Canadian academia, industry team up for IT security

Leaders across academia and the private sector are forming a coalition to protect Canada’s cyber infrastructure.

Dubbed Forum for Information Security Innovation in Canada (FISIC), the coalition aims to build a base of Canadian security expertise that would assist government in protecting the country’s cyber infrastructure.

This will be achieved by collaborative relationships, funding and developing research projects, and speeding up availability of innovative solutions, FISIC partners said in a statement. FISIC founding members include Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS), Bell Security Solutions Inc., Carleton University, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, and Communications and Information Technology Ontario.

The main driver for this initiative is MITACS findings on the vulnerability of Canada’s information infrastructure, according to the organization’s scientific director Arvind Gupta. Based in Burnaby, B.C., MITACS is network of centres of excellence for the mathematical sciences.

“We’ve been talking with [industry] partners on undertaking research into protecting the [information] infrastructure,” Gupta said. A meeting last fall “led to the idea that we needed to study issues around security, bring together various players, and have an [forum] where they could discuss issues.”

Gupta said FISIC would enable companies to have access to Canadian scientists, and scientists to familiarize themselves with the security problems companies confront. “[It aims to] bring these two communities together, so they can work on a common set of issues, and ensure that they are working on the right issues.”

The Forum may also itself promote new security solutions, Gupta added.

As a not-for-profit organization, FISIC will initially rely on MITACS’ funding as well as financial support from its industry partners. For its part, university participants will contribute the expertise of its faculty members, according to Gupta. Participants in a project, he said, would pool their expertise. Gupta is confident many industry players, as well as government agencies, will soon join the coalition. Currently, there is no membership fee to join FISIC, he said.

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