12 February 2018 | by Laura Sehl

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Five Takeaways from Attending the Canadian Training Centre (CTC) Annual Conference

On January 31st I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Army Combat Training Centre’s Annual Conference (CTC), in partnership with UNB’s Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity and the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society.  This year’s conference theme, “From Radio to Smartphone: Warfare in the Information Age,” raised some interesting points surrounding cybersecurity and the changing nature of warfare. Here are my five takeaways from attending day one of the conference:

1. Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way military strategizes

IoT is changing our entire world, so it should come as no surprise that the military needs to revamp their strategies to both leverage this technology and protect themselves. Interconnectedness across devices such as sensors in planes, smart military bases, and cloud technology can help keep our military physically safe when used properly, but can also leave them open to cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

2. If we can leverage this technology, so can our adversaries

Sometimes when looking narrowly through the lens of our own successes, we can forget that we are not the only ones advancing. It is naïve to think that we are the only one progressing in cyberwarfare and cybersecurity. Just as the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) need to be able to use this technology offensively, the defensive aspect is equally important. Ensuring that the CAF can gather information from our adversaries without our adversaries infiltrating our intelligence is crucial to success in cyberwarfare.

3. Cybersecurity is a growing field globally, in Canada, and in CAF

Growing a pool of cybersecurity experts within the CAF is pivotal to ensuring future military success as more aspects of warfare move from on the ground to cyberspace. By creating jobs that are interesting and rewarding within the cybersecurity field, the CAF hopes to retain as many individuals in this field as possible. A blend of recruiting from within the CAF, and civilians with interests in cybersecurity will also ensure more individuals gain interest in a military career in cybersecurity.

4. Industry partnerships are key to advancing in cybersecurity

Industry is not homogeneous. The goal of some businesses is solely to sell, while some aim to develop the best technology in the industry. Finding industry partners who are collaborative, understanding of your needs, and have a willingness to innovate is essential. R&D can no longer just be done in-house; working with industry will play a key role in advancing the CAF in the cybersecurity landscape.

5. The Joint Operations Area (JOA) is now the world

The JOA can no longer be defined by borders. While a conflict may be based in one country, servers halfway across the globe may play a factor. There are no longer confines to conflict when technology is located across the globe. Cyberspace is a new arena for warfare. The CAF needs to be able to tackle this as it comes to play.

Attending the CTC Annual Conference was a great opportunity to gain insight into a world civilians do not normally get to see. Advances in cybersecurity must be collaborative through industry, government and the CAF to ensure Canadians continue to be protected domestically and abroad. The conference provided food for thought as we dive deeper into the information age and it will be interesting to see how the CAF continues to adapt in the years to come.

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