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Ontario Tech University researchers at the forefront of cybersecurity trends

Make a date to attend university’s virtual Cybersecurity 101 public lecture on November 25


From the moment computers were created, information technology (IT) security experts have engaged in a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse to ensure servers, software, data and system vulnerabilities are fully protected from attacks and exploitation.

Despite more-sophisticated coding, stronger firewalls and better encryption, IT experts work relentlessly to stay at least one step ahead of cybercriminals lurking in the computer underworld who seek to inflict damage.

In the advent of artificial intelligence, cloud storage, social media and the Internet of Things, cybersecurity stakes have never been higher. And meeting that challenge is a major component of the research portfolio at Ontario Tech University, where dedicated experts are exploring the intersection of technical, legal, social, economic and ethical implications of privacy, security and trust technologies.

“Cybersecurity issues transcend so many aspects of our daily lives, whether it’s commerce, communication or information management,” says Dr. Khalil El-Khatib, Professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology (FBIT) at Ontario Tech. “The global pandemic has driven millions of people around the world to work remotely, creating significant cybersecurity impacts on individuals and businesses. While technology continues to enable so many societal conveniences, we also need assurance that these computer systems and data assets are protected and resilient against cyber attacks.”

FBIT’s team of cybersecurity experts advances new research and teaching in this rapidly changing sector and has developed strong interdisciplinary connections with other Ontario Tech faculties.

“Ontario Tech’s collective cybersecurity thought-leadership represents a vital connection point for community outreach and for the development of new university-industry research partnerships, one of Ontario Tech’s major institutional priorities,” says Dr. El-Khatib. “This hub of knowledge asserts the university’s innovative research leadership in critical infrastructure protection, identity management, protection from social engineering, secure software systems, and password protection.”

Free virtual public lecture: Cybersecurity 101

On Wednesday, November 25 from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Ontario Tech faculty experts, in partnership with Meridian, will host a free public lecture, sharing insights to help demystify cybersecurity. Panelists will also provide valuable tips everyone can employ to better protect themselves online. The session will examine topics such as password strategies and phishing threats, providing valuable information for individuals, businesses and industry alike.

“Cyber threats come in many forms, and we’ve seen the devastating impact these attacks can have on information technology systems,” says Dr. Julie Thorpe, Associate Professor (IT Security), FBIT. “People are now very familiar with the prevalence of phishing (email fraud), malware (computer worms and viruses), ransomware and more. We need to know how to recognize the design and risks of these increasingly complex attacks.”

As one the free lecture panelists, Dr. Thorpe will explore one of the most important lines of defence for everyone: effective password strategies.

“Whether it’s email, banking or organizational memberships, most of us have multiple online accounts that require login passwords,” says Dr. Thorpe. “With so many passwords to manage, many people are experiencing ‘password-fatigue’. They may opt to create very simple passwords. Even worse, they may use the same passwords for some or even all of their accounts. This is exceptionally risky because once hackers know one password, they can easily guess many others. The onus is on us as individuals to be relentlessly careful about how we create and use passwords.”

Basic password protection strategies

  • Use a password manager tool or simply write your passwords down and store them in a secure, locked place.
  • Whenever possible, use a random password generator (available in most password manager tools).
  • Passwords should be a minimum of 12 characters and use a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Use numbers and special characters in the middle of your password, instead of only at the start or end
  • Avoid easy-to-guess patterns in your passwords such as names, dates, phone numbers, simple sequences (e.g. 123, abc).
  • Verify your existing passwords were not a part of a previous data breach. How? Use a website like to check if you are at risk.

Register today for the November 25 free public lecture

This event is presented in partnership with Meridian.

Ontario Tech University can connect you with one of our cybersecurity experts. For more information, please contact:

Bryan Oliver
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
289.928.3653 (mobile)