Playing whack-a-mole with AI-powered cyberattacks

Think the pandemic did a number on the global supply chain? Just imagine what a coordinated cyberattack could do. That’s the message from J. Paul Haynes, COO of Waterloo-based cybersecurity company eSentire.

“If anyone wanted to systematically target us we would be starved before we figure out what happened,” said Haynes. “That’s the zombie apocalypse moment.”

Communitech’s Rosie Del Campo spoke with Haynes about how generative AI tools are giving cybercriminals new ways to unleash sophisticated, personalized and stealthy attacks that may go undetected or underreported.

“We’ve never seen anything have such a profound impact in a minimal amount of time,” said Haynes. “All that to say, that’s creating opportunities and risks for businesses. The other thing is these tools, in the hands of adversaries, might be morally corrupt. They’re technically gifted and we never underestimate them. They’ll be able to take advantage of this to capture the flag, so to speak.”

Allow us to reintroduce ourselves

A lot has changed in the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem over the last 25 years.

That includes Communitech, too. On our first episode of the Tech About Town podcast​, Alison Vreeswyk, SVP of Marketing and Business Development and Joel Semeniuk, Chief Strategy Officer, join us to talk about where the ecosystem has been and where it's going.

We also dig into Communitech's new three-year strategy and what we're doing to help Waterloo Region founders succeed in Canada and around the world.

Do you want your eggs scrambled, over-easy or in superposition?

Photonic’s CEO Paul Terry and Vice President of People Jessica Hodgson joined us for a Communitech Breakfast conversation on June 13. The Vancouver-based quantum leader recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to advance quantum networking technologies.

Building a quantum-based network alongside the existing internet infrastructure has long been an ambitious goal, and Photonic says it’s now one step closer to making quantum internet a reality. The company shared a new development that showcases a fundamental capability: entanglement distribution over long distances.

“We’re focusing on distributed entanglement, essentially enabling qubits to be connected anywhere in the world,” Terry said.

Hodgson shared how the company is focused on finding the best talent and building a culture where everyone has the quantum skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce. 

“The quantum industry is going to move faster and grow faster than the quantum workforce can keep up,” said Hodgson. “We’re moving incredibly fast but we need to build in time to develop and grow our talent and make sure we’re educating them on all the things they need to be smart on. We’re going to scale, we’re going to get big.”

Creating workplace cultures where everyone feels they belong

Pride month is a reminder that the work to make everyone feel they belong isn’t done yet. 

QueerTech’s Queering the Tech Ecosystem: Barriers and Opportunities report found that 89 per cent of non-queer respondents felt safe being themselves at work, while 70 per cent of queer respondents shared the same sentiment. Even more concerning, over 35 per cent reported experiencing discrimination during job interviews.

“We hear a lot of stories about people that have been misgendered during interviews. This comes a lot from a lack of education rather than from malice. People aren’t intentionally trying to cause harm but they still cause harm,” said Naoufel Testaouni, co-founder of QueerTech.

Communitech News also spoke with Melissa Paige Kennedy, a transgender woman whose last full-time role in tech ended about a year and a half after she came out at work. Kennedy says she knows many individuals in the transgender community who struggle to find employment in their respective fields.

“I’ve met so many trans people who are amazing technical talents and would be amazing assets to the technology industry,” said Kennedy. “Some companies are genuinely trying [but] there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Uniting founders from Rio to DTK

Communitech opened its doors to a delegation from ACATE (Technology Association of Santa Catarina State) on June 21. The delegation visited the Toronto area and Waterloo Region on a trade mission to showcase the potential of using the corridor as a platform for Brazilian tech companies to market their solutions globally. 

ACATE brings together over 1,800 tech companies from Santa Catarina, Brazil and has been recognized as one of the top five incubators in the world for promoting the development of the tech sector. 

“Communitech is one of our inspirations. They have an amazing hub where everyone can help you or give you advice. We are trying to do the same to connect our members,” said Henrique Bilbao, Vice President of Internationalization at ACATE.

The group’s visit also coincided with the launch of the new Kitchener-Waterloo chapter of the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC). Choosing Waterloo Region for the new chapter of the trade organization was a simple decision.

“There is no other choice,” said Peter Hawkins, co-chair of the BCCC. “When we talk to our members about what’s going on in Canada, Kitchener-Waterloo comes up 100 per cent of the time.”

Other news

This edition of the Roundup was compiled by the Communitech News Team. Sign up to receive the Roundup each month by visiting and scrolling to the bottom of the page.