The University of Calgary is adding a new graduate program to help people with different disciplines become data scientists.
The Master in Data Science and Analytics (MDSA), which was unveiled this week, is a graduate degree program offered through a collaboration between the Faculty of Science, the Haskayne School of Business, the Cumming School of Medicine, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
According to the university, the new program is aimed at building capacity in Canada’s growing digital economy. Statistics Canada says the country’s digital economy – which itself isn’t an industry but for a sense of scale we’ll ignore that for a moment – was larger as a proportion of the total economy than mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (4.8 per cent), transportation and warehousing (4.6 per cent) and utilities (2.4 per cent) in 2015. On an annual basis, the digital economy increased more than the total economy every year except in 2011 and 2017 when Canada experienced strong growth in the energy sector.
“Realizing the changing needs in an increasingly data-driven economy in Alberta, Canada, and around the world, the new program will fill an important niche in meeting the needs of students with an interest in re-skilling and up-skilling towards the tech sector,” said Dr. Bernhard Mayer, PhD, interim Faculty of Science dean. “Students in the master of data science and analytics program can expect a leading-edge education that will help them transition to important roles in Canada’s tech economy.”
The University’s website says fundamental data science, business analytics, and health data analytics and biostatistics are the program’s three areas of focus. The degree can be completed full-time in 16 months (or 12 months if students choose an accelerated pathway) or part-time through a stackable certificate and diploma pathway.
The coronavirus pandemic has arguably affected the education sector more than any other, with schools, colleges and universities around the globe having been forced to close their doors and deliver classes remotely.
Most of the discussion surrounding this has focused on the logistical problems of setting up e-learning platforms, parents balancing their workloads with home-schooling and students completing exams.
However, one of the most significant issues – particularly in the long term – is that the pandemic has also exposed massive cyber security failings in the education sector.
Although some of these attacks are a direct response to schools’ ad hoc response to the pandemic, it’s not as though the education sector was especially resilient before being forced into online learning.
This is the result of schools increasingly relying on technology – whether it’s online learning platforms, teaching tools or day-to-day operations – while neglecting the security concerns that come with it.
Kaspersky notes that several bogus sites replicating Google Classroom and Zoom began popping up at the start of the pandemic.
According to Check Point Research, from the end of April to mid-June, 2,449 domains related to Zoom were registered, 32 of which were malicious and 320 were suspicious.
Fraudsters have also taken aim at Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, as well as universities’ online portals.
DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks
Between February and June 2020, there was a 350–500% increase in DDoS attacks on the education sector compared to the same timeframe last year.
These attacks, which flood network traffic with requests until they are overwhelmed and crash, are usually performed to disrupt an organisation – perhaps as an act of revenge, a political statement or simply for fun – or to distract organisations while the attackers perform a more sophisticated attack.
Adware and malware
The most common threat that the education sector faces are downloaders, adware and Trojan horses.
This threat is almost exclusively related to the widespread implementation of Zoom. The video conferencing app saw a surge in popularity at the start of lockdown, and cyber criminals responded by creating bogus application installers.
Students and teachers have repeatedly been fooled into installing a bogus version of Zoom, unleashing malicious software onto their systems.
Kaspersky reports that, of the 168,55 instances of bogus application installations that it detected between January and June, 99.5% were associated with fake Zoom apps.
How should schools respond?
Despite schools and universities worldwide reopening their doors to students, digital learning continues to be an essential part of the way they operate – and these systems must be more resilient to attacks.
But although many organisations in the education sector know that they should be doing more, they might not know where to begin. That’s where our Cyber Security as a Service can help.
With this annual subscription service, our experts are on hand to advise you on the best way to protect your organisation.
They’ll guide you through vulnerability scans, staff training and the creation of policies and procedures, which form the backbone of an effective security strategy.