Because of the very nature of how post-secondary institutions share information and because of their diverse and mobile population, post-secondary institutions are environments that are conducive to cybersecurity incidents and prime targets for cybercriminals. In fact, hackers are constantly looking for opportunities to access the networks of post-secondary institutions to steal intellectual property, personal information, identities, or to divert funds and extort ransoms by locking data. In recent years, we have seen a marked increase in phishing attacks, ransomware, spyware, attacks on the image of institutions, attacks on web applications, intrusion to steal research data, and inappropriate use of privileged information.
These attacks are becoming increasingly organized and sophisticated and require an ongoing effort on the part of institutions to improve their cybersecurity, minimize risks, and stay abreast of developments and knowledge of cybersecurity.
The institutions that belong to the N.B. and P.E.I. Educational Computer Network have made cybersecurity a strategic issue in recent years around which a great collaboration and several projects have developed. These initiatives began several years ago with the sharing of the spam management solution and the acquisition of a workstation protection solution for our users. More recently, a joint acquisition project of next-generation firewalls has allowed institutions to take advantage of their purchasing power and also to share the technical expertise associated with the deployment and management of this equipment. We have also completed an institutional risk assessment process and network vulnerability assessments of each institution that is part of the N.B. and P.E.I. Educational Computer Network to enable everyone to improve their cybersecurity and to better understand and manage their institutional risks. In addition to individually improving our security positions, these assessments will enable us to identify new joint initiatives to increase the cybersecurity capacity of all institutions. Lastly, we have also just joined a national initiative of CANARIE to establish a cybersecurity incident management platform for all members of the N.B. and P.E.I. Educational Computer Network, on the strength of which the power of member collaboration helps to increase our protection far beyond our individual means.