TRU hosts fourth annual Privacy and Security Conference

This year’s conference largely focused on the risk associated with living in a digital world

Over 200 attedants from TRU and the Kamloops community listened to speakers and interacted with vendors at the conference. (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

Last Wednesday, TRU hosted the fourth Annual Privacy Information Security Conference in the TRU Campus Activity Centre.

According to Hugh Burley, TRU’s manager of information security, the event saw around 220 students and community members in attendance. Compared to last year, Burley says he’s happy with the overall outcome of the event.

“This year was a little bigger than last year and I think vendor and interpersonal engagement was a little better as well,” Burley said. “The content was a little stronger on Privacy but overall a good mix of content and I would say it was very successful.”

The theme for this years was Privacy and Security in the Digital Organization.

TRU law professor, Craig E. Jones, focused his conversation on the legalities and implications that encompass the online world in terms of privacy and security. Specifically, Jones focused on libel in social media, saying that in today’s age everyone must be careful with what they post online.

“What is social media but defamation,” Jones said. “There isn’t a lot that is said on Facebook these days that isn’t defamatory in one way or another. You can be liable for you posts and you can be liable for posts on your wall.”

Another TRU professor, Musfiq Rahman touched on the vulnerability of mobile devices in an increasing digital era. According to Rahman, cell phones and tablets are driving an increasing number of cyber crimes.

“Stolen identities, data breaches, loss of privacy are just some of the consequences of widespread use of mobile devices,” Rahman said. “One of the challenges with mobile devices is that they aren’t as physically secure as a laptop or desktop. It is easy to forget your phone somewhere, or it’s easy for someone to steal your phone.”

Before the conference broke for lunch, a panel was held to discuss TRU’s digital campus. They spoke of the university’s digital strategies that includes faculty in digital research, smart spaces, student experience and success resulting from digitalization.

Burley led the panel, which included Michael Barr, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Mount Royal University, Greg Condon, CIO at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), Dave Kubert, UNBC Information Security Officer and Brian Mackay, TRU’s AVP, Digital Strategies & CIO.

While many of the panelists touched on the challenges of running an IT department and the many dangers they face, Barr used his time to encourage audience members to think more about their privacy in a world with rapidly-advancing technology.

“People should understand that events like these educate and create awareness and therefore causing people to ask questions,” Barr said. “By 2023 we are going to wake up and have less freedom. Technology is good, but we have to have counterbalances in terms of privacy.”

Despite his skepticism, Barr also believes that the questions posed concerning the risks of technology could mean a resurgence in critical thinking.

“Now is the time for humanities and the arts and critical thinking to make it’s place,” Barr said. “I think this will be a golden era of arts and critical thinking in universities for students to be challenged with questions like what does it mean to be a digital citizen in 2020, with #FakeNews, paranoia and everything that is going on in the world.”

The conference heavily relied on volunteers to put up and take down the event. Food for the event was provided by the TRU Conference Centre’s catering department and served by volunteer students during breaks, with beverages throughout the entirety of the event. Events and Tourism students see the Privacy and Security Conference as a great opportunity to gain real life experiences in their fields, whilst still pursuing their studies.