Cybersecurity: IMC2 researchers mobilize to counter insider threats
Wednesday October 18, 2023
This major cybersecurity project will be carried out in collaboration with an expert from HEC Montréal, Alina Dulipovici, professor in the Department of Information Technologies.
Montréal, October 18, 2023 – Polytechnique Montréal has just announced the creation of a major cybersecurity project aimed at blocking the biggest security vulnerability faced by organizations: insider threats. Through the Multidisciplinary Institute for Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience (Institut multidisciplinaire en cybersécurité et cyberrésilience – IMC2), experts from Polytechnique Montréal, HEC Montréal and Université de Montréal are setting out to develop a practical solution to this widespread problem.
Every employee, consultant and third party who accesses an organization's computer systems is a potential point of entry for a cyberattack or intrusion. Whether these users are malicious, negligent or simply caught off-guard, they increasingly serve as the gateway for cybercriminals. According to IBM1, events caused by insider threats more than tripled between 2016 and 2020, and the trend is unlikely to slow. The Ponemon Institute2 reports that more than half of organizations surveyed suffered at least one incident related to an internal threat in the past year. And yet, most research focuses on preventing external attacks.
A 5,4 million project
The Insider Threat Alliance Project aims to develop a sustainable solution to keep these threats at bay. It will receive $5.4 million in funding over 5 years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and MITACS, and involve researchers from the 3 participating universities.
They'll start by collecting field data to identify processes that pose a risk to organizations. This step is complex because it requires access to data sources that are sensitive for organizations and their employees.
The project team will then develop an integrated insider threat management solution that takes into account various factors, including socio-technical, economic, ethical and regulatory considerations.
The project's industrial partners include National Bank, Desjardins, Mondata, Qohash and Cybereco. Together, they will develop technical solutions to effectively identify and prevent insider threats through analysis and management. The new tools will use artificial intelligence to learn, model knowledge and apply automated reasoning.
"There are technical challenges and human issues that prevent today’s monitoring tools from being effectively implemented. We hope that by getting a better picture of users' realities, we'll be able to develop a realistic access management and supervision approach—one that organizations will adopt because it doesn't add to their members' workloads."
Given the importance of this project and its multidisciplinary nature, Polytechnique Montréal and IMC2 have announced the creation of the GEDAI Institutional Chair on the detection, analysis and automated management of internal breaches and anomalies.
"Setting up this project and chair reflects IMC2's vision and desire to leverage the complementary expertise of its members to develop practical solutions for the real world," said Marc Gervais, Executive Director of the IMC2.
Various professors will contribute to the project, including Nora Cuppens from the Department of Computer and Software Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, Alina Dulipovici from the Department of Information Technology at HEC Montréal, Benoît Dupont from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences – School of Criminology at Université de Montréal, and Amal Zouaq from the Department of Computer and Software Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal.
About Polytechnique Montréal
Established in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal is one of Canada’s largest engineering education and research universities, and is located on the Université de Montréal campus – North America’s largest Francophone university campus. With over 60,000 graduates and over 120 academic programs, Polytechnique has trained 22% of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ)’s current membership. It offers some 120 training programs. Polytechnique Montréal is also distinguished by its more than 300 talented professors and 10,000 students, Its overall annual budget is $300 million, including $100 million reserved exclusively for research.
About the Multidisciplinary Institute for Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience (IMC2)
The Multidisciplinary Institute for Cybersecurity and Cyber Resilience (Institut multidisciplinaire en cybersécurité et cyberrésilience – IMC2) provides governments, citizens and businesses in Québec and the rest of Canada with leading-edge expertise in the form of research projects, training of an emerging generation with meaningful skills, innovation and knowledge sharing, and support for public policy-making. The organization's contributors include an initial pool of some 40 professors and their research teams. IMC2 is based on a partnership between Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and HEC Montréal.
1 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report 2020, IBM Security et Institut Ponemon.
2 2022 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report, Institut Ponemon.
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