‘The idea is getting students into this real-world experience so they actually have a sense what it’s like to work in these areas’
A new cybersecurity hub at the University of Calgary aims to arm students and industry with the tools to mitigate cyberattacks.
The Canadian Cyber Assessment, Training and Experimentation Centre opened Thursday. Its labs are designed to simulate situations that cybersecurity experts face in the field.
“What we want to do is create, to the greatest extent possible, a real-world experience of working in a security centre that you might find in certain large businesses or in government agencies or even within military applications,” said Ken Barker, director of the U of C’s Institute for Security, Privacy and Information Assurance.
“The idea is getting students into this real-world experience so they actually have a sense what it’s like to work in these areas.”
A common idea in cybersecurity is “ethical hacking,” Barker said, in which users attempt to identify security vulnerabilities so those weaknesses can be addressed. But since this activity can carry legal risks in the real world, the school set up a virtual environment called a “cyber range” to simulate the process.
Students can even be broken up into a virtual game of capture the flag, in which one team attempts to break into a system while the other works to thwart those attacks.
Professionals with cybersecurity skills are in high demand, Barker said, as focus on the field has magnified in recent years.
“The growth in this area and the challenge in this area is scary, in terms of how many attacks are actually occurring out there and in terms of the consciousness of people with digital assets in protecting them,” Barker said.
“We know, for example, that we have a significant shortfall in this country and around the world of cybersecurity experts who can come in and help companies out.”
Computer science students at the U of C can currently receive a concentrate in computer security, but Barker said he’d argue another degree could be offered entirely, to wrap together computer science concepts with the legal, policy and sociological aspects of cybersecurity.
The new training centre is opening in conjunction with Calgary-based businesses Raytheon Canada and ENFOCOM Corp.
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