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UNB computer science granted over 4 million in funding

Author: Communications

Posted on Jun 24, 2014

Category: myUNB , UNB Fredericton , UNB Homepage , UNB Saint John

The University of New Brunswick’s faculty of computer science successfully secured over $4 million in funding for research and development projects this month. Earlier in June, Dr. Natalia Stakhanova received the New Brunswick Innovation Research Chair in Cyber Security, valued at $1.175 million. The same week, the faculty of computer science’s Information Security Centre of Excellence and IBM Security Division signed a collaborative research agreement for a research and development project in the area of information and network security. The project, valued over $3 million, will be funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) through the Atlantic Innovation Foundation (AIF) program, IBM Security Division the UNB faculty of computer science and the UNB Information Security Centre of Excellence (ISCX).

The New Brunswick Innovation Research Chair in Cyber Security 2014-2019

Despite enormous achievements in computing, recent cyber security breaches, such as the Heart Bleed Bug, which paralyzed the Canada Revenue Agency for several days, demonstrated that no organization, regardless of size, power or wealth is immune to cyber security threats. In an era when governments, organizations and businesses turn to cloud computing and start integrating their processes and services online, cyber security becomes a pressing priority. The digital age may be a period of progress, but it has its own set of problems and weaknesses.

Dr. Natalia Stakhanova was awarded the NB Innovation Research Chair in Cyber Security, valued at $1,175,000 over five years. She will lead the research and development of novel detection and response technologies for current, trending and anticipated cyber security threats.

“The University of New Brunswick, and in particular the faculty of computer science, are well positioned to take a leadership role in the cyber security domain,” explains Dr. Stakhanova. “Over the past years the faculty of computer science accumulated a unique expertise in the area of cyber security, which allowed us to successfully commercialize research results of several academic projects. I am thinking here of AraLabs, for example.”

When commercialized, Dr. Stakhanova’s work is expected to significantly reduce the cyber security threat response costs of governments and industry. Since revenues generated through cyber security threat detection and mitigation services are expected to grow by 30 per cent over the next five years, her research results are expected to provide increased opportunities for the province’s IT services sector as well.

“As the Chair, I plan to capitalize on the successful experience of the Faculty of Computer Science and the regional industrial expertise to strengthen the local ICT sector and produce a pool of highly skilled and entrepreneurial talent with hands-on experience in cyber security,” says Dr. Stakhanova.

IBM Collaborative Research Agreement

With modern society's dependence on operationally-critical infrastructure, it is a vital to ensure that all aspects of security behind these systems are reliable and dependable. The recent widespread growth of operationally-critical systems, in terms of their complexity, heterogeneity and intelligence has exposed a large number of system vulnerabilities. Such rapid evolution of systems has resulted in unprecedented increases in the number of system threats, ranging from organizational breaches to network vulnerabilities. Surveys suggest an estimated annual burden of up to $1.7 trillion as a result of security violations in various dimensions of infrastructure systems. With the magnitude of this problem, issues related to security were brought to the forefront of enterprise and government concerns and forced experts to search for comprehensive and intelligent solutions for systems’ security assessment.

The Information Security Centre of Excellence in the faculty of computer science signed a collaborative research agreement with the IBM Security Division to address this gap and develop an intelligent toolset for automated security analysis and risk management for large scale production systems. This project will strive to cater required models, techniques and instruments to ensure the necessary level of safety and security in operationally critical software, hardware and firmware infrastructure systems. 

The proposed technology will be developed in the next four years in the Information Security Centre of Excellence, with Dr. Ali Ghorbani as the principal investigator of the project.

Computer science at UNB

Founded in 1968, UNB is home to the first faculty of computer science in Canada which remains the leader in computing education and research in Atlantic Canada. The faculty now boasts three undergraduate programs, a master’s and PhD program.

To arrange a media interview, please contact Natasha Ashfield.