Federal grant supports BU project to enhance First Nations cybersecurity

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Cybersecurity on Manitoba First Nations will be improved thanks to a Brandon University (BU) project funded by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA).

Drs. Sarah Plosker and Gautam Srivastava, who are Associate Professors in BU’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, have received a grant of $20,659 through CIRA’s Community Investment Program. Their project will involve travelling to Indigenous communities in Manitoba to enhance cybersecurity education and knowledge by holding discussions about online privacy, in particular focusing on social media. The workshops will be open to everyone in the communities, with youth, Elders and other community members taking part in the exchange.

“Technology has narrowed the distance between our communities,” Plosker said. “The Internet creates new opportunities in rural areas, but it also introduces new challenges and hazards. By partnering with First Nation communities to present culturally relevant workshops, we can learn from them while adding to the knowledge that will help community members use technology to their advantage in a safe fashion.”

Two students will be hired to assist Plosker and Srivastava with the project. With help and feedback from First Nations partners, they will create, prepare and facilitate the workshops, which will begin later this year. The project will conclude with a wrap-up event at BU in mid-2020.

“We believe that this project is going to be very valuable, not only for the participants in the First Nations communities, but also for our students as well,” Srivastava said. “Our students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, exchange ideas and to learn from the community members they are working with as well.”

The project is part of a $1.25 million national investment aimed at improving Canadian internet infrastructure, access and digital literacy. The BU project is one of three that will take place in Manitoba. This is the first time that a BU initiative has been funded by the Community Investment Program, which was launched in 2014 and has provided $6.7 million for more than 150 projects since then.


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