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University of New Brunswick and Mastercard announce $1.75 million in funding to advance IoT cybersecurity research and training in Canada

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Apr 11, 2022

Category: UNB Fredericton

The University of New Brunswick and Mastercard have announced a partnership to advance cybersecurity research and training opportunities in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector.

An investment of $1.75 million by Mastercard, announced on April 11, will help advance UNB’s Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity (CIC) research and learning opportunities through sponsorship of UNB’s IoT laboratory, establishing a cybersecurity research chair specializing in IoT security and supporting students through scholarships.

“We are very fortunate that through this new relationship with Mastercard, UNB’s extensive cybersecurity expertise will become part of a new network of knowledge working to make digital commerce safer for Canadians,” said Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, president and vice-chancellor of UNB. “At UNB, we understand how real applications and innovations can change the world. This ideal is at the heart of what UNB is all about and we achieve it through research, partnerships and education. Today’s generous announcement reflects that vision and recognizes the critical and global importance of cybersecurity.”

A leading centre in Canada, the CIC is home to significant cybersecurity expertise, including a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and the NB Power Cybersecurity Research Chair. Across UNB, many cybersecurity-oriented researchers work to identify new threats and defenses, support public and private partners in securing their organizations and make the world safer.

As part of this funding, UNB researcher Dr. Rongxing Lu was named as the new Mastercard IoT chair. Dr. Lu is an associate professor of computer science and joined UNB in 2016. He has completed two PhDs, one from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, in 2006 and a second from the University of Waterloo in 2012. Among other accolades, Dr. Lu was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2021.

“It is a great privilege to work with Mastercard on building safer and more trustable financial environments,” said Dr. Lu. “I look forward to developing new, practical security and privacy-enhancing techniques and to solving real-world challenges in the IoT-Big Data ecosystem.”

Every day, devices ranging from fitness trackers to lightbulbs and electrical grid controls are being connected to the Internet. While connecting devices drives convenience and big data generation, it also increases the risk of cybersecurity exposure and attacks. Issues including sensitive data breaches, ransomware and disabling of critical infrastructure are becoming increasingly commonplace, and we rely on cybersecurity expertise and infrastructure to ensure we can use connected technology in a safe and secure manner.

The financial and privacy implications of these risks have led Mastercard to invest in looking for the solutions needed today, and the experts and infrastructure we will need tomorrow.

“The pandemic era has advanced the shift to digital and as a result, attacks continue to grow in sophistication. As these trends accelerate, creating a safe and secure environment that users trust is essential,” said Sasha Krstic, president of Mastercard in Canada. “Part of our commitment at Mastercard to advancing innovation in the cybersecurity space means sharing expertise through partnerships, like UNB, defining standards and specifications and playing a leading role in securing the landscape.

With a research model anchored in organizational memberships, the CIC has developed extensive experience in responding to industry needs through collaborative partnerships. Dr. Ali Ghorbani, Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity and director of the CIC, welcomed this new relationship with Mastercard.

“This investment by Mastercard addresses the core cybersecurity challenges we face as a society: the need for innovative tactics and technology to defend against malicious attacks, and for trained people to keep our online activities and transactions secure,” said Dr. Ghorbani. “We are very pleased to be working with Mastercard on this initiative which will help ensure that this current digital transformation can happen safely.”

Through its contribution to UNB, Mastercard is building on its commitment to supporting Canadian innovation and technology talent. This partnership with UNB is the latest in a series of cybersecurity-related investments Mastercard has made in Canada, which includes a $510M investment in its global Intelligence and Cyber Centre of Excellence in Vancouver. The centre is focused on accelerating innovation in digital and cyber security, data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, providing job opportunities for new talent that Mastercard is currently recruiting.

The IoT laboratory at the CIC also received financial support from the Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. That funding provided for specialized training infrastructure, supporting students’ advancement as the highly qualified experts of tomorrow’s workforce.

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

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Photo: Dr. Rongxing Lu, UNB researcher and new Mastercard IoT chair. Credit: Chad Ingraham/UNB.