First MSU Cybercrime Conference Presents an Interdisciplinary Look at Ever-Changing Crime Landscape

Photo of Hsinchun Chen and Max Kilger at Inaugural Interdisciplinary Cybercrime Conference

Cybercrime, defined as criminal activity involving computers, mobile phones, and the Internet is one of the fastest-growing categories of illegal enterprise. Not all cybercrimes involve money – cyber bullying, stalking, terrorism, and even warfare are possible because of how interconnected computers are and how information is now available on-line – but the overall economic effects are enormous. A recent survey estimates global losses in 2013 at $113 billion. When the costs of security and the responses to major data breaches are added in, the impact is even larger.

On March 20, 2014, the School of Criminal Justice hosted 50 attendees at the first Michigan State University Interdisciplinary Conference on Cybercrime. Professionals from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies joined graduate students, faculty, and researchers from across the globe as more than a dozen speakers explored numerous technical and social issues about the subject.

The international cast of presenters was drawn from institutions in the United States, Canada, and Australia. To promote synergy, each talk featured two speakers, one from a technical discipline and one from the social science field. The presentations used a “TED Talk” structure, with each speaker discussing his or her work for 20-25 minutes, followed by a 10-15 minute period for questions. Among the research topics addressed were malware forensics, cybercrime policy development, the hacker community, online victimization and offline fear, data theft, cyber-terrorism, organized crime, and online fraud.

Dr. Marcus Rogers from Purdue University speaks about digital forensic investigations.

Dr. Marcus Rogers from Purdue University speaks about digital forensic investigations.

Click here for speaker biographies, topics, and abstracts of the talks presented at the conference. Video recordings of the presentations will be available; watch for an upcoming link.

Associate professor Thomas Holt, host of the event, says, “We feel the conference went very well. We have received positive feedback from everyone who attended. Our graduate students found it useful to hear about the issues from opposite perspectives, and the discussions presented innovative approaches to solving some of the problems.” The conference attracted media attention from TV stations WLNS in East Lansing and WILX in Lansing. Both stations interviewed Dr. Holt and Lieutenant Kyle Bowman, Commander for Michigan State Police Intelligence Operations.

“Next year,” Holt says, “we will have additional speakers and an expanded focus, including topics such as cyber bullying and harassment, sexual solicitation (especially of youth), and developing US Department of Justice prosecution policies.” He adds, “The purpose of the conference is to promote proactive thinking. On the technical side, many cybercrime offenses are novel; anticipating problems in new technologies and developing proactive remedies is difficult. Bringing both computer scientists and engineers to the table, along with social scientists, can lead us to find solutions for the roots of cybercrime: figuring out what triggers cybercriminal behavior, reducing the availability of cybercrime targets by developing predictors for crime and victimization, and retraining offenders to divert people from the hacker path toward benign channels.”