Computer Crime Research Center


UOIT to develop cyber-crime research centre

Date: March 13, 2008
By: Josie Newman

DURHAM -- A $10.3 million centre for cyber-crime research at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology is expected to be a place of international significance where sophisticated tracking of crimes such as internet child pornography, theft of private data, credit card exploitation, and gaming occurs.

“Criminals have been taking advantage of the internet and cops are at a loss. The police are playing in a global arena.....UOIT is such an advanced institution it’s a perfect fit for my life experiences with their PhDs,” said Paul Gillespie, former head of the child exploitation unit at Toronto Police Services and the first director-in-residence at the centre.

The fledgling centre has received $125,000 from UOIT and a $240,000 loan from UOIT’s advancement office for start-up costs and to procure the services of Mr. Gillespie, said Bernadette Schell, dean of the faculty of business and information technology.

“We’ve been speaking in general terms to our stakeholders and now we’re ready to go out and raise the $10.3 million funding. We’re expecting both private- and public-sector money,” said Ms. Schell, who came up with the idea for the centre six years ago. Development of the centre is expected to take place in three phases over five years.

UOIT is trying to get researchers who can develop cyber-crime solutions within 24 to 36 months. “They’ve been working in their own research space so when they come to us, they’ve finished the research. We’re hoping this will become a national Centre of Excellence,” said Ms. Schell.

In 2003, 50 academic administrators, including Ms. Schell, interested in internet security met to discuss cyber-crime. In 2006 more than 120 delegates from around the world met in Markham for the fourth annual Privacy Security Trust, and last November a conference on game development and security related to game development was held.

“We want to combat strategies to the next wave of crime. In the U.S., they have a computer emergency response team at Carnegie-Mellon (University) and they’ve done wonderful things to secure cyberspace from threats to national security and other things. National security could be a concern here eventually -- with the nuclear plants, all it takes is one circuit breaker to trip up power in Ontario,” said Bruce Hurley, major gift officer for the advancement office at UOIT.

“I think it’s good because we have a unique talent from several different fields here. We’re hoping to become the nose for crime along with Concordia University, University of New Brunswick, and University of Calgary,” said Ms. Schell.

Microsoft helped develop software for the cyber-crime research centre, said Mr. Gillespie.

“The software allows law enforcement officials globally to connect. There are about 10 different countries who use this software now, including Australia,” said Mr. Gillespie, who is head of Kids’ Internet Safety Alliance (KINSA), a registered charity that trains cops on how to police the internet.

KINSA also raises funds to bring police from various countries to train them. So far, UOIT has hosted or will soon host police forces from Chile, Romania and Brazil for software and cyber-crime training.

“It’s a good thing the centre is at UOIT because there’s already expertise here around this issue. We offer a masters in information technology security so we have a good platform for people to work in this area,” said Ron Bordessa, president of UOIT.

Once funding is in place, there will be directors in five areas -- cyber-exploitation, IT security and informetrics, financial security and forensics, electronic commerce and marketing, serious gaming and gaming security.

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