with IBM – providing research support and substantial access to special data sets, software and resources – will capitalize on its research and technology expertise in data analytics, deep learning, software and systems. It will also benefit from the University’s research, teaching and training strengths in cybersecurity and safety in disciplines ranging from mathematics, engineering and materials science to management, ethics and law. The overall objective is to develop joint research initiatives on cybersecurity, blockchain, analytics and cognitive technologies that will address government, public and private sector needs.
But the collaboration does not end there. The University of Ottawa’s proximity to federal agencies in the national capital region, which have a direct interest in sound cybersecurity and safety strategies, means that it is uniquely positioned to work on addressing technological, social and regulatory challenges on a national and international scale.
Our researchers are leaders in developing secure quantum computing networks, in cybercrime detection and prevention and in the ethics surrounding technology, among many related areas. We offer advanced training for leaders working in security and intelligence so that they can better advise the government on issues of national security.
Tapping into Ottawa’s rich ecosystem of science, technology and policy expertise, this collaboration will help the University of Ottawa build a world-class research hub for cybersecurity and cyber safety and to train a highly skilled, cyber-savvy workforce for now and the future. Ultimately, it is our hope that this partnership, rooted in the principle of strength in unity, will help protect Canadians from growing forms of cyber threats and attacks.