A message from Alfonso Licata ORION President & CEO
We collaborated with our community to identify three strategic themes that inform our four-year strategy. ORION is focusing on these themes to support the research, education, and innovation community in Ontario.
Creating a Culture of Purpose and Connection
Our commitment to transparency, equity and engagement enables an intentional balance between collaboration, inclusivity, operational excellence, and focus.
Sustaining and Advancing a World Class Research and Education Network
ORION sustains and constantly advances the province’s shared essential research, education, and innovation platform. We protect its value and performance, driven by world-class standards and an ambition for equitable access.
Building Trusted Community Partnerships
ORION connects Ontario’s research, education and innovation ecosystem through trusted, relevant community partnerships. We lead transparent, focused conversations to unify our voices for shared digital infrastructure.
As we embark on a new chapter, we find ourselves reflecting on our remarkable achievements over the past five years. We are proud of our journey, and we are excited to build an even brighter future with our community.
Now let’s take a look at what we achieved for each strategic theme in 2022.
Theme Two: Sustaining and Advancing a World Class Research Education Network
Strengthening and Expanding ORION’s Platform
ORION Upgrades Network to Better Support Our Community
We continue to support the evolving needs of researchers, educators and innovators in Ontario. ORION partnered with CANARIE to invest in upgrades to our network for greater reliability, increased capacity, and better security. We also upgraded our routers in many locations outside of southern urban areas. We are committed to improving the overall reliability of our network and providing higher network speeds in the future.
Last year, we submitted three Expression of Interest (EOI) proposals to CANARIE that have been accepted. We will use the funding to make performance improvements across our network to increase connectivity. By enhancing our platform, we enable our community to accelerate new discoveries.
Evolving and Strengthening Cybersecurity for the Community
ORION Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT)
With cyber threats on the rise, organizations have a constant need to identify vulnerabilities and secure their infrastructure. Using the lessons learned from our pilot, we developed ORION Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) to help our community avoid costly and time-consuming data breaches. VAPT will provide organizations with a comprehensive assessment of security vulnerabilities and increase their capacity to protect themselves.
Cybersecurity Initiatives Program (CIP) and National Cybersecurity Assessment (NCA)
In response to the need identified by Canada’s research and education community for national coordination and alignment of cybersecurity efforts, the Government of Canada funds CANARIE to invest in initiatives. This helps strengthen the sector with advanced technologies, improved processes, and broadened expertise. These initiatives are delivered to eligible organizations through provincial and territorial partners in Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN).
ORION helped to promote the National Cybersecurity Assessment (NCA) and encourage institutions to sign up. The NCA uses the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework to allow organizations to evaluate their cybersecurity capabilities. The assessment supports teams in making informed decisions on investments that improve their security.
ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training
ORION Cybersecurity Awareness Training provides training and phishing simulations to emphasize that everyone plays a role in protecting against cyber threats. We have added new content tailored for higher education. We also introduced new monthly check-ins, scorecards, and quarterly admin training refreshers. As of today, we have more than 60,000 students, staff, and faculty and over 10 active constituents on the platform. Our team will continue to enhance the user experience.
Theme Three: Building and Sustaining Trusted Community Partnerships
ORION Cybersecurity Programs and Partnerships
ORION Shared SIEM
From conversations with our community, we heard that a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool will help higher education institutions detect and protect against cyber threats. We are excited to have completed the ORION Shared SIEM pilot. This will help organizations identify threats faster, so they can focus on protecting themselves.
Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre (CanSSOC)
ORION continues to participate in a committee with CANARIE and other NREN partners to further define the concept of a federated Security Operations Centre (SOC) that will meet the needs of our connected higher education institutions. The Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre (CanSSOC) was created on the principle that no single institution can tackle cybersecurity challenges alone. It will leverage existing investments and technologies such as ORION’s SOC-as-a-service.
ORION Community Training
ORION Community Training offers courses and professional development opportunities for our constituents. Last year, we offered Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP), and Incident Commander Training. These courses support Ontario’s research, education and innovation community to advance cybersecurity skills and gain certifications. Collaboration and customization are at the heart of ORION’s Community Training program. As such, we plan to offer additional courses and workshops in 2023 with the needs of our community in mind.
ORION Connectivity Services and Partnerships
ORION and GTAnet Amalgamation
We supported the amalgamation with GTAnet, joining forces to serve our communities better. In doing so, ORION will sustain a network that is more robust and responsive. We recognized that by pooling our resources and expertise, we can increase our impact and ability to make a difference. ORION will continue to explore opportunities for further collaboration and innovation.
Cyber Security Risk Management Seminar for Higher Education
The Cyber Security Centre of Excellence hosted a Cyber Security Risk Management Seminar in partnership with ORION and Toronto Metropolitan University’s Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst. One seminar was for higher education executives and board members that focused on real-world threats and how these can be managed on an ongoing basis. Some takeaways included the impacts of increasing dependence on digital technologies, key gaps within the higher education sector, the value of tabletop exercises, and more. Another seminar was intended for IT professionals that had immersive exercises in small breakout rooms. The sessions explored cybersecurity best practices, the incident response lifecycle, and other topics.
ORION Pricing Modernization
ORION has reviewed our legacy pricing model, which was created in 2009. We created a pricing committee, learning from our NREN partners and listening to our community. We developed a pricing model and an approach informed by our constituents that focused on ensuring equity, transparency, and fairness. In the past year, we worked on introducing a new pricing model for the fiscal year starting in April 2023. We hosted webinars to discuss how the new tiered pricing structure has been designed to adapt and respond to ongoing growth in a sustainable way.