12:51 PM


Cyber Security Lab will train online guardians in the battle against internet attacks

The question was how to build a platform  to educate the next generation of cyber professionals and the answer is Mohawk College’s Cyber Security Testing Lab.

There, teams of students in blue teams and red teams will plan, launch, thwart and defend, in real time, cyber-attack simulations that will teach how to prevent, detect, predict and respond to threats against computer systems, networks and data.

The Cyber Lab will provide cutting-edge experiential learning opportunities to students in Mohawk’s new Cyber Security Program, which is an eight-month post-graduate certificate launching this fall. It will also be used extensively by students in existing technology programs such as the Network Engineering and Security Analyst advanced diploma program and other programs from Continuing Education. This lab adds to Mohawk’s strong collection of labs including Networking labs and will provide a major competitive advantage for our students and programs.

The lab, which officially launches in the fall, will also deliver customized training for industry partners, along with the opportunity to test cyber security plans and protocols, and debrief after a simulation.

“There is nothing like being in a room and acting and reacting in real time,” said Tracy Dallaire, Senior Director Technology Integration Academic at Mohawk.

The cyber lab will also help industry partners determine the right architecture, investment and strategies to mitigate their risk, she says.

“Our lab will allow them to test their environments in a low-risk way, while our students get experiential learning.”

The lab will teach future cyber professionals the triage skills necessary to set priorities, the forensic skills to find out what went wrong in a cyber incident, along with the communication skills needed to effectively advise stakeholders in a crisis, says Dallaire.

Cycura Inc., worked with Mohawk to guide and shape the vision and architecture for the new lab, which is located in The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation.

“We are an offensive security research and development company,” said Managing Director Iain Paterson. “We specialize in helping people understand where attacks can happen, where their vulnerabilities are, and then fixing them.”

Mohawk consulted with cyber security experts in many fields, including the defence and nuclear industries, to ensure everything about the program and lab aligns with industry needs.

The global skills shortage in the cyber field is estimated at 1.5 million people, says Paterson, and it continues to grow. There are about 20 professions in the field and that’s growing, too.

“It’s very astute of Mohawk to be building this program at this time. Attackers evolve, threats evolve. The industry needs people with fresh skills and perspectives to build the next level of defensive capabilities.”

The cyber lab has an “air-gapped network” and an internet pipeline that is entirely separate from that of the College. It features a range of industry-leading software platforms including IBM's QRadar Security Incident and Event Monitoring System

(SIEM) and Cymmetria Maze Runner – a deception platform that builds attack and defend scenarios.

“We are doing something so new that there is no playbook. This is a cyber lab that is scalable and robust,” said Dallaire.

The lab will be used to instruct undergraduate students, along with those in Continuing Education and the broader business community through Mohawk College Enterprise.

Faculty from across the College are invited to work with the lab staff to build its assets and resources into course curriculum.

“Our job now is to communicate to other programs how this rich resource can be used.”