CNL opens multi-million dollar innovation centre for cyber security

Canada’s national nuclear laboratory has opened its National Innovation Centre for Cyber Security at Knowledge Park in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The multi-million dollar research facility represents a major addition to Canada’s national cyber security capabilities, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) said.

The new centre joins a growing list of facilities and investments that are transforming the province into a cyber security research and innovation hub.

CNL, with the support of the province and Opportunities New Brunswick, also announced that it would be adding up to 24 new highly-skilled employees to work at the centre in the next five years, and will invest over $3 million in new equipment and infrastructure upgrades.

CNL has identified cyber security research as one of seven strategic initiatives the company plans to pursue as part of its long-term strategy, a 10-year plan which it said will position the organization as a leader in nuclear science and technology.

“The security of industrial control systems has become a major priority for all industries, including nuclear, and now represents a multi-billion dollar worldwide market,” Mark Lesinski, CNL’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “To ensure the integrity and security of these systems, organizations must have access to state-of-the-art facilities where they can test them in controlled environments.”

While there is a large commercial industry catering to the cyber security of business and information technology systems, the cyber security of industrial control systems has been widely overlooked, CNL said. Yet, this critical sector has shown vulnerabilities, with recent attacks on the Ukraine power grid in 2015 and 2016, a German steel mill in 2014, and the well-known Stuxnet attack in 2010.

With its proficiency in this area, it is well positioned to fill this void, and to expand its capabilities into more conventional industries, CNL said.

The new centre will provide CNL with the ability to simulate an operating facility in its entirety, then introduce almost any variable a researcher chooses. This will allow CNL to test how the security systems of entire operations respond to anything from a full scale cyber-attack, to a simple software upgrade. With this capability, CNL can help customers find vulnerabilities in their security systems before they become an issue, and without having to disrupt the operation of their facility.

“Every year, the instruments, controls and monitors that keep Canada’s most valuable energy assets running smoothly become more automated,” added Lesinski. “This transformation offers tremendous benefits to Canadians, but it also presents new risks to the country’s energy grid and other major infrastructure. CNL’s National Innovation Centre for Cyber Security can help organizations address these vulnerabilities, ensuring the critical facilities and systems that drive the Canadian economy are properly protected.”

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