The frequency and complexity of cyber security threats facing higher education institutions are increasing at an unprecedented rate.

As a result, the associated scope and costs of successful early prevention, detection and mitigation are unsustainable by one single institution.

The Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre (CanSSOC) was developed to investigate this concern. Through a collaboration between six Canadian universities, a proof of concept to explore the feasibility of a Shared Security Operations Centre for higher education with Canada took place from February 2018 to April 2020. The POC investigated the creation of a shared service that enables greater visibility and mitigation to cyber security threats than what institutions could deliver on their own, in a cost-efficient and effective way. CanSSOC is now in a pilot phase.

Projected outcome

The outcome of the CanSSOC pilot will be a clear understanding of the best way to develop a shared national higher education SOC. CanSSOC is unique because it allows participants to explore, develop and test ways to bring together a wide range of needs, partners, technology and data to develop a robust model leveraging strengths within Canada.

Collaboration

The CanSSOC pilot is governed by a steering committee with leaders from McGill University, McMaster University, Ryerson University, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia and University of Toronto. The project is housed at the University of Toronto (U of T). It is led by Shared Operations Security Director Jill Kowalchuk. Isaac Straley of U of T is the CanSSOC Chief Information Security Officer.

The steering committee is supported by members of the Canadian National Research and Education Network (NREN) who provide insight into provincial challenges and opportunities to leverage the expertise within the NREN community.