With the demand for highly skilled cybersecurity experts growing every day, the University of Guelph will launch a new graduate degree in cybersecurity and threat intelligence to train the next generation on how to stop cyberattacks before they happen.

“We are expecting 1.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2025,” said Prof. Ali Dehghantanha, who teaches in U of G’s School of Computer Science and is director of the new program. “Attacks are becoming more complicated, digitalization is pervading more of our world and too little attention has been paid to educating cybersecurity professionals. These three issues together make the situation critical, and this new program will be part of the solution.”

The new master of cybersecurity and threat intelligence, set to launch in September 2019, will help meet the need for experts in threat intelligence, threat hunting, digital forensics, intrusion prevention, privacy and crypto-analysis. “We need more people who are trained at the master’s level and can address these targeted attacks on critical infrastructure,” said Dehghantanha. “This new program will be unique in Canada because it offers a hand-on approach to cybersecurity training. Students will be learning by doing, and this integration is what makes this program different.”

Students in the program will receive laptops with cutting-edge software and will work in a state-of-the-art, $2-million isolated lab that will allow them to run real-world attacks. While engaging with active adversaries, students will learn the tactics of attackers as well as the techniques to build defence and detection systems. Students will complete a final project with one of the industry partners (McAfee Canada, CISCO Systems, Information Systems Architects (ISA), eSentire, Georgian Partners, Blackberry, IBM) to build on their new skills. 

“Our program will be focused on the most challenging and technical aspects of the information security field and deliver graduates with advanced skill sets that are in high demand,” said Dave Whittle, U of G’s associate vice-president and chief information officer, who initiated the program.