Big Dig

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and partners work together to solve cyber security challenges

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) believes that cyber security is a team effort and collaboration in cyber space is essential for Canada’s digital safety. Our employees are working hard to bolster cyber security capabilities across Canada, in partnership with industry, academia, and all levels of government.

Since 2010, CSE has hosted Big Dig, an annual classified cyber threat discovery workshop. Big Dig brings together the Government of Canada, Canada’s critical infrastructure industry, and international partners to share knowledge and tackle new concerns in the cyber threat landscape. Following the launch of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) in 2018, the Cyber Centre has taken over the workshop’s leadership and responsibility role.

During this two-week event, key stakeholders in the cyber defence community work together to find the newest threats and design solutions to address them. The challenges and problem-solving skills associated with Big Dig lead to cutting-edge developments in cyber defence.

By fostering innovation and collaboration across various sectors, Big Dig helps advance Canada’s cyber security, competitiveness, and thought leadership on a global scale.

Quick facts about Big Dig

  • Big Dig directly contributes to CSE’s cyber security mandate.
  • Canada’s Five Eyes partners participate, and invitations are highly coveted.
  • Cyber security experts explore new concepts and cutting-edge techniques, and master new skills.
  • The annual workshop receives over 200+ applications and has grown year over year.
  • The maximum number of participants is 165. Applications are reviewed and evaluated on submitted abstracts, skills, and experience.
  • Participants are only eligible if they have the required Top Secret level clearance in order to access the Government of Canada’s cyber defence tools. They are also subject to CSE’s policy and compliance rules.
  • Participants are divided into teams based on diverse skill sets and expertise, in addition to pre-selected interest areas.
  • Topics for competition can include data mining, malware analysis, machine learning, and data characterization.
  • At the end of the event, teams present their findings and accomplishments to guests, executives, participants, and key stakeholders.
  • A winner is chosen by an audience vote.

Big Dig has resulted in successful and innovative outcomes that CSE has shared across the Government of Canada, the cyber security community, and with our trusted international partners.

CSE and its Cyber Centre will continue to leverage the tools and techniques that come out of Big Dig to improve Canada’s resilience and strengthen our country’s cyber security.

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