30 April 2018 | by Laura Sehl


Shirley McKey, Executive Director of SERENE-RISC to Speak at CyberSmart 2018

Shirley McKey, Executive Director of SERENE-RISC, has joined the line-up of prestigious speakers at the CyberSmart 2018 Summit.  SERENE-RISC is a knowledge mobilization network created to improve the general public’s awareness of cybersecurity risks. CyberNB spoke with McKey to learn what to expect from her talk at the Summit.

CyberNB: Why is it important for all Canadians, regardless of age and profession, to be aware of cybersecurity risks?

McKey: Just as the requirement to use seatbelts became the norm for saving lives more than 40 years ago, awareness of cybersecurity risks and how to avoid them through good computer hygiene will empower each and every Canadian to protect themselves online.  Prevention of data breaches can be easier, as well as less time consuming and costly than dealing with the consequences of having information, whether it is personal or financial, compromised.

Awareness, protection and prevention of cybersecurity risks begin with evidence-based knowledge.  By providing easy to understand and access, factual information to enable all Canadians to be their own gate-keepers, SERENE-RISC is promoting cybersecurity protection as a matter of knowledge and habit, and not a reaction based in fear.

CyberNB: SERENE-RISC’s goal is to improve the general public’s awareness of cybersecurity risks, what kind of initiatives does SERENE-RISC undergo to work toward this goal?

McKey: All of SERENE-RISC’s key activities work toward this goal and include, but are not limited to:

SERENE-RISC national workshops feature world-renowned experts from academia, industry, and government and enable participants to discuss hard problems in cybersecurity, exchange knowledge, learn more about current research, and more.

Knowledge Digests
Members of SERENE-RISC receive the Knowledge Digest three times a year, a newsletter summarizing relevant scientific articles and reports in cybersecurity.

Konnect: the online knowledge-sharing system
Konnect, SERENE-RISC’s online knowledge-sharing system links members and provides Network partners, co-investigators and graduate students access to hundreds of carefully curated resources, including dozens of original videos produced by SERENE-RISC.

Websites and social media
The Cybersec101 website features online training for the general public and complementary train-the-trainer resources in cybersecurity for our library and community partners. The Network also regularly publishes tips, news and information about cyber risks on its social media pages. You can follow @SERENE_RISC on Twitter and like the SERENE-RISC Facebook page.

CyberNB: As Executive Director, what role do you play in developing the network?

McKey: As Executive Director of a small, dynamic and talented team, I play many roles.  From strategy discussion, development and implementation, to building and maintaining local, national and international relationships, overseeing administration, events, reporting, and proposals, to team building, coaching and support, and other duties as required, there is no job too big, or too small!

CyberNB: SERENE-RISC offers modules through some Canadian public libraries, how have these programs been beneficial to raising awareness of cybersecurity risks?

McKey: Through collaboration with public libraries across Canada, Cybersec 101 has become the centre point for a new national network of cybersecurity educators. Cybersec 101 is a bilingual evidence-based cybersecurity training resource toolkit. The demand for the content has been high and plans are underway to extend the reach and develop the content even further by forming online discussion groups, supporting community groups who are already championing best practices in cybersecurity, working with policing organizations nationally, and designing a collaborative system to enable crowd-sourced materials development that will enable cybersecurity subject matter experts to update the training material so that it remains current and reflects the constantly evolving threat landscape.

CyberNB: SERENE-RISC also offers professional development events; can you speak to the nature and benefit of these events?

McKey: We recognize that cybersecurity is an every-discipline problem, and by engaging academic, industry and government stakeholders in the development of up and coming talent we are helping to address the talent shortage by concentrating on the required skills that employers have identified.

Most recently SERENE-RISC  has been supporting cyber challenges. Teams at the events are given the challenge to work together as they progress through the stages of first breaching a company then moving through their network. The events are great for companies looking to hire or offer internships, and often job or internship offers are made on the spot. We believe everyone benefits by bringing stakeholders together to discuss and address the common goal of developing the future generation of cybersecurity professionals.

CyberNB: We appreciate your willingness to travel to attend the CyberSmart Summit in New Brunswick! The summit theme this year is international collaboration in cybersecurity workforce development. Why do you believe international collaboration is important in developing the cybersecurity field?

McKey: Cybersecurity is a global issue and collaboration and cooperation in cybersecurity projects will enable the development and dissemination of evidence-based knowledge and encourage global solutions to issues, while potentially helping to address the recognized talent shortage in Canada. SERENE-RISC is walking the talk by engaging in several projects in collaboration with France, Scotland, England, Australia, US, and Korea.

CyberNB: What are some of the key messages you hope delegates will take away from what you will share about your work at SERENE-RISC?

McKey: Cybersecurity is a global issue that requires a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, multi-national approach to research, dissemination of information and usable solutions to address the cybersecurity issues that affect us all.  SERENE-RISC aims to be a cybersecurity information exchange that is recognized as an open, inclusive, and unbiased forum to unlock the value of knowledge on cybersecurity risks, threats and solutions for all. Our goal is to create a Network of Networks, bringing together individuals and groups with a stake in cybersecurity to work together to position Canada as an internationally recognized authority in cybersecurity.

CyberNB: What do you hope to take away from attending the CyberSmart Summit?

McKey: I am hoping to take away a renewed and expanded view of what other cybersecurity groups are working on and how we can all scale what we are doing individually through national and international cooperation and collaborations, as well as continuing to grow important partnerships with organizations like CyberNB.

CyberNB: Is there anything you would like to add about your work at SERENE-RISC?

McKey: The cybersecurity community in Canada is small, yet impressive and it is spread across the very large expanse of our great country.  One of the goals of SERENE-RISC is to close the gap from east to west and around the world through collaboration.

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