Cyber Forensics Research Group Signs Partnership Agreement with Defense Cyber Crime Center

Cyber Forensics Research Group Signs Partnership Agreement with Defense Cyber Crime Center

by Karen Grava
Director of Media Relations

UNH students will join the national effort to combat cybercrime now that the University has become one of just 13 colleges nationwide, and the first in Connecticut, to form a partnership with the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3), under an agreement announced last month

The partnership is a preliminary step to having the UNH Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHcFREG) in the Tagliatela College of Engineering designated a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence. UNHcFREG is part of the computer science, network systems and information technology programs in the electrical and computer engineering and computer science department at UNH.

UNH is the only college in Connecticut with a partnership with the Defense Cyber Crime Center.

The agreement reached by DC3 and UNH is also part of an effort by DC3 to establish standards and best practices for digital forensics practitioners. The goal is to help educators and researchers advance the discipline of digital forensics and increase the number of qualified professionals to meet the needs of law enforcement, counterintelligence, national defense and legal communities.

UNHcFREG is a think tank for cyber forensic science and security research that provides investigative assistance for law enforcement, intelligence agencies and private corporations. Since its inception in late 2013, researchers in the group have published extensively in high-impact journals and presented at conferences.

The partnership will allow UNH faculty and students to become involved in DC3 research projects and will make it possible for students to earn academic credit for work on defense laboratory research projects. It also will give UNH access to equipment and personnel for teaching science courses.

One student who will be involved in the partnership is Jason Moore of Branford, Conn., a graduate student in computer science. He got accepted into an extremely competitive internship from MITRE Corp., supporting a sponsored work program at DC3. Moore will participate in research and development activities at DC3’s Defense Cyber Crime Institute (DCCI) and assist in the development, testing and evaluation of tools and techniques in multiple areas, including mobile device analysis and network forensics.

MITRE, based in McLean, Va., is a not-for-profit organization that operates federally funded research and development centers, such as the National Security Engineering Center and the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute. It seeks to provide engineering, research and development, and information technology in support of the U.S. government.

“As part of our work program at DC3, we regularly bring in promising student interns, usually graduate students, who have a strong interest in the digital forensics disciplines,” said David W. Baker, associate department head at MITRE. “The internships at MITRE are pretty competitive. We want to have successful outcomes, and we consider each internship an opportunity for the intern to try out MITRE and for us to try out the intern.”

Cyber forensics was identified as a promising field by UNH two years ago, and faculty searches were activated in two colleges to develop expertise, said Ron Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering.

“We were thrilled to hire Abe Baggili last fall to lead the initiative in computer science,” he said.

Baggili was formerly the director of the Advanced Cyber Forensics Research Laboratory in the College of Technological Innovation at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. Prior to his post in the UAE, Baggili was at Purdue’s College of Technology, where he earned his Ph.D., and he also was a researcher at the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) and Purdue’s Cyber Forensics Laboratory.

“This coming fall we will add a second faculty member to further boost UNH’s team and position ourselves to be a national leader in cyber forensics,” said Harichandran

Baggili and his students, including Moore, recently discovered vulnerabilities in both WhatsApp and Viber applications that affect millions of users. Their work resulted in worldwide news coverage.

“We are working to become the most prominent university in the United States and worldwide in education and research in cyber forensics,” said Baggili. “Our goal is not to consume knowledge, but to create knowledge and impact, and help the world become a safer place. We encourage top students from all over the world interested in fighting cybercrime to join us at UNHcFREG to help us make this impact.”

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