TORONTO – A new global cybersecurity initiative will allow higher education institutions to share real-time data to mitigate growing cyber threat incidents.
The Canadian Shared Security Operations Center (CanSSOC), announced on March 25, will partner with cybersecurity agencies in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to address the vulnerability of higher education institutions to cyberattacks and share data on cybersecurity.
“What we will do is share specific threats that we see, in real time as possible, in the research and education sectors of our respective countries,” says Issac Straley, head of information security at CanSSOC and the University of Toronto. “We are talking about … active information related to attacks, such as information about IP addresses, files or other indicators that would allow an institution to better detect what it has had or has had an incident.”
This new partnership comes after the launch of the CanSSOC pilot project “feed feed”, announced in June 2020, which allowed CanSSOC members of Canadians to receive real-time information on cybersecurity issues, potential threats and security breaches.
CanSSOC members include the organization’s founding members, McGill University, McMaster University, Ryerson University, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto.
“Being part of CanSSOC provides an additional layer of risk mitigation for all post-secondary institutions by receiving early warnings and being able to respond quickly to increasing cybersecurity incidents,” says Jennifer Burns, Associate Vice President, Information Technology. information and main information Official of the University of British Columbia in a statement to CTV.
This new partnership will see collaboration between CanSSOC, OmniSOC and the Research and Education Networks Sharing Information and Analysis Center in the United States, Jisc in the United Kingdom and AARNet in Australia.
Similar to the threat feeding pilot project, this partnership will allow international cybersecurity organizations to cure, filter and share their cybersecurity data, while protecting the identity of the institutions involved.
“We collect several sources,” Straley says. “We use business intelligence on threats, we use intelligence on threats from government sources. We also work by generating our own intelligence information about threats, therefore [asking] What do we see now in Canadian institutions and what do our global partners see, also in the research and education sector? ”
Straley says this cybersecurity effort is important because higher education institutions, such as universities, colleges, and polytechnics, are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks.
“It’s a challenging space,” Straley says. “We do a lot of things in higher education. The social landscape is quite complex, teaching and learning, we have information about people, our students, our staff, our donors. And we also have intellectual property that we are generating ”.
Straley claims that cybersecurity threats can be divided into three categories: general attacks that can be experienced by average Internet users, attacks by criminal organizations, including ransom or exploitation for money, or attacks by national states, such as espionage. .
“If we look across the industry, individual institutions may have different levels of commitment or different concerns, but across our industry all three of us are concerned,” says Straley.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made the issue of cybersecurity especially difficult, as the shift to e-learning has forced more people online and made institutions more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
“A lot is due to the fact that the chances of the attackers have increased. The return they get [has increased], because there are so many more institutions online and so many more people online. Attackers are more motivated, ”Straley says.
Straley is confident that this new global partnership will help better protect higher education institutions from cybersecurity threats.
“It’s critical that we work together,” Straley says. “Canadian institutions have seen it, other institutions have seen it. We soon partnered just to show that it can be done, but our goal is to have a real international collaboration to be able to change the economy of our defense against cybersecurity. “