​Burnaby is on the cybersecurity map

Visualizing strengths, gaps, and areas of opportunity in Canada's electricity tech sector

The war against global cybercrime is being waged right around the corner in Burnaby.

Since 2000, Fortinet has invested in the city to create a first-class cybersecurity research and development centre that draws on the region’s talent to fight cybercrime. 

A global cybersecurity leader, Fortinet established its Burnaby location to foster the innovation needed to combat increasingly sophisticated and organized cyber criminals.

Today, Fortinet’s multi-building Burnaby campus employs over 1800 people and houses the company’s R&D facilities and a security and network operations centre.  

“The threat of cyberattacks is always evolving,” said Derek Manky, chief security strategist and global VP of threat intelligence at Fortinet. “As cyberattacks become more virulent and adopt more advanced technologies, we must constantly innovate to stay ahead. Fortinet’s growing Canadian workforce is part of the solution, and I’m proud of our work to advance cybersecurity.” 

Changing threat landscape

Cyberattacks, from denial of service to ransomware, are occurring more frequently.

According to recent Fortinet reports, there was a 35 percent increase in cyberattack alerts last year. This shift is partly driven by the digitization of everything, accelerated by the move to hybrid or fully remote work models.

With almost 90 per cent of the Canadian workforce either hybrid or fully remote, businesses have had to evolve to meet new technology and networking requirements. As a result, organizations’ attack surfaces are expanding, making enterprise security increasingly complicated.

Paired with a chronic shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals, most organizations’ security analysts struggle to effectively triage, respond, and remediate alerts from across their complex hybrid environments. 

Another factor in the changing landscape is the models and methods cyber attackers use.

With the development of lucrative “ransomware” attacks, cybercrime has evolved into a business supported by a network of services that enable almost anyone to buy and execute an attack. This ‘Cybercrime-as-a-Service’ (CaaS) operational model, paired with the adoption of generative AI, allows would-be threat actors to carry out attacks more frequently and deliver more damage.  

AI is a game changer 

Just as companies invest in the latest technologies to advance business goals, cybercriminals invest in artificial intelligence to support malicious activities in new ways. AI can be used to mimic human behaviour, helping threat actors evade detection.

According to Fortinet’s Cyberthreat Predictions for 2024, cybercriminals will likely take advantage of AI in ways we haven’t seen yet, such as scraping social platforms and websites for personally identifiable information they can sell.

Or, expanding on the use of deepfake audio or video, generative AI will be used to clone the voices of executives or trusted individuals and use those recordings to compel an unsuspecting target to execute commands, disclose passwords or data, or release funds.

Leading innovation 

Given the growth in organized cybercrime, the work being done at Fortinet’s Burnaby campus is critical and gaining recognition.

As a leader in cybersecurity, Fortinet partners with public and private organizations from across the globe, including NATO, Interpol, and the World Economic Forum. These partnerships help to disrupt cyber adversaries operating globally, and much of this critical work originates from the company’s Burnaby centre. 

“The R&D side of our business is instrumental to Fortinet’s business success,” said Manky. “Today, Fortinet solutions are trusted to protect more than 6,200 customers across Canada, including federal, provincial, and municipal governments and Canadian businesses from healthcare, retail, shipping, and other verticals critical to British Columbia and beyond.” 

With 20 per cent of their global workforce in B.C. and over 2,700 combined in Canada, Fortinet’s history of investment has helped contribute to economic development and the growth of the province’s vibrant technology sector.

As one of the largest employers in the province, Fortinet has earned the ‘Top Employers of the Year Award’ for six years. The company’s reputation has helped attract highly skilled cybersecurity experts, technology developers, engineers and other professionals, including talent from Canada’s top educational institutions, including the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Simon Fraser University. 

Fortinet continues to invest in expanding the skilled workforce.

Globally, it has committed to training a million people in cybersecurity by 2026. To help advance this pledge, Fortinet also works with academic partners in B.C. and around the world through its Fortinet Academic Partner Program to help develop a skilled cybersecurity workforce of the future.

The company also provides no-fee security awareness training to improve cybersecurity in school districts, touching approximately 300 school boards and 1,700 private schools across Canada. 

“Combatting cybersecurity takes a village,” said Manky. “We need all governments, businesses, and institutions to work collaboratively, share information, and support a skilled workforce. Through our work at the Burnaby campus and through investments in education and training, Fortinet is building the solutions needed to help Canadian businesses and individuals minimize their risk of cyberattack.” 

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