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Can Canada Be a Global Cybersecurity Leader?

cybersec canadian chamber of commerce
cybersec canadian chamber of commerce
Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology, and Innovation, Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Marjorie Dickman

Marjorie Dickman

Chief Government Affairs and Public Policy Officer, BlackBerry

Securing Canada’s digital infrastructure has never been more critical.


In this interview, Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia (Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology, and Innovation at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce) speaks with Marjorie Dickman (BlackBerry’s Chief Government Affairs and Public Policy Officer) about BlackBerry’s new collaboration with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on the Cyber.Right.Now. campaign, and Canada’s capability to be a world leader in cybersecurity. Bahr-Gedalia is leading the Cyber.Right.Now. initiative for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia: What are the core components of the Cyber.Right.Now. campaign, and why did BlackBerry decide to partner with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to raise cybersecurity as a key issue for the Government of Canada?

Marjorie Dickman: The Cyber.Right.Now. campaign aims to make Canada one of the most cyber-secure countries on the planet. It’s a unique initiative championed by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, BlackBerry, and more than two dozen leading technology and cybersecurity organizations including Microsoft, Cisco, AWS, General Dynamics, Innovapost, and eSentire. Together, we’re urging the government to make cybersecurity a top priority and Canada a world leader in this sector.

Canadians and businesses have become all too aware of the impacts of cyberattacks on economic and societal stability. Not surprisingly, the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 65 percent of Canadians fear falling victim to a cyberattack. (This is the second highest worry among Canadians today, only behind the fear of job loss.) A PwC report similarly indicates that 80 percent of Canadian CEOs are concerned about cybersecurity as a threat to growth. Recent cyberattacks on pipelines, water treatment facilities, hospitals, universities, and businesses underscore the need to act quickly to secure the country’s digital infrastructure, businesses, and communities from cyberattacks.

Notably, Canada boasts world-class cybersecurity capabilities, including some 400 cybersecurity companies. In fact, some of the world’s top cybersecurity companies are Canadian, and BlackBerry is proud to be one of them. The Cyber.Right.Now. campaign is urging Canada to invest in and leverage this expertise to prevent cyberattacks, grow the economy, and secure our digital future.

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BG: Becoming one of the most cyber-secure countries on the planet is an ambitious vision. How can Canada turn this vision into action?

MD: Canadian cybersecurity companies have some of the most advanced cybersecurity solutions in the world. For instance, BlackBerry’s AI-driven cybersecurity solutions can identify cybersecurity threats before they occur, in some cases even two years before the malware has been deployed. This prevention-first security helped protect our customers from recent high-profile cyberattacks, including those by DarkSide — the ransomware gang behind the Colonial Pipeline attack, Nobelium – the infamous threat group behind the SolarWinds attack, and REvil — the group behind the attacks on Kaseya, JBS, and Acer.

Canada also has world-class centres of cybersecurity innovation, including Waterloo, Fredericton, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver. And Canadian cybersecurity companies consistently rank among the top 100 R&D spenders in the country, with an R&D intensity three times higher than the ICT industry average.

Yet, Canada risks falling behind, as other countries increase their cybersecurity investments. The OECD reports that Canada is one of the few countries where technology R&D investment is “stagnant,” investing only 1.5 percent of GDP and declining, while Canada’s competitors are investing billions in advancing their cybersecurity capabilities.

Notably, Canada boasts a wealth of cybersecurity talent. But competition for this cybersecurity workforce is fierce. There are over three million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally, with more than 100,000 of these in Canada. This means Canada’s top talent is very often poached to work abroad. In fact, nearly two thirds of Canadian-educated software engineering students leave to work outside of Canada.

For Canada to be a global cybersecurity leader, the Cyber.Right.Now. campaign advocates three goals:

1. Secure critical infrastructure, businesses, and communities by investing in cybersecurity at per-capita levels comparable to its G7 peers;

2. Grow the economy by attracting and incentivizing cybersecurity innovation in Canada; and

3. Bolster Canada’s cybersecurity career opportunities by training, recruiting, and retaining the most talented and diverse workforce.

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BG: How can we ensure that these three goals are included in the federal government’s 2022 budget?

MD: Cybersecurity has never been more vital to a nation’s security — its people, government, and businesses. The Cyber.Right.Now. campaign urges Canada to invest in cybersecurity at a globally-competitive level. For example, the U.S., the U.K., and European governments are investing billions to secure their digital infrastructure and help position their economies for future growth. A focus on cybersecurity in the federal government’s 2022 budget can set Canada on a leadership path in this critical sector.


This article was made possible with support from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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