Cybersecurity + Remote Work

Being aware of and mitigating cybersecurity threats is critical to maintaining the integrity and security of research data and knowledge in an increasingly interconnected world. 

Cybersecurity Risks 

Canada's cyber security, in particular, witnessed a heightened level of risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity issues frequent cyber threat alerts and advisories, we recommend consulting these advisories regularly. 

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has created a short cybersecurity awareness course designed specifically for researchers. The course aims to do the following:

  • Provide participants with a cyber threat environment overview;
  • Offer advice on good cyber hygiene; and 
  • Provide resources for frontline researchers. 

UBC Advanced Research Computing (ARC) offers services related to cybersecurity and privacy for research. Among other things, ARC can provide a security consultation and help you to complete a Security Threat Risk Assessment (STRA) or System Security Plan (SSP). This Security Compliance Checklist can also help you see if your project solution is complaint with UBC requirements. 

Remote Work Risks

Heightened threat levels apply specifically to sensitive research but also more broadly to other information of interest to cyber criminals and sophisticated nation-state actors alike. The fact that a great deal of research activities are now conducted remotely can enable research that is of interest to threat actors, to be compromised.

According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, working remotely via unsecured virtual networks "can increase vulnerabilities to cyber espionage and theft of research. This is particularly true when that work involves collaboration with international partners, based in countries whose legal and regulatory regimes do not recognize principles of academic freedom and proprietary rights."

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has also noted that those working remotely can practice "good cyber hygiene when working from home, a café, or any other public location".

Many risks to data presented by working remotely can be mitigated by following a few best practices. 

See UBC IT's guide to working off campus for best practices that can help mitigate those risks.





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