When it comes to cyber threats, you can’t always predict when one will occur—but you can prepare.
Responding to a cyber incident is a business-wide responsibility, says IBM, and an “entire organization should be prepared to react with speed, agility, common purpose, and the right security services.”
IBM first launched its “Cyber Range” concept in 2016 to address the fact that most organizations are not, in fact, prepared to react well to cyber threats.
Canadian companies pay nearly $7 million on average in data breach costs—the third highest in the world, according to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report.
That is why IBM recently announced its first Cyber Range on a Canadian university campus.
The uOttawa Cyber Range is billed as a “unique learning, training, and research facility where students, researchers, and companies can work in a realistic, immersive environment to learn how to protect against cybersecurity threats.”
It is the result of a five-year, $30-million collaboration between IBM and uOttawa.
The Cyber Range will “help the university enrich its curriculum and train cyber security experts with the skills and knowledge to debunk serious security breaches,” believes Jacques Frémont, Vice Chancellor at the university. “Our partnership with IBM Canada will also help fund innovative research in cyber safety, which will help keep governments, organizations and Canadians one step ahead of cyber threats.”
The campus, which opened October 19, offers “highly realistic cyber response training exercises to help businesses and government organizations across the country better prepare for and strengthen defences against real-world cyber threats,” according to a statement from IBM.
“The uOttawa-IBM Cyber Range will deliver an extraordinary level of training and experience for Canadian business and government leaders as they face increasingly sophisticated security threats posed by cybercriminals,” stated Dave McCann, president of IBM Canada. “In a digital landscape as vast as Canada, the uOttawa-IBM Cyber Range has the potential to be a game-changer, offering businesses across the country the experience, knowledge, and expertise they need to protect and safeguard their operations.”
The Cyber Range training will also be integrated into undergraduate and graduate courses, while new microprograms and micro-credentials will be offered to private and public sector professionals, including industry certifications, uOttawa said.
With a half a dozen experts working at the faculty and 30 stations for trainees, the program hopes to up-skill 200 students annually as the Range “seeks to address the growing skills gap in cybersecurity and cyber safety.”
Demand for cybersecurity professionals has never been greater, but Canada sees one in six cybersecurity jobs sit empty. From 2019 to 2021, the labour market grew from 84,000 to 123,000, but the gap in supply and demand did not close.
“The need for certified skilled workers continues to grow,” says the University of Ottawa. “The Cyber Range has been developed to provide diverse organizations with greater access to state-of-the-art technology in order to build cybersecurity resilience across Canada.”
The upskilling approach is becoming increasingly common across Canada to address shortfalls in-house. This method and others are being adopted in various ways throughout the country to tackle the nation’s cybersecurity concerns.
The Catalyst Cyber Accelerator at Toronto Metropolitan University, for example, is the foremost cybersecurity-focused business accelerator in Canada. According to the Catalyst Cyber Accelerator Report, a publication tracking the growth of 39 Canadian cybersecurity startups and scale-ups, Catalyst-accelerated startups have created more than 300 new jobs, growing their workforces by an average of 72% after graduating.
And Google, in response to the pressing need for cybersecurity professionals, launched the Google Cybersecurity Certificate as the newest addition to its Google Career Certificates program. The certificate is designed to prepare learners for entry-level careers in cybersecurity within six months, with no prior experience required.
In addition, The British Columbia Institute of Technology and Cisco Canada partnered in 2022 on the Industrial Network Cybersecurity Lab to address the global demand for cybersecurity talent.
Cybersecurity offers a stable career trajectory, with some of the lowest unemployment rates of any field. According to the Information and Communications Technology Council, demand is so high that “some international reports on the cybersecurity labour gap tout global unemployment rates as low as 0%.”