IBM to pump more than $20M into uOttawa cybersecurity hub

Cybersecurity stock photo

IBM is investing millions of dollars in a new research and training facility at the University of Ottawa designed to boost local expertise at fending off cyber attacks.

The global tech giant says it plans to contribute $21 million worth of in-kind services over the next five years at the new cybersecurity hub on the uOttawa campus, while the university will chip in $7 million. The partners will have the option to extend the agreement for up to five additional years.

Dubbed the Cyber Range, the facility will be located in the school’s new STEM Complex. Industry, government and academic users will tap into IBM's technology to run simulated cyber attacks that mimic real-world scenarios.

Steven Astorino, vice-president of data and AI development and Canada lab director at IBM, said the hub will help participants guard against and better respond to growing online security threats.

“IBM Canada’s expanding partnership with uOttawa will create immense opportunities for interdisciplinary activities, as well as industry and public sector cybersecurity training – all while upskilling today’s students to better protect Canadians against cyberthreats,” he said in a statement.

Costly fallout

The news follows the release of a recent IBM report that suggests it takes several months and millions of dollars for Canadian companies to recover from a typical cyber attack.

The report found the average cost of a data breach in Canada was $6.75 million. Companies surveyed reported a mean time of 164 days to identify they had a breach and 60 days to contain it.

Meanwhile, a new study released Thursday by the Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Registration Authority says Canadian households are also facing a growing barrage of threats such as phishing scams and ransomware attacks.

The agency says the total number of cyber threats blocked by its software that prevents servers from connecting with potentially malicious websites rose by more than 30 per cent in the third quarter compared with previous quarters.