Cybersecurity for higher education

Ontario Cybersecurity Higher Education Consortium (ON-CHEC) provides cost-effective cybersecurity guidance, programs, and services to meet the needs of ORION’s community. This is achieved through engaging with our community to understand their needs as well as through enabling and supporting national community cybersecurity programs.

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
  • Through a tiered approach, it allows 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


In April 2017, ORION developed a shared Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) pilot to support five constituent universities and three constituent colleges. The initiative provided its members with cybersecurity expertise, while bringing tangible security guidelines for compliance, risk management, a governance framework, and a roadmap of broader shared IT security services.

As a result of recommendations from the community and the outcome of the two-year shared CISO pilot, ORION has launched the Ontario Cybersecurity Higher Education Consortium (ON-CHEC). 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.

Challenges to our community (based on the input of pilot participants)

  • Lack of available cybersecurity talent
  • Skyrocketing cybersecurity salaries
  • Limited operating budgets
  • Organizational challenges
  • Existing security team caught up in day-to-day issues
  • Retention of cybersecurity talent

ON-CHEC guiding principle

ON-CHEC has been developed to address these challenges and raise the cybersecurity posture of Ontario’s research and education community.

OfferingHigher Education Support
Expert Security AdviceTrusted communication on critical cybersecurity issues 
Expert speakers – on specific topics (e.g. CSC, CanCyber, Shared SOC operators, omni SOC) 
Advice on security strategy and program management 
Workshops for the executive management and board on security governance 
Cybersecurity digests 
Security guidelines Access to sample ORION developed frameworks 
Workshops and roundtable discussion on various guidelines 
Security self-assessment Kick-off and scoping workshops for self-assessment 
Facilitation workshops on fieldwork and collection of responses 
Compilation of self-assessment responses and reporting 
Benchmarking and comparison of self-assessment scores 
Advice and guidance on security road map and program Assessment of the security program and roadmap against best practices and alignment with organizational objectives 
Advice on the adequacy of resources for key activities of the security roadmap 

If you have questions about ORION cybersecurity services, or how to join the ORION Network, please contact:

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