World-class cybersecurity research institute

By luring in cyber attacks, the research lab at UNB gathers research to make the Internet a safer place

Most people try to avoid cyber attacks. At UNB Fredericton’s Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity (CIC), they welcome them.

The cybersecurity research lab is home to the only Canadian chapter of the Honeynet Project, which attempts to lure in cyber attacks and provide researchers with the attacker’s information.

They then use that data for research purposes – making Internet usage stronger and safer.

A world-class research lab

“It is one of the only focused research centres on network security, which makes us different from others who do other types of security,” said Dr. Ali Ghorbani, dean of UNB Fredericton’s faculty of computer science.

“It is world-class because it has produced research results that have been cited and used by others.”

The CIC produced the ISCX data set, a benchmark to validate research results or techniques. Ghorbani said over 800 universities, businesses and research institutes have used the data set to evaluate their work.

“Other universities in the Canadian landscape do have research in cybersecurity but they’re mostly pockets of smaller groups that are doing research and development on a specific area,” said Ghorbani.

Students and industry partners working together

Currently, the CIC is made up of 20 research associates, postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, master’s students, developers, programmers and co-op students.

Researchers at the institute work closely with industry partners. That hands-on experience differs from the primarily theoretical research approaches of other labs, Ghorbani said.

Hugo González, a PhD student in the program, works on android malware and authorship attribution.

“It is a great opportunity to learn, develop and research on hot topics, also on industry-related projects,” he said.

In his time working at the CIC, González has worked on a handful of projects both for industry partners and his own academics. He said the institute is a breeding ground of creativity because of the skills and passions of those working there.

“The director and the associate director select the best candidates each round from all the applicants. With their leadership and vision, we are working on hot topics in the area, and developing research projects with great industry partners.”

Graduates coming out of the program often find well-paying jobs. Ghorbani said former students have gone on to work in cybersecurity positions for employers like the City of Vancouver and the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies.

As companies learn about the importance of cybersecurity, these jobs are becoming more important in the field – meaning the lab at UNB has even more to offer.

“We are one of the big players in the security domain,” he said.

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