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August 26, 2020

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Cyber security

Toronto, the new cyber security hub?

Shimon Brathwaite

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is emerging as one of the leading innovators in not only tech, but also cyber security, argues cyber security professional and consultant, Shimon Brathwaite.

In 2016, Canada was ranked the fourth largest innovation hub for cyber security in the world and since then it has only continued to grow. Heavily influenced by the prosperous financial sector, it provides a huge opportunity for both those looking to break into the industry.

There’s currently a huge deficit of cyber security professionals globally, with predictions that up to 3.5 million cyber security jobs will go unfilled by 2021. In Canada the demand for cyber security professionals is growing at about 7% per year alone. A report by Deloitte found that 8,000 new workers will be needed by 2022 to avoid a deficit in the workforce.

Here I’ll outline why Toronto is such a booming cyber security hub, what opportunities exist here and how aspiring professionals, entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals can take advantage of this new opportunity.

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Entrepreneurship

The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA) created a cyber report which concluded that Ontario has the potential to become a global leader in cyber security.

Janet Ecker, President and CEO of TFSA, had this to say: “Canada’s financial industry has an international reputation for stability, safety and growth. And, it is headquartered right here in the Toronto-Waterloo innovation corridor, among one of the largest technology hubs in North America. This presents a huge opportunity to build capacity to support the financial industry and to generate economic growth.”

Furthermore, the resources are extremely concentrated, with more than half of all cyber security firms based in the Toronto area. In response to the increasing demand many startup businesses and accelerator programmes are taking a specific interest in cyber security.

The digital media zone for example, which is ranked #1 university-based incubator in North America, has partnered with Roger’s Cybersecure Catalyst to create Canada’s first cyber security startup accelerator. This institution has a programme that specifically brings in cyber security startups and provides them with funding, mentorship, corporate connections and more. It just received $30 million in funding from the City of Brampton. It also has strong corporate sponsors such as Rogers, RBC and Ryerson University.

Job market

Not only is the hub huge for entrepreneurs, but it’s a great play for people looking to find a job as well. As mentioned earlier, Canada is expected to be in a deficit of at least 8,000 workers in cyber security by 2022. Not only that, but most of the jobs are focused in Toronto, meaning that professionals won’t have to relocate all around the country to take advantage of this over demand. Currently, the average salary of a cyber security professional is about $90,000, with Ontario coming in at $84,729.

Summary

The Canadian government continues to invest heavily in the industry, with over $500 million to be invested over the next five years, which includes public and private partnerships that can be leveraged to increase innovation. It also includes investment by the Canadian government to educate and train the labour force to fill knowledge and skill gaps.

Cyber security represents $1.7 billion of Canada’s GDP and over 11,000 jobs. All predictions expect the industry to only get bigger and bigger in the coming years. For all of these reasons I’m confident Canada will continue to invest heavily in the industry for years to come and it’s a great place for someone who wants to take advantage of it.

Shimon Brathwaite is a cyber security Professional, Entrepreneur, Consultant and author at securitymadesimple. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada and has worked in several financial institutions in security related roles, as a consultant in incident response and is a published author with a book on Cyber security Law.

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