The 3rd annual CyberSmart Summit (May 29-30) is fast approaching and cybersecurity continues to be more entrenched in our daily lives. Beyond the daily plethora of media reports on cyber attacks, ransomware, phishing and whaling, we are witnessing the continued integration of cybersecurity issues into domestic and foreign policy. Nations are looking to determine the right path to ensure society operates free from cyber attack – and critical infrastructure continues to function.

Digital literacy for the masses – like ‘driver’s education’ for all youth – is one way to ensure we have a more secure and capable citizenry. Programs such as those being implemented in New Brunswick by Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD), as well as those being introduced across Canada by our partner, Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), continue to increase Canada’s digital literacy rate. The secondary benefit of youth digital literacy is the awakening of young talented Canadians to future career opportunities in cybersecurity. As the size of the digital economy grows and more devices become ‘connected’, the number of new positions to be created to support digital security increases as well.

When we hear news of online activities that may influence democratic elections, or perhaps cyber incidents that halted hospitals from operating and providing patient care, we likely do not think through the numerous cybersecurity-related roles that are acting in the background. These are roles requiring unique skill sets including the ability to deter, detect, delay, identify, quarantine, recover, prosecute, insure, and update policy.

Youth with aptitudes and early introduction to coding, running scripts, and receiving mentorship from industry volunteers, can find themselves fast-tracking through high school toward a career in technology-related cybersecurity. Perhaps as a Security Operations Centre (SOC) operator or cyber forensics professional. The framework for curriculum development to ensure courses are offered throughout secondary and post-secondary to meet the demands of industry continues to be refined.

Keep in mind that the legal issues surrounding cybersecurity are also creating demands for lawyers with a strong understanding of digital rights, cybersecurity, forensics, machine learning, ethics, and jurisdictional issues. There are new jobs required at the same rapid rate of change we are witnessing in the digital economy.

The growing need for cybersecurity professionals is having a profound effect on educational institutions at all levels across the globe. Traditional procedures for the methodical and deliberate modification of curriculum in core subject areas are today proving too slow and inadequate to meet the needs of a dynamic subject area such as cybersecurity. Securing the digital world requires rapid, iterative, and innovative actions from education partners, with active collaboration between universities, colleges, private institutions, and school boards.

Let’s be clear: institutions choosing to remain rigid and refusing to collaborate in non-traditional ways can continue to do so. However, these same institutions will witness a declining interest in its programs, declining enrollment and irrelevance – even if once previously perceived as the pinnacle in cybersecurity education. The talent demands of the digital economy will seek out and work with education partners that are willing to work with industry. In cybersecurity, the traditional belief of universities being untouched by the bias of industry to ensure the freedom of academic research is now perceived as irrelevance. We are celebrating the new alignment of universities with colleges to create new paths to relevant degrees that industry will employ immediately upon graduation (if not sooner).

What is so exciting about the CyberSmart Summit is that those who attend – government agencies from around the world, academic institutions from Canada, the US, and Europe, as well as global industry leaders – all come together to collaborate, share best practices, celebrate successes, and work to improve outcomes going forward. The challenges we face to ensure digital literacy, digital security, and continued prosperity for our global economy are real. This summit ensures we continue to make progress to achieve success – together.

I look forward to welcoming you all to New Brunswick and the beautiful city of Fredericton.

Join us on May 29-30 in Fredericton for CyberSmart 2019. Registration is still open, with early bird pricing available until April 30.


Written by Tyson Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, CyberNB