2nd Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Cybercrime a Success

Pictured: David Maimon and Thomas Holt

Pictured: David Maimon and Thomas Holt

The threat of cybercrime continues to affect average people, business, and government alike. For instance, 2014 has been referred to as the “Year of the Breach” due to the number of companies which lost customer data due to hackers. Over the last few years, Target, Home Depot, Jimmy Johns, P. F. Chang’s, and many medium and small businesses were compromised by computer hackers using malicious software and other techniques to gain access to credit and debit card data.

The threat posed by hackers and other cybercriminals requires a diverse response from law enforcement and industry sources. The academic community can also bring tremendous resources to bear in understanding the practices of cybercriminals, as well as the social and behavioral drivers that lead individuals to this lifestyle. Scholars, practitioners, and policy makers from around the world convened at the second annual Michigan State University Conference on Cybercrime, held Thursday March 26, 2015, to discuss their research on these issues. Over 70 people attended the conference from across Michigan and Ohio, including over 20 students from Universities across the region.

This year’s event was funded by multiple partners across the campus, including the International Business Center in The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and the School of Criminal Justice at MSU. In addition, a generous donation was provided by our primary industry partner, Deloitte, LLP, the leading consulting firm providing audit, consulting, advisory, and risk management services to clients around the world.

Pictured: Keith Jones, Joshua Dalman, Brian McManus

Pictured: Keith Jones, Joshua Dalman, Brian McManus

Expanding on the themes of the previous year, the presenters discussed their work to understand the behavior of cybercriminals and the ways that policy changes may make it more difficult to offend. One of the keynote speakers for the day, Dr. Stefan Savage from the University of California San Diego, provided an overview of the ways that various cybercrime service providers obtain money for their goods and services. He demonstrated that taking out payment systems makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to operate successfully.

Professor Susan Brenner from the University of Dayton also provided an excellent overview of the need for changes to legislative policy surrounding cybercrimes. She pointed out that the traditional model of law enforcement, and legislation generally based around physical territories no longer applies. Instead cybercrimes require police agencies to reconsider how to successfully enforce the law and prosecute offenses.

Dr. Gail Ahn from Arizona State University provided an overview of the ways that cybercrime could be better understood through the use of data mining and automation techniques to examine malware and malware writers. Dr. David Maimon from the University of Maryland discussed whether hackers could be deterred through the use of warning banners in computer systems. Lance James and Alison Nixon of Deloitte, LLC. also discussed common behavioral characteristics of youth engaging in hacking and cybercrime, and the need for more intervention strategies to help orient them away from crime.

Floor Jansen presenting at 2nd Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Cybercrime

Floor Jansen presenting at 2nd Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Cybercrime

In addition to excellent research, this year also included two panel sessions featuring practitioners and experts from around the world. Floor Jansen of the Netherland High Tech Crime Unit and Brian McManus from the National White Collar Crime Center gave their perspectives on the challenges facing law enforcement and policy makers in dealing with cybercrimes.

The School of Criminal Justice has begun planning for the 2016 meeting, and looks forward to another wonderful event. If you would like more information about the event, or are interested in sponsoring the event, please contact Tom Holt at holtt@msu.edu, or by phone at 517-353-9563.