Banks challenge Canadian post-secondary students to create cyber solutions

Five of the country’s biggest banks are offering cash prizes to post-secondary students and recent graduates for creating possible solutions to improve the cyber security responses of financial institutions.

The Canadian Bankers Association today announced the CBA Cyber Security Challenge for creating solutions for strengthening mobile app security, network security and web security. The winner in each category will receive $2,000, the second-place winner will get $500 plus a virtual reality console and headset, while the third-place winner will get a $500 gift card.

Arguably one of the biggest benefits of the competition, however, will for finalists to meet IT officials from the sponsoring banks: RBC, CIBC, BMO, Scotiabank and TD Bank. Canadian banks are among the country’s biggest employers of IT graduates.

Those eligible are current students from universities and colleges in Canada and those who have graduated within the last two years. However, residents of Quebec aren’t eligible. In an email, Mathieu Labrèche, the CBA’s director of media strategy explained the association didn’t want to conflict with an innovation competition for students and startups announced late last year by Montreal-based National Bank.

Applications for the CBA contest don’t need to have degrees in computer science. Organizers hope this will result in a diverse number of participants.

“The CBA Cyber Security Challenge will harness the burgeoning expertise of Canada’s future workforce across diverse perspectives and skillsets,” association president Neil Parmenter said in a statement. “We’re excited to see what bold ideas students will bring to the banking industry.”

The CBA represents more than 60 domestic and foreign banks.

Applications by individuals or teams including a five slide proposal have to be submitted by March 1. They will be winnowed down to a list of 50 by March 15th. That group will hone their proposals and have until April 10th to make more detailed 10-slide submissions. A group of 30 finalists will be selected by April 24th, who will then prototype and pitch their solutions in Toronto on May 16 and 17.

Judges will consider submissions based on these criteria:

  • Innovation: How innovative is the solution in its use of new or existing technology to solve the problem described in the brief? Are there other solutions available and if so, how does this differentiate from them?
  • Relevancy: How well does the deliverable respond to the specific need set out in the competition brief?
  • Feasibility: How feasible is the solution to put into practice? Does the solution make sense financially? Will the solution be sustainable over the long term?
  • Impact: What is the scale of potential social impact? How broad is the impact? How many people will the solution reach? How significant is the impact?
  • Clarity: How well do presenters articulate their solution and the potential impact it will have on society?


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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