An Ontario engineering professor has received a federal grant to develop stronger security systems to protect Canada’s energy sector and supply chain from cyberattacks.

Sebastian Fischmeister, a professor of engineering at the University of Waterloo, received $1.2 million in federal funding for the project, his university announced Wednesday

“We are going to look into hardware and software for the supply chain for the energy sector,” Fischmeister said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Thursday. 

A June cybersecurity incident that affected operations at Calgary-based Suncor Energy Inc. has highlighted vulnerabilities within the oil and gas industry – considered by experts to be a prime cybercrime target, given oil companies’ valuable assets and critical infrastructure.  

TECHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH

Fischmeister’s project will aim to enhance cybersecurity systems through “checkpoint technology,” which identifies supply chain threats in the nation’s energy industry.

The system works to examine critical energy infrastructure systems and components in order to identify potentially “fraudulent or counterfeit components.” Fischmeister’s team of engineers will also work to find new ways to protect vital infrastructure against “damaging interference,” according to a news release.

The team of researchers is working with Natural Resources Canada and Defence Research and Development Canada to look at example systems and see if they can be manipulated. Based on that research, Fischmeister said his team will “compare what type of detection technologies currently identify these types of manipulations.”

Fischmeister said the researchers is now looking for stakeholders and companies willing to participate and have their systems tested as the team compares various techniques and methods to identify tampering.

Based on the project’s findings, Fischmeister said the team will provide input to the Canadian government and Natural Resources Canada, which may be used for future regulations or guidance. 

Check out the full video at the top of the article to learn more.