Research Security

Canada's global research reputation is built on open and collaborative partnerships with national and international partners in academic, government, industry and non-profit sectors.

These partnerships play a key role in research advances and addressing social and economic issues, but also require the research community to take steps to ensure that they are able to safeguard their research. 

The Government of Canada has been collaborating with research institutions across the country to help raise the awareness of potential risks to their research, and ensure that the research community is well-equipped to mitigate such risks, including the theft or misuse of knowledge and results.

More information and guidance is available on the Government of Canada's Safeguarding Your Research website, intended to equip all researchers with the information and tools to make sure that the benefits of Canadian research and development are realized by those that perform it and for the benefit of Canadians.

Government of Canada Information 

Why Safeguarding Your Research Is Important

Canada's global research reputation is such that it is an attractive target for others to appropriate this research for their own advantage or gains. This includes research that could be applied to strategic, military, or intelligence capabilities of other countries. 

Who are you at risk from?

In building a secure research environment it is important to consider the motivations of outside partners, whether members of your own team or institution could be self-motivated or pressurized by others to access or steal your research, and to acknowledge that foreign countries may target certain types of research to advance their own objectives.

What are the risks?

If third parties obtain your research, risks include:

  • the theft of research data;
  • the loss of intellectual property;
  • misuse of research or knowledge that is considered “dual use”;
  • patenting and potential revenue;
  • legal or administrative reprisal;
  • loss of potential future partnerships or access to research funding; and
  • a tarnished reputation.

Good research security and cyber hygiene practices can minimize the risk of theft and ensure that your research remains in your control (visit UBC IT Cybersecurity) It is also important to be aware of the potential commercial applications of your research (see UBC UILO) and to be aware of legal requirements such as export licence controls and working with controlled goods.

Government of Canada Information

What areas of research are most vulnerable?

Researchers should assess the risk profile of new and ongoing projects and examine their work from an economic and geopolitical standpoint to determine what mitigation strategies may be appropriate. Research with significant commercial potential, national security impacts or sensitive data with ethical or privacy concerns may be particularly vulnerable.​ The Government of Canada has highlighted specific Sensitive Technology Research Areas as being of high concern.

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