IBM Canada, University of Ottawa to build cybersecurity learning facility

An image featuring the inside of IBM Canada's facility. Multiple people are sitting down in their designated spots with a monitor screen in front of them. All of the employees are facing two large monitors displaying a map and analytics.

IBM Canada and the University of Ottawa have entered a multi-year partnership to build and operate Cyber Range, an experiential learning facility that will provide research and training in cybersecurity and cyber safety.

IBM is committing approximately $21.65 million CAD of in-kind services to the university over five years to support business development and security training. University of Ottawa will invest nearly $7 million CAD over the same period.

A spokesperson from IBM told BetaKit that the contribution will include advisory and governance; operating budget; technology, including IBM’s security software, access to pre-built cyber threat scenarios and immersive experiences; business development support; and annual IBM Cyber Range training for faculty and students.

The University of Ottawa said that the Cyber Range will deliver security innovation, training, and expertise in both English and French to “help grow Canada’s cybersecurity workforce across government, industry, and academia.”

Following the first five years of the deal, both entities will have the option to extend the agreement by up to five additional years. The Cyber Range will be run in partnership by co-directors Iosif Viorel Onut, from the IBM Canada Centre for Advanced Studies, and engineering professor Guy-Vincent Jourdan from the University of Ottawa.

The range’s team will also receive technical support from IBM including the company’s Cyber Range team based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and other IBM security experts. The Cyber Range team will travel annually to the University of Ottawa to provide on-site training for two weeks.

The Cyber Range will train participants on how to properly plan, respond, manage, contain, and remediate a cyber incident to gain an understanding of the skills and preparation necessary to anticipate and defend against current and future cyber threats.

RELATED: University of Ottawa opens STEM Complex with $51 million from federal government

Sylvain Charbonneau, vice president, research and innovation at the university, called the facility the first of its kind in Canada, offering opportunities for interdisciplinary research and professional skills development.

Some near-term examples of interdisciplinary research initiatives leveraging the Cyber Range include the development of tailored cybersecurity scenarios for educational and professional development purposes, the study of cyber-attack management and organizational response, as well as the implementation of novel cybersecurity and cyber safety methods, policies, tools, and systems.

Around seven faculties within the university are expected to make use of the new Cyber Range, including Engineering, Law, Telfer School of Management, Social Sciences, Science, and Medicine.

The cybersecurity facility will be located within the University of Ottawa’s Cyber Hub in the university’s STEM Complex, with expected completion for the Cyber Range in the spring of 2022. Launched in December 2019 in partnership with IBM, the Cybersecurity Hub was created to address critical government, public, and private sector needs for advanced cybersecurity, specializing in research, solutions, skills, and services.

The STEM complex’s construction was completed in October 2018 with support from the Government of Canada, where the University of Ottawa received $51 million CAD through the government’s Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The rest of the financing came via $6.4 million from the province of Ontario and $57.1 million from the university, bringing the total cost of its completion to $115 million.

In February 2018, the University of Ottawa also received $750,000 from Scotiabank to launch a new initiative to identify solutions to issues related to ethical AI and technology development.

Image courtesy from IBM Canada

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and the business and technology editor at The Eyeopener, Ryerson's largest independent newspaper.