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Stratford partnering with Ryerson University to begin conversation around cyber security | Stratford Beacon Herald

Cyber Security | January 2, 2020

Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson says it’s time Ontario municipalities start taking cyber security seriously.

In a first for the university and possibly a first in the province, Ryerson University’s Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst has partnered with the City of Stratford and investStratford to bring together cyber security experts and representatives from more than 50 Ontario municipalities — most from the southwest region — in Toronto on Nov. 13 to begin a discussion around cyber security and tackle the threat of cyber attack head on.

“After Stratford was hit with a cyber attack in April, Catalyst, which is a Ryerson program around cyber security, reached out to me to have a conversation,” Mathieson said. “They are trying to build a best-practices model.”

After speaking with staff at the Cybersecure Catalyst on several occasions, an opportunity to host a broader conversation with municipal leadership across the province presented itself.

“It’s an opportunity to just get local government, cyber security experts, and the province all in the same room and start having conversations around best practices, opportunities for partnerships, and really take what was a negative situation for the City of Stratford and try to turn it into a positive for us and help us in the future, and also help our other municipal partners and the government,” Mathieson said.

According to the event’s agenda, discussions will focus around identifying the cyber security risks Ontario municipal governments are facing, defending local governments against those risks, and responding to cyber attacks when they happen.

Mathieson will kick off the event by sharing the lessons learned through Stratford’s experience, which will be followed by presentations on the above topics by KPMG director of cyber security services Darren Jones, and Herjavec Group senior vice president Ira Goldstein, as well as keynote speeches by both a cyber attack navigator and a representative from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

A representative from the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services will also speak about what the province is doing to address the issue, and those in attendance will have opportunities to network and speak to their own experiences with cyber security.

“We think this is a very important topic of concern, obviously,” Cybersecure Catalyst executive director Charles Finlay said. “It’s of mounting concern for small and large municipalities and communities across the country, and we really want to bring municipalities together, have an opportunity for them to hear about the risks to municipalities, and have an opportunity to hear about some of the strategies… to mitigate those risks.

“We think it’s a really valuable moment to do this, and we’re just thrilled that Dan is partnering with us… to deliver this program.”

Both Mathieson and Finlay say the conversation can’t end with the Ryerson event. As hackers continually look for new ways to exploit municipalities, local governments and their partners must continue and expand the conversation to find new and innovative methods of fending off those threats.

“The thing now is it’s never going to go away,” Mathieson said. “(Cyber security) is going to be a continual item on every city, every community’s agenda. It’s going to become the new norm, and I think that’s something we all should think about.

“It’s just not one and done anymore.”