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Annual Report

Securing our future

UNB, a leader in cybersecurity, continues to undertake innovative research and training with the help of its partners to tackle the challenges of the cyber age.

Canadian Senate unveils cybersecurity report at UNB

From left to right, Sen. Percy Mockler, Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen, Sen. Douglas Black, and Dr. Ali Ghorbani, director of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity at the University of New Brunswick. Credit: Rob Blanchard/UNB

The University of New Brunswick hosted the Standing Senate Committee of Banking, Trade and Commerce (BANC) as they released the report "Cyber Assault: It should keep you up at night" in October 2018.

According to the report, Canada's infrastructure is currently vulnerable to cyber attacks. With three out of five Canadians having four or more devices connected to the internet in their homes, 10 million Canadians were victims of cyber crime in 2017.

The committee urged the federal government to create a new federal minister of cybersecurity to coordinate cybersecurity efforts across all levels of government. It also asked the federal government to modernize Canada's privacy legislation and offer businesses incentives to invest in cybersecurity improvements to keep Canadians safe from cyber crimes.

The committee insisted national cybersecurity strategy starts with education. During the release of the report, the committee looked to Dr. Ali Ghorbani, director of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity at UNB, as the leader of national cybersecurity.

"The skills shortage in cybersecurity is well documented and very clear," said Ghorbani. "By 2021, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions and cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually."

"The weakest link in cybersecurity is now people, not devices," he continued. “Cybersecurity breaches impact all of us, so it's crucial that all levels of government, academia and industry work together to prevent them."

Cyber lecture series

Organizers from UNB hosted a series of lectures to initiate a dialogue in the area of cyber operations that included government agencies, the private sector and educational institutions within the province.

UNB Fredericton’s faculty of law, the North American Society for Intelligence History, the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity, the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and UNB Saint John’s faculty of arts partnered to present the series of free public lectures.

The aim was to provide an educational forum to inform the public of various challenges in the cyber age. According to leading experts, Canadians remain largely unaware of the cybersecurity challenges our country faces.

In September 2019, Dr. Nasir Memon, vice dean for academics and student affairs and professor of computer science and engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering gave a talk titled "Seeing is Believing: Media Integrity in a Post Truth World", at UNB Fredericton.

Dr. Michael Warner, the historian for the US Cyber Command and an adjunct faculty member at John Hopkins University, presented "The History and Future of Cyber Intelligence" in October, also held at UNB Fredericton. And in November, on the Saint John campus, Dr. David Fahrenkrug, an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University gave a talk titled "Cyber Warfare and the State in the Information Age”.

Dr. Sarah-Jane Corke, associate professor at UNB Fredericton’s department of history, hopes to make this lecture series an annual event.

“The province of New Brunswick is home to a diverse group of organizations interested in cybersecurity,” she said. “The series is designed to appeal to a wide audience.”

The lectures were funded by the U.S. Consulate General in Halifax and UNB.

Graduate sells cybersecurity firm for more than $3.6 million

In 2016, James Stewart founded EhEye, a cybersecurity software system that detects open weapons and suspicious activity using existing camera infrastructure in places like stadiums, airports and government buildings.

Dr. Stewart has a PhD in computer science from UNB and has worked as a sessional lecturer at UNB for more than 16 years. He has spent nearly two decades researching artificial intelligence, emerging threats, and user and entity behavioral analytics.

In November 2018, EhEye was purchased for more than $3.6 million in shares by Patriot One Technologies, a Toronto-based company that specializes in threat detection software.

When Stewart started EhEye, he wanted to do something difficult. He had a vision for where public safety needed to go, and the market was quickly expanding.

“Now, EhEye has 12 people on their team and half of them come from UNB. It was important that we provided employment on a local level and to support UNB students and graduates, as well as our local economy,” said Stewart, who is now senior vice-president of video analytics for Patriot One.

“We met members of Patriot One at a trade show last year. We both had similar technologies, but their technology focuses on concealed weapons, while ours detects open weapons. By layering our technologies, we can create time and distance during an incident.”

By joining Patriot One, EhEye technology will see a major boost in resources and support, which will allow them to progress and further develop their technology at a much faster pace right here in New Brunswick.

Securing critical infrastructure through cyber innovation

Left to right: Danny D’Amours, site leader, Fredericton and team leader, NRC; Dr. Ali Ghorbani, director, Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity; Dr. Carolyn Watters, chief digital research officer, NRC; Dr. David MaGee, vice-president (research), UNB.

The Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity (CIC) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) announced the opening of the CIC-NRC Cybersecurity Collaboration Consortium (CNCCC) in Fredericton in June 2019.

This innovative hub, housed on UNB’s Fredericton campus, will lead to discoveries and advances in cybersecurity including publications, patents and the commercialization of technology, as well as provide training opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

"This collaboration centre brings together leading researchers to form a joint team and make significant advances in cybersecurity for Canadians,” said Mr. Iain Stewart, president of the NRC. “We are proud to partner with the University of New Brunswick’s Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity and look forward to the success of this exciting collaboration."

The CNCCC will conduct innovative cybersecurity research for critical infrastructure with a focus on internet of things security, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction and natural language processing.

Siemens Canada joins CIC

Siemens Canada announced its corporate membership with the CIC in January 2019.

In May 2018, Siemens announced the creation of a Cybersecurity Centre in Fredericton with support from OpportunitiesNB (ONB). The centre is now operational, focusing on research and development, consulting and managed services, and creating potential for global exports of locally developed cybersecurity solutions. Up to 30 highly skilled jobs in engineering, cyber analysis and consulting will be created in Phase 1 by 2020, with another 30 jobs expected in Phase 2.

As an important part of these activities, Siemens Canada joined CIC as a corporate member to partner on research projects and the training of cybersecurity talent.

“Cybersecurity is one of the most important and complex challenges facing businesses and public institutions today,” said Faisal Kazi, president and CEO of Siemens Canada. “As a world leader in cyber protection for critical infrastructure, Siemens is honoured to become a member of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the impressive efforts already underway in New Brunswick with UNB and CyberNB, a special operating agency of ONB.”

“New Brunswick is well positioned as a leader in cybersecurity with the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity located at the University of New Brunswick and a strong group of corporate partners coming on board,” said the Honourable Mary Wilson, Minister of Economic Development and Small Business and Minister responsible for OpportunitiesNB. “Their commitment to developing the skills and knowledge sets essential in critical infrastructure protection, right here in New Brunswick, creates a solid foundation for continued growth in this sector.”

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