Federal Grant Will Allow BU MET Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity to Aid in Combatting Online Child Abuse

The US Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has awarded the Boston University Metropolitan College Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity (CIC) program a grant of $437,500, dedicated to producing a new training program to support police investigations pertaining to online crimes against children, sex trafficking, cryptocurrency, and the dark web.

The initiative, titled, “Innovative Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Investigative Training on Internet of Things (IoT), Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT), Dark Web, and Crypto,” will be a collaborative effort between MET’s CIC program and the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative (ATII), the University of Texas at San Antonio, and WestEd, a child welfare-focused nonprofit. OJJDP will also have a leadership role. MET CIC Director Kyung-shick Choi will serve as principal investigator, with Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Lou Chitkushev joining as co-PI.

The program’s goal is to introduce a new dimension into IoT forensics and cryptocurrency tracking investigation techniques through the design of multi-leveled training processes to support law enforcement efforts.

IoT technologies, like Amazon’s Alexa, Ring camera devices, and other internet-enabled hardware, which have been used by cybercriminals to produce and distribute child sexual abuse material (CSAM), can also be used as forensic evidence in abuse cases, and this program will help train state and local law enforcement to mine those sources and lead successful investigations. Additionally, as CSAM is often disseminated via the dark web through cryptocurrency transactions, the program will prepare law enforcement agencies to identify evidence of such activity, which in turn will net a greater number of successful prosecutions.

By crafting courses that will teach officers of the law tools and techniques to combat internet victimization of children, this federally-funded program will aim to ameliorate the scourge of online child abuse and sex trafficking.

The same research team, with Professor Chitkushev serving as the PI and Professor Choi as co-PI, is currently supported by another Department of Justice grant in the amount of $881,201 that focuses on the need for law enforcement training and education in the realms of digital evidence and computer forensics.

Visit this link to learn more about the ICAC grant.