Affable and a gifted communicator, Mourad is one of Canada’s leaders in cybersecurity. He studied computer engineering at the University of Constantine in Algeria and at the University of Paris — XI in Orsay. Tall, dignified and considerate, the professor and researcher, who was born in Constantine in 1966, is today the Associate Dean at Concordia University’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. In 2016, he was named principal chairholder of the NSERC/Hydro-Québec Thales Senior Industrial Research Chair in Smart Grid Security: Detection, Prevention, Mitigation and Recovery from Cyber-Physical Attacks. His career evolved in the major computer research centres of France and the United States (Princeton, Stanford), which enabled him to reflect on the social models and values of both advanced societies. Today, as research chair, he is surrounded by nine distinguished professors and close to sixty student researchers. In his lab, supplied with large-scale servers, specialized equipment and screens projecting data, graphs and maps of global cybersecurity systems in real time, a dozen graduate students work long hours every day to invent new means of thwarting cyberattacks. These researchers come from various countries including Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Romania, and Canada.
For Mourad, his wanderlust was awakened at an early age. When he was 10, he wrote the Canadian Embassy to request brochures about the country. It would seem that those photos of wide-open spaces and vibrant cities made a lasting impression! They certainly influenced his choice to teach in Canada. He frequently mentions how quality of life was a decisive factor in his career. Montreal, a high-tech industry hub, has all the benefits required to attract the best minds from around the world. According to him, Canada is an open-minded society where equal opportunity is a reality, where anything is possible with the right qualifications, effort and shared work ethic. Fascinated by the cultural mosaic of the country, Professor Debbabi insists that we must protect the bilingualism of institutions and the values of the nation: rule of law, social justice, the respect of individual freedoms, as well as the freedom of religion and expression. Canadians live in an inclusive country but the fight against racism remains crucial. This father of two says he is happy to see that taxes go to helping those less fortunate and supporting social networks. He believes the redistribution of wealth is a part of our Canadian values. Also, he claims to love winter! Mourad’s view on the Canadian society of tomorrow features a country that protects the current value system, where leaders and elected officials communicate strong, positive messages on the international stage. The protection of youth from all forms of extremism, whether political, religious or social must be a priority, as well. To fight violence, hatred and racism, public education figures and elected officials must develop initiatives, review academic curricula and get the media involved.