Dr. Benjamin Fung of the School of Information Studies appointed Canada Research Chair in Data Mining for Cybersecurity

Published: 12 February 2016

McGill University School of Information Studies faculty member Dr. Benjamin Fung has been awarded a Canada Research Chair (CRC Tier 2) in Data Mining for Cybersecurity. Dr. Fung's research program aims to enhance the data sharing and data mining capabilities for healthcare and cyber security professionals.

CRC Tier 2 chairs are awarded to exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. For each Tier 2 Chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years.

"Big data are often highly sensitive, and sometimes person-specific, making them difficult to access and analyze," says Dr. Fung. "This CRC funding will enable my research team to investigate novel data sharing and mining techniques with emphasis on the security, confidentiality, and privacy issues of big data in the healthcare and cyber security sectors. The research results will enhance the data mining capability of the healthcare community and strengthen the protection of critical cyber infrastructure in Canada."


Advances in data collection, storage, and management technologies have created tremendous opportunities for innovative big data research in many domains. Big data refer to large, continuously growing, and complex data sets. Big data mining, or simply data mining, is the process of extracting potentially useful and previously unknown knowledge from big data. Despite the fact that many innovative data mining methods have been proposed in the last two decades, there is a large gap between general data mining techniques and domain-specific real-life applications.

The healthcare and cybersecurity sectors have been carefully chosen due to common challenges and data characteristics. Both sectors are drowning in data and patterns, but starving for interpretable knowledge. In addition, these sectors both involve highly sensitive and sometimes person-specific information. Due to security and privacy issues, the healthcare and cybersecurity communities have not yet fully leveraged the benefits of big data.


To address the pressing need for effective big data solutions in healthcare and cybersecurity, Dr. Fung's research program will address the following short-term objectives:

  • Objective 1: Develop a secure and privacy-preserving data sharing system to support health data mining. The proposed platform will enable health information custodians, such as hospitals, clinics, and labs, to securely share their data, while health data miners, such as health professionals in other health agencies and university researchers, can still effectively perform their anticipated data mining operations. Dr. Fung will collaborate with the McGill Department of Family Medicine.
  • Objective 2: Develop a scalable assembly code mining system to support malware analysis. Malware, such as viruses, trojan horses, and worms, are software pieces that intend to perform malicious activities on computers. The proposed system will enable reverse engineers to identify and characterize malware functionalities. This research theme will build upon Dr. Fung's existing collaboration with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC).


Visit Dr. Fung's research website.

The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) is designed to attract and retain the best talent from Canada and around the world, and to help Canadian universities achieve research excellence in the fields of health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and social sciences and humanities. CRCP is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

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