Press Releases

ORION launches Ontario consortium to improve cybersecurity for research and education

TORONTO, June 10, 2019 – ORION, Ontario’s only provincial research and education network, announced the launch of its much-anticipated Ontario Cybersecurity Higher Education Consortium (ON-CHEC) today. This is designed to improve cybersecurity awareness and develop a strategy to manage cybersecurity risks within Ontario’s higher education sector.

As many universities and colleges have limited resources to combat relentless cyber threats, ORION is leading a collaborative approach to address them and other challenges in the area of security and privacy. The consortium offers cost-effective cybersecurity guidance, programs, and a framework to meet the needs of ORION’s community.

Key Benefits for Higher Education:

  • Provides a benchmark to assess members’ state of cyber readiness
  • Strengthens the sector’s collective cybersecurity posture, bolstering opportunities for collaboration
  • Enhances cybersecurity teams through expert guidance, shared frameworks, as well as knowledge management and continuity
  • Shares cybersecurity trends and updates on the threat landscape and best practices, ensuring members always have the latest information for their sector
  • Provides a scaled approach, allowing even those with smaller budgets to participate and contribute to a successful security program
  • Members are active participants, leveraging the expertise of the group to solve cybersecurity challenges together, while building much-needed skills within member organizations

The initiative is the result of recommendations from the community and the outcome of a successful two-year shared Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) pilot. This comes at a critical time in the academic arena when many of Ontario’s universities and colleges are challenged to address security risks for several reasons. IT budgets are strapped and provincial government funding is more limited than ever before, all as cyber threats are evolving at an ever-faster pace.

Read more about ON-CHEC programs and services at

Quick Facts:

  • In April 2017, ORION launched a shared CISO pilot in response to requests from their community. It was supported by ORION, five of their constituent universities, and three colleges. The initiative provided its members with cybersecurity expertise, while bringing tangible security guidelines for compliance, risk management, a governance framework, as well as roadmap of broader shared IT security services.
  • ORION’s private network spans 6,000 kilometres connecting over a hundred research, education and innovation institutions across the province from Thunder Bay to Timmins and Ottawa to Windsor at speeds of up to 100Gbps.
  • More than two million people in the research and education industry rely on ORION to share and communicate with each other and to connect to a global grid of similar networks across Canada and around the world.
  • ORION is part of Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN), an essential collective of infrastructure, tools, and people that bolsters Canadian leadership in research, education and innovation. CANARIE and twelve provincial and territorial partners form Canada’s NREN. We connect Canada’s researchers, educators, and innovators to each other and to data, technology and colleagues around the world.
  • Research-related activities on the ORION network directly contribute $4.4 billion to Ontario’s GDP.


  • Alfonso Licata, CEO and president, ORION: “ORION is committed to helping our community strengthen its cybersecurity posture, efficiently, without leaving anyone behind. We built this consortium to ensure Ontario’s research and education sector has the support they need to do the important work they do in building economic prosperity in the province.”
  • Scott Briggs, Chief Information Officer, Humber College: “Humber College is a global leader in polytechnic education and one of Canada’s largest postsecondary institutions. As Humber serves more than 33,000 full-time students and 23,000 part-time learners across six academic Faculties, the ability to securely connect to virtual systems and manage personal and proprietary data is essential in promoting a safe and supportive higher learning environment. In partnering with ORION and joining this consortium, we are bolstering our ability to ensure that controls are appropriately implemented and managed to mitigate technology and cyber threats. A shared cybersecurity program supports our ability to protect the college’s digital infrastructure. ON-CHEC is changing the digital security landscape by enabling higher education institutions to effectively prepare, prevent and respond to cybersecurity breaches.”
  • Nela Petkovic, Chief Information Officer, Wilfrid Laurier University: “One of the key priorities for the ICT department is the security of our information systems, including protecting sensitive research data and student information. However, balancing this critical need with shrinking budgets for the required dedicated financial and human resources, is a challenge. The advice and support from the ON-CHEC program takes us much further than we would be able to go alone.”

About ORION:

ORION is a not-for-profit organization supporting Ontario’s progress with essential digital infrastructure. Since 2001, we’ve facilitated new discoveries by connecting research and education institutions, regions, and people across the province, enabling collaboration, learning, forging partnerships, and providing our community with the digital tools and expertise they need to make the world a better place.

Read more about ORION at| @ORIONNetwork

For inquiries about joining ON-CHEC, contact:

For media inquires, contact:

Cathy Bogaart
Director, Marketing and Communications
Office: 416.507.9860 ext. 250