Cybersecurity creating a new career path

New continuing education certificates being offered in partnership with York University

Cybersecurity professionals working on a project.

In our daily lives, technology is everywhere. But everything that can be controlled online - from social media accounts to bank accounts, municipal water systems to the front doors to our homes, voting machines to medical records - is vulnerable to data breaches.

Preparing students to patrol these increasingly complex digital environments is the focus of two new cyber security certificates Mount Royal University is offering in partnership with York University's School of Continuing Studies.

"Cyber risks are all around us, with numerous attacks occurring against Canadian businesses and individuals. These online capabilities woven into our daily lives all depend on the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data. Threat actors attack these fundamental capabilities to disrupt our ability to access, consume or trust such data," says Ed Dubrovsky, an instructor in the cyber security program. "This has a real cost as it can impact the smallest decisions we make to the major decisions governments make. Cyber security aims to protect systems and data and, in turn, our current way of life."

Starting in September, Mount Royal's Faculty of Continuing Education will offer a Certificate in Cyber Security Fundamentals and a Certificate in Advanced Cyber Security. The fundamentals certificate provides critical knowledge and skills for existing IT managers or project leads, as well as those seeking to start or change careers. Students who aspire to become specialists can then continue on to the advanced certificate, which prepares them to earn the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation through the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium. The certificates each take five months to complete, with a combination of online and in-class components.

Students will also develop the critical, cross-functional skills and knowledge that employers value most. This includes ethical responsibility and enhancing skills in problem-solving and verbal communication.


"As Calgary works to reposition itself economically, we need to anticipate professional development opportunities that align with where the community is going. The cybersecurity program does just that."

Brad Mahon, Dean, Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension


As Canada is facing a serious shortage of cybersecurity professionals, there has been a huge demand for the program since it was introduced in 2015, says Christine Brooks-Cappadocia, director, Continuing Professional Education, School of Continuing Studies at York University.

"This program is a way to upskill people quickly to meet this growing market, but in a very comprehensive way. The number of roles in cybersecurity is expected to double in the next five years, but the talent pool has not kept up as this industry continues to be more and more important," Brooks-Cappadocia says. "Students are being recruited right out of the program."

Until now, Albertans have had to travel to Toronto for the in-person portion of the certificates. (Each requires three weekend sessions.) Brooks-Cappadocia says there have been Calgarians in every offering to date, making for an expensive commute. Offering this in-demand program much closer to home is part of Mount Royal's commitment to the community, says Brad Mahon, dean, Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.

"We're proud to be at the forefront of this exciting programming in partnership with York. These certificates really fit with Calgary's push to position itself as a technology hub," Mahon says. "As Calgary works to reposition itself economically, we need to anticipate professional development opportunities that align with where the community is going. The cybersecurity program does just that."

The courses follow the eight domains of the CISSP designation, an information systems security certification developed by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)². Completing both certificates prepares students to take the examination to earn the CISSP designation. The certificates are scheduled to align with exam dates to allow graduates the opportunity to write the exam while the course material is still fresh in their minds.

Hands-on and case-based learning are at the heart of the program, which is taught by working cyber professionals. The program also introduces students to industry influencers and speakers, allowing them to build their networks. Dubrovsky - managing partner, COO of Cytelligence, an international cyber security boutique specializing in cyber breach response and investigations as well as digital forensics - points out that while the industry is dynamic, "the fundamentals are the most ignored and yet more important" component of cyber security.

"Knowledge is power, a must and a shield. Cyber crime affects anyone and everyone. By taking this program, you are undertaking a difficult, but very rewarding journey to take your career and yourself to the next level," Dubrovsky says. "Understanding cybersecurity and its fundamentals improves yourself as an individual, an employee or an entrepreneur."

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June 12, 2019 — Ruth Myles

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