#CyberFLASH: University of Ottawa missing hard drive with data on 900 students

university-of-ottawa-2The University of Ottawa has launched an investigation after an external hard drive containing the personal information of approximately 900 students disappeared earlier this month.

Current and former students have been notified of the possible privacy breach and an information line has been set up, the university said in a news release Wednesday.

Ottawa police and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario have also been notified.

The hard drive was used to back up personal information on individuals who accessed a university resource for students with disabilities or mental health issues applying for special academic accommodations.

Figuring out exactly what personal information was stored on the drive is one of the objectives of the investigation, the university said..

“The University takes its role in safeguarding personal information and using it in an appropriate manner very seriously. Measures have been put in place at SASS to reduce the risk of the situation recurring. The University is deeply sorry about this situation,” the university said..

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#CyberFLASH: Three Canadian universities to help teach IBM’s Watson about cyber security

ibm-640x427Three Canadian universities are among eight institutions that will be in a year-long research project to teach IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform how to comb through unstructured data to improve cyber security.

Starting this fall the institutions — including the University of Ottawa, the University of Waterloo and the University of New Brunswick — will work with IBM to teach Watson the nuances of security research findings and how to discover patterns and evidence of hidden cyber attacks and threats.

In making the announcement on Tuesday, Caleb Barlow, vice-president of IBM Security, said in an interview the work won’t necessarily lead to a commercial Watson for Cyber Security product. For example, Watson will work with IBM’s free X-Force threat information exchange.

“The university program is an academic initiative. Each university decides how they’re going to implement it with their students — whether it will be part of course work, extra credit — and they’re going to get a front-row seat into how we build cognitive solutions in the security realm.”

IBM sells a number of services on the Watson platform including Watson for Oncology (helps cancer specialists evaluate patient data against clinical evidence), Explorer (analyzes structured and unstructured enterprise data), Discovery Advisor (helps organizations discover relationships between disparate data they hold), and Engagement Advisor (an automated self-service solution that offers answers to customer questions).

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