The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is opening a cyber security lab and investing $1.78 million into research at the University of Waterloo to develop advanced cybersecurity and privacy tools.

Online malicious attacks and botnets have become increasingly sophisticated and targeted as people share more and more personal data online. Security teams are often working within legacy hardware systems, across international borders with varying restrictions, and need to prepare for the post-quantum threat. Researchers are poised to create new solutions beyond the current infrastructure, the current encryption systems and the current computing capabilities.

The funding will support researchers in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science and the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization at Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics.

In addition to the new RBC cybersecurity lab for the financial sector within Waterloo’s William G Davis Computer Research Centre, the funding will support research in the following areas;

  • Data-driven software defined security, led by Raouf Boutaba, will focus on detecting and mitigating security threats using machine learning and AI.
  • Privacy enhancing technologies, led by Ian Goldberg, will focus on the safety and security of consumer metadata, including identity and location.
  • Post-quantum cryptography, led by David Jao, will focus on a unique blend of pure mathematics and computer science that produces a data encryption so strong that quantum computers cannot crack it.

CryptoWorks21, an enhanced education program focused on post-quantum cryptosystems is also included in the support. Led by Waterloo’s Michele Mosca, RBC will also sponsor the CryptoWorks Industry Day, a graduate student scholarship, a thesis prize, and support for professional teaching.

“Collaborating with the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics and their pool of talented researchers will give us more brain power to continually develop Canadian talent to support the demands of the cyber security industry,” said David Fairman, Chief Information Security Officer, RBC. “This partnership is important to RBC as we’ll be able to leverage Waterloo’s unique capabilities in mathematical science as it applies to tackling increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.”

“This project provides our researchers with what they need to excel and provides RBC with access to Canada’s premiere talent in cybersecurity,” said Stephen M. Watt, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo. “The area of cybersecurity is highly technical and complex, but is essential for all aspects of modern society. These technologies, from network protection to mathematical cryptography, are central to personal privacy online, safe national infrastructure and trustworthy commerce.”

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