Evolving Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Ontario

Supporting staff, faculty, researchers and students to play an active role in cybersecurity continues to be a top concern across the ORION community. In 2020, we introduced a one-year ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training pilot program to help ORION constituents improve their cybersecurity culture through staff and faculty training. Over the past year, thanks to valuable input and collaboration from the community and our partners, we’ve been able to grow the program and set a course for continuous evolution providing effective cyber awareness training for Ontario’s research, education and innovation sector.

ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training Advisory

During the pilot year, ORION worked with seven Ontario higher education institutions to implement Cybersecurity Awareness Training. Working with these institutions, we saw opportunities to work more closely with the community to drive improvements for the ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Program. Inspiring the launch of the ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training Advisory (OCATA). 

OCATA brings together colleges and universities from across Ontario to inform and advance the ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program and the CIRA Cybersecurity Awareness Training platform. The advisory includes institutions that have implemented the ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training program as well as those that do not. Our program partner, CIRA and the platform developer, Beauceron Security are also actively involved in the advisory. The core objective is to identify cybersecurity awareness training that is most needed to support higher education in Ontario.

OCATA Sessions and Outcomes

The first OCATA session was held in June 2021. Seven Ontario colleges and universities, together with ORION, CIRA and Beauceron identified the three highest priority user group categories that would most benefit from targeted cyber awareness training: financial services, leadership and executives, as well as faculty, including grad students. Based on these three priority user groups, participants identified specific risks and recommended areas of focus for additional courses and support. 

Drawing on this valuable information, ORION, CIRA and Beauceron collaborated to create custom workflows in the training platform that will provide tailored training for the top three high-risk user groups. We developed a video script for top leaders to produce an introduction video that can be uploaded to the platform. In October, ORION, CIRA and Beauceron also hosted a Cybersecurity Awareness Month webinar to further address the challenges identified in the first OCATA session. 

ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Pilot Outcomes

The first year of the pilot wrapped up in October 2021. During that time, we supported nine Ontario colleges and universities to implement the program. Through the pilot and the advisory, ORION helped to drive the vision and future development of the ORION Cybersecurity Awareness program, based on real-life use cases and scenarios. As cyber awareness training becomes more necessary for cyber insurance, we know it will continue to be a priority for all institutions and will continue to enhance the program in collaboration with the ORION community to meet evolving cybersecurity awareness needs. 

What’s Next for ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training

ORION will continue to collaborate with the community and our partners to lead best practices for cyber awareness training and phishing simulations. We will continue to grow the ORION Cybersecurity Training Advisory to include more institutions including K-12, research, and health care organizations. We will continue working with Beauceron and CIRA to review and streamline processes to improve the constituent experience and respond to the community’s growing need for training and phishing simulations.

 The ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training program has proven to be a cost-effective and valuable tool in our cybersecurity program at the University of Guelph. Since joining the program in 2021, we have found the platform easy to set up and manage, simple for students to use and take training modules, and support for the solution has been very helpful and responsive. We are now exploring ways to further utilize the platform and integrate it into our overall awareness training program.

— Stephen Willem, CISO, University of Guelph