Concordia gets $400K in Cisco security technology

Concordia University in Montreal has received a donation of network security technologies from Cisco Systems Canada Inc. worth more than CD$400,000 so students can further hone their security skills to keep up with new threats on the ever-advancing Web.


Access to the security technologies from the Toronto-based network technology vendor will allow students with the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering (CIISE) a dedicated space to research and gain valuable practical experience.


“Cisco’s network security laboratory will be used as a testbed to verify and validate our research on network security issues,” said Mourad Debbabi, a professor at Concordia University.


Areas like botnet detection and prevention, network security metrics, distributed denial of service attacks and malware analysis are of particular interest, said Debbabi.


The donated equipment will also serve as a training ground for the 70 students enrolled in the Information Systems Security and Quality Systems Engineering masters programs.


The technology from Cisco includes a range of security appliances and integrated network security like virtual private network (VPN), a firewall, remote-workforce security, intrusion prevention and advanced access control.


Network security is important for today’s enterprises that want to protect themselves against the continual threats stemming from an ever-evolving Web, said Jean-Claude Ouellet, vice-president of sales with Cisco.


“There’s a big trend worldwide where companies are investing heavily in security for their own network,” said Ouellet.


Providing the technological resources to nurture much needed network security skill among students is valuable to companies seeking to hire that talent, said Ouellet. “It’s not just about Cisco but in the IT industry it’s really tough to recruit people with the right skill set to work,” he said.


Establishing research partnerships with IT vendors and government agencies will help Concordia University design research activities and provide valuable security skills training for graduate students, said Debbabi. “(It) is crucial to us in terms of providing a stimulus that will shape our research,” he said.


The donation of network security technology was made in September 2009 as part of a continued relationship with Cisco stemming from the late 90s. In 2008, along with the vendor, Concordia became the first Canadian university to deploy an 802.11n wireless network across the entire campus as part of its mobility strategy.


Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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