Preventing cybercrime before it happens

Faculty of Engineering
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Guy-Vincent Jourdan
Professor Guy-Vincent Jourdan approaches cybercrime defence from a "zero-victim" standpoint: he looks for ways to detect cyber-attacks as soon as they occur, and ideally before they can do any damage.

As cybersecurity threats to both personal and organizational accounts ramp up, we need to define exactly what cybersecurity means for individuals and businesses. How can you take steps to protect yourself online? How can you protect your company's data and keep it safe?

Preventing cybercrime

A key feature of cybersecurity research is developing systems that are always on alert and that anticipate cyber attacks before they happen. Guy-Vincent Jourdan, who is a professor at the Faculty of Engineering and co-director of the uOttawa-IBM Cyber Range, is interested in finding pro-active solutions at every step in order to detect, prevent, and recover from cyber attacks. More specifically, Professor Jourdan and his team are working on early detection of phishing sites, automatic detection of stolen data, and the analysis of scams and malware, to make sure that cyber defense results in "zero victims."

"In our research, we always focus on approaches that do not rely on the crime being first reported. Instead, we look for ways to detect an attack as it is being deployed by the attacker, and ideally before it can do any damage," shares Dr. Jourdan.

The team, which works closely with cybersecurity industry partners, combines approaches based on machine learning and mathematics, and their research has already been applied to create technology that can help online users, including various companies and NGOs. For example, Professor Jourdan's cryptocurrency scam detection methodology drives the Anti-Phishing Working Group eCrime Exchange database. The team's partnerships with NGOs and IBM have resulted in many phishing attacks being detected and blocked before funds could be stolen from online users.

Training the next generation of cyber experts

Cybersecurity and crime detection education have become more accessible with the launch of the uOttawa-IBM Cyber Range. The Cyber Range provides hands-on learning through simulations and training events during which students and partners have fun while gaining practical skills in detecting and defending against cyber attacks.

"The creation of the Cyber Range, as part of the Cyber Hub initiative, is a tremendous development for those of us who have been working in cybersecurity for years," says Jourdan. "These partnerships give unprecedented opportunities for hands-on learning for our students, who are going to be trained on the latest versions of security devices and software, and will be able to apply this knowledge immediately upon graduation."

About Guy-Vincent Jourdan

Guy-Vincent Jourdan is a full professor at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the Faculty of Engineering and co-director of the new uOttawa-IBM Cyber Range. He has over 15 years' experience in leading research and industry collaborations. He has co-authored over 100 scientific publications and 15 patents. For the past decade, his main research area has been cybersecurity, specifically, cybercrime detection and prevention.