Cybersecurity in full swing

This text is part of the special section Higher Education

Telecommuting, online services, artificial intelligence, data protection, risks of cyberattacks… The place taken by technological tools in our lives is significant, and comes with its share of new challenges. While Gatineau wants to position itself as a leader in cybersecurity and the field is booming in the region, the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) is offering two new cybersecurity training courses this fall, as well as a DESS in data sciences and artificial intelligence from next winter, in order to meet the great needs.

“The pandemic has highlighted the needs in cybersecurity, because the number of attacks has exploded, argues Professor Kamel Adi, from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UQO. With teleworking, the attack surface has become much larger. But there is a shortage of manpower everywhere and training is more than necessary, because the demand will only increase in the coming years. And this observation is global, he adds.

“A cybersecurity cluster is currently developing in Gatineau, and there is a great regional desire to position itself in the field,” continues Mr. Adi, referring to the cybersecurity innovation zone, called Connexité, which the region. Gatineau has also submitted its application to the Ministry of Economy and Innovation to be officially designated as an innovation zone in this area in Quebec.

As UQO is one of the key players in this future area of ​​innovation, and also very active in the field for more than 30 years through its computer security research laboratory, it was only natural to improve its training. “After surveying the socio-economic environment, the UQO found that the offer was insufficient to meet the needs,” says the professor.

Two new certificates in cybersecurity are offered at UQO for the first time in this fall semester, namely the certificate in governance and cybersecurity as well as the certificate in computer networks and cybersecurity. These two training courses are part of the predefined list of cumulative bachelor’s programs in digital innovation.

“No less than 13 new courses have been developed specifically within the framework of these two new certificates, underlines Mr. Adi, who participated in the development of these new programs. I think that [la formation qu’on offre], very technical and solid, is unique in Quebec. »

A DESS in data science and artificial intelligence has also been added to the establishment’s training offer. The first cohort will begin in the winter 2023 semester.

From technology to governance

the certificate in governance and cybersecurity focuses on the management of organizational and human challenges and issues related to cybersecurity. “It wants to meet management needs around cybersecurity, with a decision-making objective to prevent incidents or react to them,” explains Mohand Said Allili, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the UQO, also involved in the creation of new training courses in the department.

This certificate will notably enable graduates to understand the laws relating to the protection of personal data and information security, and to ensure compliance with them. “This certificate aims to bring together the technical point of view and governance so that those who are in management understand the issues in a technical way without being technicians, in order to properly estimate the risks on a continuity plan”, argues Professor Kamel. Adi.

The question of communication in the event of an incident is also on the agenda. “If a company is attacked, for example a bank, and it communicates poorly, the impact of the incident will be amplified and customers will flee”, illustrates Mr. Adi.

According to UQO, this training will enable graduates to perform the roles of risk analyst, personal information protection officer, project manager specializing in cybersecurity, communication advisor specializing in cybersecurity or planner. disaster recovery.

the certificate in computer networks and cybersecurity, complementary to the first, is for its part more technical. “It allows graduates to know how to protect and monitor networks from cyber threats,” explains Kamel Adi.

Research, analysis of information, preparation of reports and plans for problem solving are notably under study. Graduates can then work as network support specialists, network security operators, systems or security administrators, or even cybersecurity analysts.

Data science and AI

New DESS in data science and artificial intelligence will offer in-depth training in the two designated areas, which are also currently experiencing strong turmoil. “We are creating more and more data and we have a huge need to exploit it, but also to automate processes,” says Mohand Said Allili.

Upon completion of this program, students will have knowledge of the potential of data science and artificial intelligence techniques that will enable them to use them to solve problems. An internship or a trial activity in a company or in a research environment is planned to allow students to apply what they have learned to a particular project. This DESS aims to prepare graduates for careers as data science specialists, data analysts or engineers, machine learning specialists or data science and artificial intelligence advisors.

In addition to responding directly to local needs, these new programs could also forge more ties between Quebec and the world.

« The DESS program in data science and artificial intelligence, as well as a future DESS program in cybersecurity [sur lequel nous travaillons en ce moment] will be levers to attract international students, in particular through agreements between UQO and French-speaking universities in France and North Africa , enthuses Professor Allili. There is currently an agreement between UQO and the 3IL school in France. »

Other training is on the drawing board at UQO, both in cybersecurity and in AI. They will be announced and offered over the next few years.

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Cybersecurity in full swing


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