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In 2003, Sheridan College was the first post-secondary institution in Canada to launch a degree program in cybersecurity.SUPPLIED

It’s the email from a “friend” that says, “I thought of you,” beside a link – from an email address that doesn’t look right. For businesses, it might be an invoice that’s already been paid, with slightly different payment instructions.

These irritations are regular reminders that cybersecurity is a moving target, and the cost of not getting it right can be astronomical. In 2018, Risk Based Security in the U.S. reported that Canada was third on its list of countries most impacted by cybercrime, with 48 privacy breaches and 12.5 million records exposed. Another study by Symantec revealed that, after a breach, 49 per cent of businesses lost customers and 43 per cent reported damage to their brand; 41 per cent had increased expenses and 37 per cent lost revenue.

Digital transactions dominate the globalized economy, making security a key competitive factor and the job prospects for cybersecurity professionals compelling. In 2003, Sheridan College was the first post-secondary institution in Canada to launch a degree program in cybersecurity. For graduates, the CICan National Award of Excellence winning program provides an entryway into a field on which the future success of business and security of Canadians depends.

Organized international crime has become the largest player in online fraud, meaning that companies are up against powerful and well-resourced organizations when it comes to securing their data and guarding against financial fraud.

“The profit motive has spurred a lot more research and design on the part of the bad guys, so organizations struggle to keep up if they can’t find the right people,” says Nicholas Johnston, a professor and program co-ordinator at Sheridan’s School of Applied Computing. Sheridan students learn the many ways that businesses might be attacked as well as policy, legislation, regulation and standards, and technique. The four-year honours degree in information systems and information security includes an eight-month paid internship in the security field, and also provides a means for graduates to continue to update their skills.

“We are very proud of everything our graduates and alumni have achieved, from speaking at conferences to organizing lessons for young people in high school to engaging with business at the highest levels,” says Prof. Johnston.

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