The University of New Brunswick, British Columbia’s Thompson Rivers University and Memorial University of Newfoundland are first in Canada to offer a new online IT security awareness course for students, faculty and staff.

Recently three Canadian universities have gone beyond the usual methods for increasing awareness about hackers, malware and other IT dangers by launching a new online course to educate students, faculty and staff.

“The best way to protect any IT system is to provide the people who use it with the knowledge and training they need to use it safely and securely,” says Terry Nikkel, associate vice-president, Information Technology Services (ITS) at the UNB.

University networks around the world are repeatedly hit with attacks from online criminal organizations, hactivists, and nation-state organized efforts to disrupt infrastructure or steal intellectual property.

The new online course offers insight into common IT security threats such as phishing attempts, hacking and malware as well as practical advice and tutorials on easy ways to protect your information. Topics covered in the course include how to select a secure password and how to identify a link’s actual web address.

“Education of users is now the first line of defense for IT, we need to make sure everyone knows the risks and can recognize the threats,” says Graham Mowbray, director of computing & communications at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN).

The new IT security course was launched in November at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and went live this month at UNB and MUN. The course can be accessed via the schools’ Learning Management Systems.

“We’ve used this course to help augment our face-to-face IT security awareness programs,” says Hugh Burley, information security officer at TRU. “We are currently exploring an incentive program to help boost enrolment.”

David Shipley, UNB’s Enterprise Strategy Analyst, says the university has launched a communications campaign to encourage students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the free course.

“We’re excited about the potential for this course to help our students, faculty and staff protect their information and the university from online threats.”

This new IT security course was developed collaboratively through the Canadian University Council of Chief Information Officers (CUCCIO) in partnership with Toronto-based Information Security Company Sentry Metrics.

“Working together we’ve been able to develop this course to help meet the needs of students, faculty and staff across the country,” said Ghilaine Roquet, president of CUCCIO and CIO at McGill University. “Other schools are in the queue to launch the course, but these three universities have really taken the lead on this initiative. I’m pleased with the results of this collaboration.”

Not only did the CUCCIO schools work together to help refine the course, they also were able to realize savings by negotiating a special rate for member schools.

“I believe this course is a great first step for Canadian universities,” says Steven Cohen, president of Sentry Metrics. “We’re seeing companies in nearly every business sector adopt new approaches such as this online course when it comes to helping improve IT security awareness.

“By making the course available to the entire campus, these leading Universities are helping to raise awareness to counter the increasing information security threats that exist.”

For more information, contact:

University of New Brunswick
David Shipley
Enterprise Strategy Analyst
Information Technology Services

Memorial University of Newfoundland
Ken Forward
IT Security Officer
Computing & Communications

Sentry Metrics
Steven Cohen

Thompson Rivers University
Hugh Burley
ITS – Senior Technology Coordinator
Information Security Officer