TD Bank joins UNB’s Canadian Institute for Cyber Security

TD Bank has become the latest paying corporate member of the Canadian Institute for Cyber Security at the University of New Brunswick.

The two institutions made the announcement Monday, saying the move supports the bank’s focus on investing in technology talent and will include the co-development of new cyber risk management technologies.

“Our investment in the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity sends a strong signal that the University of New Brunswick is fast becoming an international centre of cyber security excellence,” said TD Bank executive vice-president and CIO Jeff Henderson, “We will continue to invest in developing Canadian cyber security talent as part of being a bank that our customers can continue to trust and rely on.”

The bank joins Bell Canada, IBM Canada and McCain Foods as founding members. Each pays $100,000 a year. “What [the bank] gets in return is two or three of our highly-qualified people who will work with TD on the kind of problem they would like to be worked on,” institute director Ali Ghorbani said in an interview.

Ali Ghorbani, director of UNB’s Canadian Institute for Cyber Security. Photo from UNB Media Services

Recent and ongoing projects with the private sector include ACES, an anti-child exploitation system developed with Bulletproof Solutions, Inc.; botnet detection, analysis and visualization with IBM, Communications Research Centre Canada, the RCMP and the University of Victoria; high-speed DDoS attack detection with Heimdall Networks; and Security-oriented cross-correlation analysis of log data with Fibre Centre.

The move is also part of the bank’s wider hunt for cyber security solutions. TD recently opened a cybersecurity office in Israel to take advantage of work done there by researchers and startups.

“Like any other financial institution TD has to constantly adapt and improve their cyber security operations to make sure they stay secure,” Ghorbani said. Becoming a founding member means they essentially have a satellite office at the institute to work together on projects. including new threat assessment methodologies and algorithms.

Created in 2007 from what was then called UNB’s information security centre of excellence, the institute is a cross-disciplinary body where researchers and academics from other parts of the university including the humanities, law, business and education work.

“The need for becoming inter-disciplinary convinced us to become an institute,” Ghorbani said, “given that cyber security is more than an IT problem. It’s a people problem. It’s a business problem.” Having a group with broad backgrounds helps in the development of cyber security solutions, he said.

Currently, the institute includes eight faculty and researchers, 13 staff developers, several post-doctorate fellows and 22 doctorate and masters students. In addition to being admitted to the university, to join the institute students have to pass an exam to make sure they have the background to work with its research team.
Research areas include big security data analytics, security data visualization, security analysis and risk management, intrusion detection and prevention and malware analysis, malware attribution.

Students at UNB’s cyber security institute. Photo by UNB Media Services

Ghorbani, who is also a Canada Research Chair in cyber security, said the institute has three major mandates: Training and talent development, research and innovation – that includes spinning off startups such as Q1 Labs, now part of IBM — and making the centre a cyber security hub by 2012. That means experts point to the institute as the place to go for the best training and researchers.

UNB is one of a number of Canadian universities with strong cyber security programs including the University of Waterloo, Concordia University, the University of Calgary, Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

(An earlier version of this story said J.D. Irving and NB Power are corporate members of the institute. They were named by Ali Ghorbani. However, these companies are still disussing membership.)

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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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