Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Canadian Centre for Cyber Security to be located at 1625 Vanier Parkway

The new home of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS) will be located in a commercial office building at 1625 Vanier Parkway in Ottawa, ADM of Operations André Boucher revealed in a presentation to the ITAC Cyber Security Technology Summit on October 30th.

The Centre will occupy the top six floors of the currently unoccupied 10-storey building. The building offers space at a rate of $42,500 per floor per month, so it looks like CCCS will pay about $3 million per year for the site.

Assuming 20-25 square metres per employee, the roughly 16,000 square metres of office space on the six floors should be sufficient for pretty much all of the 750 employees the CCCS is currently slated to have.

(For those interested, the image below shows a typical floor plan in the building.)

It is likely, however, that some employees will remain in CSE's Edward Drake building, where specialized labs and higher-security premises already exist. According to Boucher, the Centre's data holdings will remain housed at the CSE campus and/or in the public cloud.

In addition, as the CSE Commissioner reported in 2017, some IT Security personnel currently work face to face with SIGINT personnel in shared workspaces ("When analyzing cyber threat activities, the SIGINT and IT Security branches share tools and workspaces"). It seems unlikely that these common workspaces will end up in the CCCS's lower-security facility.

In September, CCCS Head Scott Jones testified that the Centre was hoping to occupy the same building as the new RCMP National Cybercrime Coordination Unit "so that we can be co-located." Thus, depending on its ultimate size, that unit might also occupy one or two floors in the building. The RCMP's existing cybercrime unit is housed in the force's National Division, which is headquartered at 155 McArthur Avenue, just one door down from 1625 Vanier Parkway. One way or another, therefore, it seems clear that the two organizations will indeed end up as neighbours.

It is not clear whether the other floors of 1625 Vanier Parkway will be occupied at all for the time being. The building has stood vacant—apparently in hopes of acquiring a major government tenant—since its construction was completed in 2015, and its owners may well be willing to wait a few more years to finish leasing it. That would probably be wise, as chances are good that the CCCS has not finished growing and may well be in search of additional space in future years. Alternatively, there is probably more than one Ottawa cybersecurity firm that would be pleased to lease spaces in the same building as CCCS.

Meanwhile, the departure of some 500 CCCS staffers from the Edward Drake building would seem to leave a substantial hole in the occupancy of that nearly brand-new facility.

This will not be a problem, however, as CSE's ongoing expansion was already starting to exceed the limits of the building. With continued growth of the SIGINT side of the organization already on the agenda, it is likely that the impending exile of the IT Security side is coming at just the right time.

Indeed, although the argument that the CCCS needs its own, more publicly accessible facility is reasonably convincing on its own, space considerations may well have been the decisive factor. As in 1956 when CBNRC outgrew the Rideau Annex and 1980 when CSE outgrew the Sir Leonard Tilley building, when the space runs out, it's always the IT Security side that gets the boot.